Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

[P]
Common sense alert!

By RichMan in News
Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 08:46:05 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Coroner's jury finds drivers at fault for freeway accidents. It's a radical sensible conclusion that the best way to avoid accidents is to change the way we drive. CBC.ca newstory


Why does it seem radical that the best way to avoid freeway accidents is to get better driving habits? This inquest came at the result of a large multivehicle accident on a Canadian freeway. Fog was involved, but rather than suggest better lighting, or other road improvements the coroner's jury finds that the best correction is better driving habits.

This seems like such a sensible approach that is avoided by many modern accident investigations and inquests that always seek to lay blame on outside factors. Why don't more accident inquests JFK jr. like say Driver/User error?

Why do bicycles have to come with stickers saying "operate with caution" and "familiarize yourself with the manual and handling of the bike"?

Sponsors

Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure

Login

Related Links
o CBC.ca newstory
o Also by RichMan


Display: Sort:
Common sense alert! | 57 comments (40 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
"Common" sense? (1.50 / 2) (#1)
by shadowspar on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 03:10:50 PM EST

It's because common sense is anything but, that we have these problems. =)
-- Drink Canada Dry! You might not succeed, but you'll have fun trying.

Personal Responsibility (4.00 / 5) (#2)
by DemiGodez on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 03:20:45 PM EST

I think society (US at least) has really fallen down in the area of personal responsibility. As a society we rarely take responsibility for our own actions but instead seek out others to blame (and sue).

I think that's why you often see such bulls**t as warning labels and such. No one takes responsibility for their mistakes and thus companies have to protect themselves from stupid consumers suing them.

Re: Personal Responsibility (none / 0) (#17)
by Tr3534 on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 03:34:24 AM EST

I think society (US at least) has really fallen down in the area of personal responsibility. As a society we rarely take responsibility for our own actions but instead seek out others to blame (and sue).

i think youve hit the nail on the head as to what's happening. You want another example of culture going down the toilet? fine. Take the internet as an example. Stop by the Jargon File and take a look at 'The September that Never Ended':
One of the seasonal rhythms of the Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers' capacity to acculturate them.

It's not just AOL (should i say OmniCorp?) anymore these days, but you get the idea. People don't realize that its just a communications medium, but instead something that 'they have.' So they send it to hell, because its fun, not knowing that they are messing up something a lot of people use.

Arrg, sorry bout that, its 2 am.
Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
[ Parent ]
Another link, blames US drivers (none / 0) (#8)
by RichMan on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 05:03:38 PM EST

Another write up on the jury report by the Globe and Mail has more details.

The report includes a recommendation for police to crack down on drivers from out of province, especially American drivers, since that stretch of highway known as "carnage alley" has high levels of traffic from the United States. So the jury did not totally place the responsibility on local behaviour.

Re: Another link, blames US drivers (none / 0) (#30)
by bigdogs on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 08:19:25 AM EST

Um, not to start a flame war, but what are American drivers doing that Canadian drivers aren't?

[ Parent ]
US drivers. (none / 0) (#34)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 09:42:26 AM EST

I'd like start off by by saying that I live in Cincinnati, Ohio which is sqarely in the top ten cities when ranked in number of automobile accidents per capita within the USA.

American drivers suck canal water like an overgrown vaccum cleaner on steroids.

Besides driving with one hand on the wheel, holding the omnipresent cell phone in the other, we have no sense of appropriate speeds for the current weather and traffic conditions. On I-75 (the highway that runs through down-town), we have cars going barely 50 in half the lanes and cars going 70 in the other half with cars going 80 or 90 weaving in and out between them. Its a mess.

We have drivers that don't leave appropriate stopping distances for good weather, let alone inclement weather. When it snows, everyone slows down and still cause accidentes because people haven't quite figured out that when the road is slick one needs more time to come to a complete stop, even when one is moving quite slowly.

I've been almost run over at least five times while walking across the street downtown, in the crosswalk with the 'walk' signal in my favor. I've been almost plowed by a bus while standing on the sidewalk.

Driver's education in the state of Ohio is a joke and I suspect the same is true in the other states. To get an operator's permit one must pass a driving test that includes three left turns and yielding right of way along with a maneuverability exercise and a written test of all of ten questions.

And don't even get me started on lackadaisical enforcement of existing traffic laws. Sometimes on I-75, I drive 85 mph (to keep up with traffic, the only thing more dangerous than driving too quickly in a group of slow moving cars is driving too slowly in a group of fast moving cars) in a zone with a 55 mph speed limit and blow right past state troopers without slowing down because it is well known that the state troopers only go after the really fast automobiles.

Add to this, a system that allows people to rack up multiple DUI (Driving Under the Influence) convictions before revoking their licenses and you get the current mess of traffic fatalities in the States.

