Sometimes, when we get out on the road Sunday afternoon, we are ready to believe that they are trying it. Perhaps the old folks stayed home (that means the nonagenarians), but not likely, (I know one such who is a better driver than some of the youngsters!)
Try to drive from Lincoln toward Omaha on a Saturday, just before the Pittsburgh football game! Try to get across town after the game! Try—well, you've tried all these things, and others. Why should I plan adventurous expeditions for you? I really have nothing against you, sufficient to lead me to desire your utter annihilation!
We recognize that traffic jams are to be with us to the end of our days. The corollary thereto is that anything we can do to minimize their confusion and their dangers will be a welcome blessing to mankind.
What to do?
The National Conference on Street and Highway Safety has shown that uniformity of traffic signs, signals and markers will greatly promote the ends we seek. Have you not been confused and annoyed, even endangered, by failure on the part of yourself or some other driver to locate and to obey traffic signs? “I didn't see it."
The American Engineering Council has directed a study of this problem, cooperating with local committees in thirty-five states. Their findings assume the form of a recommended code of markings, seemingly best adapted to the needs of all situations. This code is now available for study and trial. It is hoped that municipal authorities throughout the whole country will make use of them, and that state officers having to do with highway construction and maintenance will similarly adopt the suggestions. The earlier the start is made for standardization, the more effective will be the results and the less will be the cost. Color, shape, size, placement, can all be taken into account from the first, and can be made standard at no greater cost. It will be just as cheap to install a black-on-yellow target as a black-on-red; to use an octagonal STOP sign as a square one; to display all square SLOW signals with diagonal mounting, instead of horizontal. It will be equally economical to make identical use of terms, such as TURN (radius less than 200 feet); or CURVE (radius not over 600 feet); or HILL (a down-grade of 6 per cent or more).
Again, street traffic control signals installed in cities and villages may have the same fundamental characteristics and still vary in cost suited to the purchaser. Red, green, and orange lights should be interpreted in identical terms. Preferred placement for such signals should be known. Most effective sizes and assemblages of lights should be understood.
Colors used on curbs, parking directions, mushroom buttons, safety zones, railroad crossings—what has experience taught us as to effective means of treatment?
When and where should signs be installed? Do they, when installed, ever become hazards or hindrances themselves?
A complete bulletin with findings and recommendations, including specifications, has been issued by the Council, in the expectation that its most timely appearance will have far-reaching effects upon the solution of our traffic problems. In it attention is called to the fact that state laws differ and therefore are still somewhat restrictive upon our scheme of uniformity. This should be amended.
A word of warning is issued against the installation of signals which may control traffic at one point, but react so unfavorably upon the situations at adjacent corners that hazards are made worse. It is also pointed out that signals should be turned off at times and places when and where traffic has been reduced to a safe volume. Systems should be used to give the maximum of protection with the minimum of restriction compatible with safety, or public reaction will be against their use, and enforcement of their rules will be jeopardized.
The report which I have before me is one of several which have been made along different phases of street traffic. For example, we have also Model Municipal Traffic Ordinances and Supplementary Ordinances; Uniform State Motor Vehicle Law; Uniform Drivers' License Law. Some of these present helpful practices relating to the licensing of operators of cars. Others help to prevent car theft.
It is to be expected that engineers in particular will be interested in this serious attempt to minimize traffic accidents. They should exert their active influence toward uniformity of all signals and markings, for engineers are the great proponents of standardization.