How Amman Uses Visual Distractions To Slow Down Traffic

Near my home exists a giant traffic circle. Actually, the street is home to three traffic circles that are no more than 200-300 meters apart from one another. It is, perhaps, a symbolic representation of Amman itself, which is known to be littered with these circles. What’s interesting about this particular circle is that every time I pass it, which is several times a day, I’ve noticed cars have started to slow down as they’re turning the circle. Why? Because the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) has discovered a great way to reduce speeding on its traffic circles by putting up visual obstacles; billboards. It’s like driving during a city-wide blackout or during a massive thunderstorm – suddenly, everyone’s a bit more careful with their driving for fear of colliding with another vehicle.

The Jordan Festival, which has been going on for the past month or so, has put up giant billboards on various sections of traffic circles across the city, causing cars, who are unable to see other cars that are driving within the inner parts of the circle, to slow down, and for the latter to take it easy for fear that a car entering the circle won’t see them. And, in the meantime, from an advertising point of view, everyone slows down just enough to get a real good look at the poster, the specific event, the time and location, and maybe even jot down the information if they have a free hand. In other words, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

But size matters in this case, and it’s interesting to see the small vertical-sized posters that often hang on the side of the street lights that line the middle of major roads. The writing is often so small on those posters that you really have to slow down your car and squint your eyes to read all the information. Again, a win-win situation; a message is delivered and cars are forced to slow down in order for that to happen.

Also, some of those vertical ones are so low that they often times hit the driver’s side of the car. I’ve seen this happen first hand, and for those that haven’t it’s quite a sight, and you can sometimes see the aftermath of such collisions happy accidents in the form of twisted up, bent, beaten and broken billboards that lay hanging from the street light. But again, it does slow down those speeding cars.
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Jordanian Observations #3 [Traffic Cops]

Did you ever notice, whenever there seems to be a great deal of traffic in a specific spot, there is always a traffic cop around, and that it also feels like the traffic actually increases due to his/her presence?


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