Safety not fine? Install a shrine!

Himalayan India has a rich tradition of humorous safety signs placed along precarious mountain roads (like AFTER WHISKY, DRIVING RISKY, or DARLING I WANT YOU, BUT NOT SO FAST, or ROAD IS HILLY, DON’T DRIVE SILLY), but apparently setting up traffic-slowing Hindu shrines at trouble-spots is far more effective. I wonder if Christian shrines at highway accident sites (designed to instill caution and remembrance, but not necessarily to get folks to stop) have anything like the same effect. I doubt it.

a Freakonomics Blog post, 7 April 2009

Karan Talwar, a blogger and Freakonomics reader, writes about an interesting traffic nudge near Shimla, India. The roads into Shimla are notoriously dangerous, and traffic signs have done little to lessen the problem. So local authorities began constructing temple shrines at hot spots. The nudge worked like a charm: “Turns out even though the average Indian has no respect for traffic laws and signs, they will slow down before any place of worship and take a moment to ask for blessings!”

Originally published at

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