Certain cars get stolen more than others. Certain vehicles are involved in accidents more than others, too. While the popularity of certain vehicles obviously tips these odds towards cars with more ownership than others, a number of factors are also at play in these situations. It should come as no surprise then that certain cars might change your perception of the speed they're traveling.
For instance, if a station wagon with wood panels on the doors zipped past you going 65 miles an hour, and a small, sports car painted cherry red zipped past at the same speed, it's likely that you'll perceive the sports car as going faster, simply because it's smaller and brighter. There also might be an expectation there that the car is designed for speed and jauntiness, and is therefore going faster. If it's a convertible with the top down and the driver's hair is blowing in the wind, the perception of speed might even be enhanced because of that extra movement.
Color, movement, the design of the car and other factors can affect our impression of speed according to the Taylor & Francis Group that conducted the relevant experiment. And if our perception of the speed of other cars can be so easily affected, then our perception of our own speed can most likely be manipulated by what we're doing, how we feel, the speed of the traffic around us, the weather and any number of other factors.
Radar speed signs that show the speed we're traveling next to a posted speed limit sign can draw our attention and bring us back to reality so there's no mistaking our speed level. These signs can help drivers reduce speed in certain areas, and simply make them more aware of their driving in general, even after leaving that area.
The undergraduates involved in the Taylor & Francis study viewed videos of various cars and were asked to estimate the speed they thought the cars were traveling. The original purpose of the study had little to do with traffic or the effectiveness of radar speed signs, but was designed to show how fallible the human mind is in a witness testimony situation. The guess was that people's perceptions would be affected by much more than what they actually saw, and this proved a true premise.
The results, though, do show inherent problems with drivers and speed. It illustrated how it often isn't judged accurately based on the type of car, the surroundings and sometimes even the driver. Radar speed display signs eliminate the guesswork and all the other influences and give drivers instant feedback about their speed, slowing even non-speeding traffic down considerably.
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