The evolution of traffic behavior

Roads in England

This is my first post after holiday that we spent, as announced before, in England. It was not, as I anticipated, a problem to accommodate to left-hand driving. Most of the roads we traveled on were either one-lane roads, such as shown on the picture, or multi-lane highways, so it didn’t matter actually which side you drive, and my driving habits didn’t had an impact on selection of neither British drivers nor fortunately myself.

I easily changed my habit to left-hand driving, but we had a lot of trouble figuring out which side is currently left and which one right. Accustom to right-hand driving, turning left means cross the street and turning right is just flip the corner. Not so in left hand driving. Every so often my navigation system ordered a left turn and I as usual took the entrance across the street, which was certainly wrong and usually ended in ever narrower streets. In one town, I went the same circle two times till I realized that at one intersection I always took the wrong turn. To my satisfaction, I was not the only one who repeatedly made this mistake. My wife also yelled: “Turn right! To the right! Right! Right I said.”, and I did precisely as suggested. I was correct that time, though she didn’t admit, certainly.

Not left hand driving but the narrow and steep lanes challenged my driving skills. To someone who is spoiled by broad highways or highway-like roads or who only visited countries before where narrow streets even temporarily receive a one way sign, cannot imagine the excitement to drive a van in back gear, 200 meter uphill, with a slope of 20%, and a road so narrow that on both sides the bushes scratch. The car was smoking as a steam engine after that maneuver.

But what all this has to do with evolution. Well, one would expect most Brits buy small cars to better navigate these road. In fact I’ve seen some small cars, but most often I met large SUVs that are quite uncomfortable in these narrow roads. Are they really? They a clumsy in evading for sure, but they are excellent in conveying the message: You must pull over. I wont. Don’t even think about it. It is the same thing that we encounter in biological evolution: The information content of an appearance is more important than its physical properties. This supports the fauceir assumption that evolution is about information not traits.

Creative Commons License

This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at


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