Drug Safety and Grandma

The small Dutch town of Drachten removed almost all its traffic signals+, and remade big intersections so they now have traffic circles. They removed curbs and sidewalks. Pedestrians and cyclists mix in the streets with automotive traffic. Accidents plummeted 50 percent since the program started.


It seems counter-intuitive to give drivers less information, by taking away street signs, stop lights and lane markings, but see feedback from advocates of the concept:

If you're faced with a traffic signal, you don't have to think anymore. Whether you go depends on whether the light is red or green. In the absence of such things, we're perfectly capable of reading and understanding the situation so that if grandma's in the road ahead of you, you don't run her over. Hamilton-Baillie, Ben (2008). cited in... German Town's Traffic Plan: Remove Signs, Curbs

Probably the most important thing is doing this [ditching traffic signs to make the roads 'shared space'] in the right places. You can't just do it anywhere, for example where speeds are high. It requires lower speeds which allow drivers and pedestrians time to communicate. And people do it quite naturally. There's a negotiated right-of-way where you look at the driver and wave or signal. Lockwood, Ian (2006). Cited in... Calming Traffic by Losing the Signs

So we don’t install traffic signals at every corner of drug safety evaluation, rather we make it clear what it means to run over grandma, and we allow investigators freedom to regulate their speed and signaling to ensure safe products. Paternalism is replaced by shared responsibility. We slow down and think about whether or not our drug candidate harms grandma, and do not react based on automatic stoplights.