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Notable during the past several days has been the activity of the Harvard Bureau for street Traffic Research, which attracted attention in the newspapers Thursday morning with a statement on auto headlights by Val J. Roper, of General Electric, and this morning with an address on traffic fatalities by a member of the National Safety Council. The public has slowly come to realize that driving a car is an exacting, complicated task. They are now eager to be told what the latest research in this field has discovered. For this reason, the Street Traffic Bureau is an important public oracle; it is looked upon as the voice of experts.
To be so designated is a great responsibility; the reputation as an expert must be lived up to--or confidence evaporates. The Bureau did little to inspire confidence by Mr. Roper's speech. He did not talk like an expert; he scarcely made good sense. He advocated 50-watt bulbs for night driving instead of the present 30-watt bulbs. Immediately any reader of high school intelligence wants to know how blinding glare can be reduced by doubling the illumination. And this very essential point Mr. Roper chose to ignore.
This morning's contribution to the public knowledge of traffic problems is equally notable for saying nothing. As far as suggestions for relieving America's 39,700 fatalities are concerned, this speaker also remains mute. In short, these two speakers disappointed their public, and this is a direct reflection on the Bureau for whom they spoke. Surely it is not too much to expect of experts that they give, instead of vague generalizations, some real suggestions. Future speakers should bear in mind that while the public may not want technical dissertations, they do demand logical analysis, coupled with some original information. That is but the true function of research.
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