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Removing All Traffic Laws Makes Town Safer! Make Sense?

A town in Germany has abolished all traffic laws, signs, and crosswalks. Sound like a recipe for bumper cars meets demolition derby? Not according to town officials. In fact, getting rid of all the laws has had the exact opposite effect — by allowing drivers and pedestrians to make all of their own decisions about what's safe, one stretch of road that used to see 45 accidents a year and traffic jams, has become smooth and safe, and drivers have slowed down overall.

The plan is called "Share Space" and exists in towns in England and Holland as well. The idea is that everyone on the road including pedestrians and cyclists have equal rights — no sidewalks even! Local police say that without rules, people — wait for it — think for themselves (!) and communicate more and assume the responsibility of powering a huge pile of metal. Though locals say it took a bit to get used to the freedom and responsibility, it's increased safety and renewed a village-y atmosphere.

Does it make sense that by removing laws intended to increase safety, lawlessness actually makes a bigger difference? Could this phenomenon apply to other places and types of laws as well? Should it?

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Excessive03 Excessive03 8 years
This idea only works in a country like German where there is a great responsibility placed on driving. Please are too busy drinking coffee and talking on their cell phone for this to work in this country
verily verily 9 years
At least he was fit... I saw Leslie* on a bicycle once and it was an image I wish I could scrub from my brain. *Leslie's the town's famous tranvestite...even ran for mayor once.
Meike Meike 9 years
Yeah, there are tons pinheads in Vegas. The cops, however, don't regulate the freeways giving people complete reign to drive as they wish. As I understood it in driving school in Washington, that the very right lane is reserved for those who drive below or at the speed limit and trucks. There is one thing I don't really understand--the very left lane is still dictated by a freeway speed limit. So, if everyone is matching the speed limit or perhaps going the typical five over on the right or middle lanes, then no one can legally pass on the left? If they do, they exceed the speed limit and stand the chance of getting ticketed. Normally, I stick to the very right lane at the dictated speed limit to avoid that mess. In Germany, the left LITERALLY is the fast lane. 200km, no problem! There is absolutely no speed limit and you can not be on it if your intention is not to pass other drivers. It's just more efficient and less prone to accidents. Italy is the same way although they kind of drive sporadically in the cities.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
The law is that you are only supposed to pass on the left. The other half of that law is you are supposed to stay to the right, except to pass. It's because of the pin heads that refuse to get over that make the road dangerous.
Meike Meike 9 years
Knowing about German culture, they do have a tendency to be more responsible, obliging, and obedient in traffic. I've been to 30+ U.S. states and this could only possibly work in small town and rural areas. Seattle, LA, San Diego, San Fran, Boston, New York, and especially Las Vegas among others, forget about it. There are too many irresponsible, aggressive show off drivers. There is such a lack of courtesy and adherence to traffic laws here. And, btw, I always thought people here were only allowed to pass on the left on freeways like they do on the autobahn in Germany. Nope, people weave here which obviously causes many fatal accidents in Las Vegas. My husband's sister failed the practical test with only a couple of errors in Hesse, Germany once. It devastated her because she had to wait, at the very least, 4 months to retake it. I don't know if she had to repay the fee which is about €1,000. The system is hard. They take driving more seriously. As it should be.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Cab, you are right. My friend says it costs several thousand dollars in Germany to get a DL, and they take an extensive driving test to get one. so it is a privilege.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 9 years
Good point, cab. I didn't think much about that.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
I think we have to remember too that getting your driver's license in foreign countries can be a MUCH bigger process than here in the states and thats why countries like Germany can get away with no speed limits on sections of the Autobahn, because their drivers see driving as a privaledge, not a right and have to do much more extensive training than we do. Thats gotta factor in.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
i don't think he wore any protective gear. in fact, I think he had sandals on. maybe like Birkenstocks. But yeah, really tanned, skinny, and almost naked. only in Austin! :)
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
No one obeys any rules of the road where I live, so I think if we took those away here it would be the same! The city has put in numerous stop signs and speed bumps ALL OVER THE PLACE in an effort to increase safety, and although I don't know any official numbers, I seem to be seeing far more accidents and hearing about more pedestrian fatalities. It's so ridiculous and incredibly frustrating to try to drive across town. It takes twice as long as it should. And I agree with everyone on bicylists. If you want to share the road, then follow the rules!
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Haha, Jude, safety first! Yeah, Kris, I've lived in Austin my whole life so I hardly looked twice. It wasn't until I saw him riding the second time that I realized how weird it was. And how weird it was that I didn't think it was weird the first time...
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I picture a skinny, tanned, nearly naked guy in a white thong on a bicycle...with knee pads, elbow pads, and helmet.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Um, I think he's pretty fit Jude. Like someone who is naturally thin. I remember him coming towards me and I thought "that man is naked!" and then he passed and I saw it was a thong. well. not exactly naked! :)
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
That is so funny Michelin. It seems like he's a little far north to be riding around in his thong, but whatever. And you know you've lived in Austin a while when you see that stuff and don't really react. :)
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Well...does he at least look good in it?
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Kris! I've seen that guy! Not on Shoal Creek, but like clockwork he rides down Lamar (near Shoal Creek) every day in his little thong. Another reason to love Austin...
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Michelin, once I saw a man riding on Shoal Creek wearing nothing but a white thong.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
i have been to Egypt too! That traffic in Cairo was nuts! do you remember the really polite signs translated into English? Such as: "Dear driver, do not forget the pedestrian's right to crossing the road safely." glad you are back zeze!
Michelann Michelann 9 years
Kris, I see the crazies out on 360 all the time. Have you seen the ridiculously wide bike lanes on Shoal Creek? They're as wide as the car lane, and the cyclists STILL ride side by side, half in the road. It makes me crazy.
zeze zeze 9 years
Hi girls, its been a while, I've been on vacation and and glad to be home, and boy did I miss CS! Okay, I've been to egypt where they have NO TRAFFIC laws at all, huge crowded cities without one light and it is a total mess, crossing the street is a suicide mission, all cars have dents and marks b/c people get wayyyyyy too close and no signs what so ever are used all they do is beep to let each other know they are coming, so I can't really see how this would work in the long run.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
and Verily, I love your avitar!
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Verily, the cyclists say it's because the shoulder of 360 is nice and wide and accommodating. well, back when I heard that I had a horse. I said well then it's safe for me to ride my horse down the side of the highway too then, right? just another form of getting from point A to point B, right? uh, no! anyway i don't want to bash them all. it looks like a great form of exercise, and I can't argue with healthy hobbies. I just wish they'd use a little more common sense in where they ride.
verily verily 9 years
As a fellow Austinite, I haven't really noticed that problem around where I drive, but I have seen quite a few bike-car accidents on 360. Who in their right mind decided that biking down an incredibly busy highway was a good idea??? You know crazy as it sounds, I've seen this phenomenon in action more or less in the biggest city in the US. When the powers went out all day in the NorthEast back in like 2003, everyone drove so nicely in Staten Island. I saw no accidents, lots of cars taking turns through intersections... That was a true oddity though.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
Michelin, that's so funny! and yet, i HAVE seen cyclists on the freeway. when you're on the flyover from 71 to go north on Mopac, the are in that right hand exit lane, the one with no shoulder, going ??? mph while everyone else is going 70. awesome! when I have to slam on my brakes right there, I know what's a few cars in front of me. :) ha ha Jude! it's just a sign with a bicycle, and an x over it. I guess that isn't explicit enough.
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