So, anyone know if it is that bad in Canada? I've heard rumors that in some other countries (notably Italy) it is even worse.



[ Parent ]
Re: US drivers. (none / 0) (#57)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 05, 2000 at 12:24:58 PM EST

Some links...

Information about Ontario's graduated licensing system and testing required
Information about new drinking and driving legislation in Ontario



[ Parent ]
Re: Another link, blames US drivers (none / 0) (#35)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 09:48:55 AM EST

Ah, this will be down to the US drivers using mph whereas the Canadian drivers use km/h. Of course mphs are faster and therefore more dangerous.

Or it could just be that the rules are slightly different on each side of the border. US drivers aren't expecting canadian drivers to do something, and they do it.

[ Parent ]
Idiot Drivers (none / 0) (#15)
by Maclir on Thu Jun 29, 2000 at 09:19:57 PM EST

Much the same here in Australia. Despite many road accident experts saying that the level of driver skill is far too low, the governments, led by the transport authorities, continue to follow the line that "anybody should be allowed to drive".

After all, it is much easier (and more financially lucrative) to blame "excessive speed" and have speed traps everywhere, that to try to have "stupidity traps".

Ken

Photo radar IS a cash grab (4.00 / 2) (#18)
by sakico on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 03:47:39 AM EST

We've got photo radar where I live. While a few communities have banned it (including my own), they still have free reign on the highways.

Let's think about the last four places I remember seeing photo radar...

  • At the bottom of a hill, where the speed limit halves part way down the hill
  • Hiding behind an overpass on a divided six lane highway, on a straight stretch, where the speed limit is 90km/h.
  • Just past the speed limit change where a highway passes through a tiny, out of the way residential area. Speed goes from 110km/h to 50km/h.
  • In the middle of a 10km straight stretch on a bypass where the speed limit is 70km/h.

In not one of these places do these speeding tickets serve any purpose. The tickets aren't going to slow people down, and slowing people down doesn't prevent many accidents.

I know the highways in the area where I live. I know that on almost every corner where there is a warning sign, you can go through it 30km/h faster (when it's dry) than that warning. There's one stretch of highway where the speed limit is 90, and I get passed regularly while doing 140. There are virtually no accidents on this stretch of highway, but we have photo radar there anyway.

Cash grab, pure and simple.

FWIW, I've never been in an accident in which I am at fault, nor one on a highway.

Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by squigly on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 04:19:20 AM EST

The tickets aren't going to slow people down, and slowing people down doesn't prevent many accidents.

It can. 5 mph will reduce a smash to a knock, and a knock to a near miss in urban driving, and hitting someone at 30mph is about twice as likely to kill them as hitting them at 40mph (going from memory). Pointless on main roads of course where you won't get many pedestrians, or complicated junctions.

OTOH, I have heard of no measures ever to force people to keep their distance, apart from occasional "If you can read this you're too close" stickers.

Of course, it has been argued quite convincingly that if you replaced airbags with a thick metal spike coming out of the steering wheel, then accidents would go down because people would drive more safely.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#44)
by julian on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 02:30:02 PM EST

Of course, it has been argued quite convincingly that if you replaced airbags with a thick metal spike coming out of the steering wheel, then accidents would go down because people would drive more safely.

First time I've heard that one. But I like it, kills two birds with one stone - survival of the safest and scaring people enough to make them drive more safely. ;)

Only problem is, what about people who are hit by other cars when it wasn't their fault. That wouldn't be very fair... oh well. So close to a real solution, but not quite


-- Julian (x-virge)
[ Parent ]
Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#45)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 03:33:50 PM EST

Such measures exist. In Israel, almost every car (I think it's a law) has a sticker that says, in Hebrew, "stay back" (literally, "distance yourself").

[ Parent ]
Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#48)
by sakico on Sat Jul 01, 2000 at 10:08:11 AM EST

Yes, the difference in speed will lessen the damage and injuries done in the case of an accident, but under normal conditions the slower speed limit isn't going to prevent any accidents from happenning outright. I'm sure we've all been speeding, and still passed by someone as though we're standing still. We don't see these these people in the ditch a few minutes later too often. "Speed kills" on occasion, yes. But so do skillets.

Accident reporting... Speed was a factor. (So was the fact that the driver was so drunk that he couldn't see his nose)

Speed was a factor. (So was the fact that the guy was only going this fast because he and his wife were screaming at each other in the car.. Just slightly distracted)

Speed could be considered a genuine factor when a car drives off the road into a ditch or a tree, (or, as on highway 401, into a twenty two car pileup) but again, the people are not paying attention. They'd have probably managed the same at half the speed. Corners excepted, of course.

