Traffic red cards

In his latest Psychologist column, Vaughan Bell recounts a story from Bogota in 1995 of a newly elected mayor’s creative solution to dealing with snarled traffic.

(The mayor) realised that the people of Bogotá were more concerned about social disapproval than traffic fines, and so hired mimes to playfully reproach drivers that crossed red lights, blocked junctions and ignored pedestrian crossings. One cannot police by mimes alone, and in a further measure to address driving behaviour, the mayor’s office brought in flashcards to allow social feedback. Each citizen was given a red card to signal to someone that their driving was poor and a white card to signal that the person who been particularly courteous or considerate.

The reason the mimes and cards worked, Bell argues, is that people learn “collegiate behaviour by social feedback,” and that the best methods of such feedback offend us the least. One other advantage that this system has over, say a “How’s My Driving?” bumper sticker, is that the feedback is instant — although not cataloged for other drivers in an Ebay style feedback system. This advantage comes at the risk of prompting more road rage incidents in other countries. Still, giving someone a red card is kinder than flipping them the bird.

Addendum: An online forum for calling out bad drivers.

Hat tip: Rory Sutherland

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  • Alan S

    George Carlin proposed this in the 1970's, although his version involved a suction-cup dart gun issued to every driver to help them flag misbehaving cars.

  • Alan S

    George Carlin proposed this in the 1970′s, although his version involved a suction-cup dart gun issued to every driver to help them flag misbehaving cars.

  • http://www.oddsbetting.co.uk/ disqus bodd

    The 'hows my driving' bumper sticker is perhaps the worst thing you can put on your vehicle, the answer is always the same. I just feel like ringing from behind the wheel and shouting 'rubbish'

  • http://www.oddsbetting.co.uk/ disqus bodd

    The ‘hows my driving’ bumper sticker is perhaps the worst thing you can put on your vehicle, the answer is always the same. I just feel like ringing from behind the wheel and shouting ‘rubbish’

  • http://www.oddsbetting.co.uk/ disqus bodd

    The ‘hows my driving’ bumper sticker is perhaps the worst thing you can put on your vehicle, the answer is always the same. I just feel like ringing from behind the wheel and shouting ‘rubbish’

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