Lesson: TRAFFIC (C1 level)

You’re going to listen to some videos about driving and how to make the roads safer, and you’ll have the chance to discuss your opinions and practise your vocabulary. For the speaking parts, you’ll need a study partner or a teacher who can do the lesson together with you.

Before we start, I want to check that you’re OK with the theme of road accidents – if it’s not a good topic for you then please look for another lesson. We won’t be watching any videos of accidents but in this lesson you will need to think about some situations where there will be a crash.

But first…

1. Talk with your partner about these questions:

  • Can you drive?
  • Do you enjoy driving? (or, if you don’t drive, would you enjoy driving?)
  • How often do you get stuck in traffic jams?
  • Are there any roads in your home town that you avoid using, and why?
  • When driving (or cycling) do you prefer to take the shortest route between two places, or do you sometimes go on a longer route?
  • What causes traffic jams?

2. Try this mini-quiz to learn some verbs related to driving.

3. Watch 0:00 to 0:40 of the video and listen out for the answers to these questions:

  • What in general is the cause of traffic jams, according to the speaker?
  • Which animal does he compare drivers to? Why?

Check if your partner has the same answers as you – then you can both check here for my answers.

4. Talk with your partner about this question:

  • If a chicken suddenly crosses the road, what effect will this have on the traffic?

5. Watch the next part of the video and see if the speaker agrees with you about what will happen when a chicken crosses the road.

To see my answers, go here.

6. Talk with your partner:

  • How often do chickens cross the road in your town or region?
  • What other things can cause cars to slow down or stop?

To see my answers, click here.

7. Watch the last part of the video and think about the answers to these questions:

  • Why does one car changing lane create a traffic jam?
  • What does the speaker say about the solution to traffic in cities?

For answers, go here.

8. Do you agree that this type of vehicle would make the roads safer and more efficient? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this type of vehicle?

9. Here is a video on a related topic. Watch the first part of the video and think about these questions:

  • What are the 3 options?
  • What should the driverless car do?
  • Is that the same as what a responsible driver would do?

My answers are here.

10. Here’s another situation from later in the video. What are the options here? What should the driverless car do?

 Answers and vocabulary here.

11. We can call this kind of situation a moral dilemma – a dilemma because you have to make a difficult choice between different options, and moral because those decisions are about what is right and wrong, or good and bad.

In the next part of the lesson, you’re going to look at some more dilemmas. But first, let’s think about the general issues of self-driving cars and safety. Think about the questions and then talk with your partner about your opinions.

  • Should self driving cars be programmed to save their own driver and passengers first, even if that causes danger to other people on the road? Or should they be designed to minimise harm, to cause the smallest possible number of injuries or deaths?
  • Who should decide how self driving cars make decisions about safety? The programmers? The drivers? The government? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
  • Should self-driving cars give priority to saving certain types of people? For instance, children? Older people? Pedestrians?
  • How likely are situations like the ones in the video?
  • Can self driving cars ever know exactly what will happen if they crash into another vehicle?
  • Who should be responsible in law if a self driving vehicle gets into an accident?

12. To help technology companies to plan for the future, researchers at MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) have asked people all around the world to solve some moral dilemmas involving self-driving cars.

Each situation has a self-driving car which can’t stop – the brakes have failed – so we have to decide if it should go straight ahead or swerve. Some of these choices will make the car hit a barrier so that everyone in the car will be injured or killed. Some choices will involve driving into pedestrians.

Go to the webpage below, click ‘English’ and ‘Browse Scenarios’, and you’ll see the first one. Click on ‘Show Description’ to see all the details. Talk with your partner about what you think the car should do, and why. When you’re finished with the first scenario, click the arrow to move to the next scenario.


There’s also the option to create your own scenarios for your partner to decide – click on ‘design’ at the top right of the page.

13. The results of this survey were very interesting! Click here to find out more and do some vocabulary, reading and listening practice.

14. What do these results tell us about cultural differences around the world? What other ways can we divide the world based on cultural difference? Talk with your partner about your ideas.

15. Go over to theconversation.com to read the complete article that you saw earlier in the lesson. Why does the writer say that it is impossible for a self-driving vehicle to make a moral decision? What arguments does he use? What do you think is his view of the kind of questions asked by the MIT research team? Do you agree with his opinion?

You might want to take some time at home to read the article – then set a time later in the week to talk with your study partner about your answers.

16. After everything you have read and heard in this lesson, have your opinions changed towards self-driving vehicles? Do you think they are a good or a bad idea? Talk with your partner – or write a comment in the box below!

Creative Commons Licence
Lesson: TRAFFIC by the owners of englishin3d.net is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://englishin3d.net/about/.

Cover photo from Pixabay via www.pexels.com.

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