Speaking of which, I was driving on the highway north of Sooke BC, on Vancouver Island a month or so ago. I loved how on one corner, several bullseyes were spraypainted on a big concrete barrier, with captions such as "John crashed right here ---->" This concrete barrier was chewed up so badly that it was barely believable. Nothing recent though, suggesting that the grafitti had an effect.

[ Parent ]

Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#56)
by Louis_Wu on Mon Jul 03, 2000 at 02:22:46 PM EST

hitting someone at 30mph is about twice as likely to kill them as hitting them at 40mph (going from memory)

You probably mean hitting someone at 40mph is about twice as likely to kill them as hitting them at 30mph (going from memory). Given that Kinetic Energy (KE) is (m*v^2)/2, increasing velocity by 30% will increase KE by 69%, which doesn't say anything about damage to vehicle occupants or likelyhood of death from impact. Impact force is a function of momentum (mass*velocity) and the time it takes for the impact to happen; F=d(momentum)/dt.

My $0.02 of science for the day.

Louis_Wu
"The power to tax is the power to destroy."
John Marshal, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
[ Parent ]

Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#29)
by bigdogs on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 08:10:16 AM EST

Definitely agree with you. We've also got photo radar where I live (Denver), and do they put the vans in residential neighborhoods near schools? Nope! They're hiding under bridges on roads with artifically low speed limits.

[ Parent ]
Re: Photo radar IS a cash grab (none / 0) (#33)
by jallen on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 09:25:42 AM EST

Yep... In Georgia the gov, actually pushed legislation that would make speeding tickets 50 dollars flat fee no matter what your speed.

Many communities that just happen to be near a major road would have the speed limit knocked down to unreasonable low figures and then set up speed traps *all* over. It is a nightmare for people even doing the speed limit in some cases you may not realize that the speed limit just dropped 20mph or more..

It happens so much :-\

[ Parent ]
one effective use of photo radar (none / 0) (#37)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 09:55:20 AM EST

Just last night I was driving my sister and brother-in-law to the airport. When we got off the expressway onto the road that goes to the airport (which is a divided highway with a 45 mph limit) there was a large sign with big blinking led lights that reported the speed of each car as it passed the sign. Despite the 45 mph speed limit, most of the cars driving past were slowing down to 35 - 40 mph.

I'd be willing to wager that most cars would be traveling upwards of 50 mph if not for the sign.



[ Parent ]
Sorry, can't agree (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by kevin lyda on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 05:44:06 AM EST

Here in Ireland and also in the UK they're starting large campaigns to tell people that speeding kills.

Yes, it can kill, but let's look at Irish roads for a second...

Out in the country where a large number of these accidents happen you'll find hundreds of km of roads that twist and turn, have inadaquate markings and are usually barely wide enough for two cars. Even here in Dublin the traffic lights near a major shopping mall were out multiple times for days in a row and there were no garda directing traffic. just an uncontrolled four way intersection. meanwhile there's a wide-open dual carriageway on the n11 where the speed limit is 40mph, and another in galway where the speed limit is 30mph.

drivers need to take personal responsibility but the national roads authority needs to start considering the safety of their roads.

UK viewpoint (none / 0) (#22)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 06:16:08 AM EST

100km/h is only 62.5mp/h and 120km/h is 75mp/h which is only 5mp/h over the UK motorway speed limit for a car that isn't towing. If you're fit, healthy and alert then even 85mp/h is controllable in a modern car.

I feel that the root cause of most accidents is a complete lack of awareness of stopping distances and wrong-side overtaking. I am regularly tailgated at 75mp/h on UK motorways. I've even seen a motorcyclist sandwiched between two cars, all moving at 100+mp/h with about 6ft stopping distance between each of them. The motorcyclist then compounded the situation by wrong-side overtaking the car in front.

"Only a fool breaks the two-second rule" (four+ in the wet!)

Re: UK viewpoint (none / 0) (#23)
by squigly on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 06:27:26 AM EST

I am regularly tailgated at 75mp/h on UK motorways

The official safe thing to do here is to slowdown so that you have more time to stop if you need to. Not always wise in practice. You don't want an irate driver hitting you in the rear and then getting angry, blaming you for slowing down......

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Rearending (none / 0) (#26)
by pwhysall on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 07:50:25 AM EST

The driver hitting you might be irate, but he's in the wrong. He was too close.

On UK roads, if you drive into the back of someone, it's your fault. Sorry, you were too close.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Rearending (none / 0) (#28)
by squigly on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 07:58:01 AM EST

Yeah, I know that's the law. It still won't necesarily stop the other driver from being aggressive, and blaming you. Some people don't respond favourably to the weight of logically and legally valid arguments when they've just knocked a great dent into the front of their BMW.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
[ Parent ]
Re: UK viewpoint (none / 0) (#24)
by Inoshiro on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 07:26:01 AM EST

Why don't people understand?

