What If They Turned Off The Traffic Lights?

A town in England has reduced traffic congestion, pollution, and accidents.  One year after the experiment began, the townspeople gushed over the change in the people and the way they drive. One woman’s commute went from twenty minutes to five. 

How did this happen? 

The town did the opposite of what had always been done.  Instead of adding more traffic lights or signs or spy cameras, they went the other direction. 

They turned off the traffic lights.

Why did turning off the lights make life and traffic better?  Because people had to think.  People had to learn to drive.  People had to pay attention. They had to become and remain aware of what’s happening around them.

“I can’t believe the difference; it’s simply astounding,” says one local woman.

“This is an absolute, absolute pleasure,” said another.

And the women were skeptics.

When we put up signs and signals, people tend to stop thinking.  We surrender our safety to politicians and engineers. We let others decide where we go, when, and how fast. 

We tell ourselves, “this is something the government should do, protecting us from dangerous drivers.”  But the fact is that people drive dangerously with or without signs and signals. When the signals are turned off, driving and walking become safer because drivers and walkers pay more attention to the task at hand.

Watch this video and decide for yourself: would we all be better off with less external control?

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

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