Most haven't taken high school physics. Ek = 1/2 mv^2. So the energy their brakes must disipate will always vary directly with the square of the speed (since the mass of the car is relatively constant, ditto for the 1/2 factor ;)). But do they explain this in driving manuals? Not really, beyond distance being the square of the velocity. Stupidity kills. Think of it as Darwinism in action.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Your wrong about those speeds. (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by Alhazred on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 09:24:42 AM EST

The FACT is that at 70 mph the average human beings reflex speed is slower than the average amount of time it takes between the time you SEE a stationary obstacle on an expressway and the time it takes before you hit it.

In other words NO HUMAN BEING no matter how well they know how to drive could avoid many routine situations which arise. Furthermore at speeds beyond 55 mph the difficulty of steering a vehicle without loosing control and the fact that a vehicle that has suffered some damage will be completely uncontrollable does not help any.

Every study ever done on speed and collisions shows that noone can drive safely much over 60 mph. You THINK you can, but obviously mr Anonymous you haven't driven through a major accident or two.

People need to relax, grow up, and mellow out, then they wouldn't be in such a hurry. One life lost is too high a price to pay to get 1 million people where they are going 1 minute faster.


That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
Public Transportation (none / 0) (#27)
by bobsquatch on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 07:55:11 AM EST

I live in the San Francisco Bay area. Every afternoon, from about 4-7PM, the local radio stations report accidents on most (if not all) of the major freeways in the area. They report at least 3 accidents on most days-- usually one involving a "big rig" (i.e. a tractor-trailer).

KQED (the local NPR station) also reports BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit -- the subway system) delays. They happen maybe once a month, and are usually nothing more than a 15-minute delay. Nobody injured, nobody killed, nobody with multi-k$ repair bills.

Draw your own conclusions.

(Now, if they can get the SF public transit to actually connect the public transit systems to each other, and open up the bridges to bike traffic, it'd be golden...)

Re: Public Transportation (none / 0) (#39)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 11:11:42 AM EST

(Now, if they can get the SF public transit to actually connect the public transit systems to each other, and open up the bridges to bike traffic, it'd be golden...)

They don't do this because there's no financial reward in it. It doesn't increase ridership and only helps the competition -- keep in mind that most of the transit systems are competing for the same CalTrans dollars every year.

If there were a larger transit district a la the BART board, it would be less of an issue. Planning transit usability wouldn't stop at artificial boundries on county lines.

Emeryville has the right idea: a free (although cheap would be fine) set of local loops that connect to BART and AC transit.

Of course, none of those suggestions would make MUNI busses or the Metro arrive less than 15 minutes late, or in groups of less than three. For that we would need operators that actually gave a squat -- who didn't hide behind a seemingly all-powerful union -- and a return of line inspectors to follow and report on the flow of busses. When I was a kid, there seemed to be far more line inspectors than there are now. I remember reading something in the exonicle a while back that there are only a handful now.

[ Parent ]

Divine Right (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 08:50:44 AM EST

The problem with driving is that everyone believes it is their divine right to use the road and that the rules are "stupid".

How many times have you heard "But I know these roads like the back of my hand!" - This does not help you coming round a bend to find a car parked badly or a child in the road.

How many times have you heard "These speed limits are too low. I have trouble keeping my car under 70mph" - Usually because people drive at 70. Note it is a limit, not necessarily the required speed.

How many times have you heard "The speed cameras are in sneaky positions trying to catch you out" - If you follow the rules of the road, you will not be caught. It is that simple. See a change in speed limit, you should be doing that speed by the time you reach the sign, not past it.

In summary, people will always try to push the limits of laws, particularly when it is something they feel is their right - to drive the highways. If everyone obeyed the laws, accidents would drop to next to nothing.

Yeah, I'll get my head out of my ass now.

Icarus

Re: Divine Right (none / 0) (#51)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 02, 2000 at 10:25:16 AM EST

How many times have you heard "The speed cameras are in sneaky positions trying to catch you out" - If you follow the rules of the road, you will not be caught. It is that simple. See a change in speed limit, you should be doing that speed by the time you reach the sign, not past it.

The fact is that, particularly in the UK, they're putting up speed cameras all over the place and hiding them so they can get revenue from the fines - NOT as a means to reduce speeding. When they were introduced a few years ago, they were prominently placed with large "Speed Camera in operation" signs and used in places that were particularly hazardous.

Now they're put anywhere they fancy, including several local ones that are placed on long, wide, straight sections of road (a couple of them don't even have houses or pavements [US:sidewalk] nearby). They're often hidden behind traffic signs, in bushes, inbetween trees (examples). Is this really a "prevention" method to encourage people to slow down, or just a way to get 40UKP from every other motorist that goes past?

Out across Europe, they're painted in bright colours and are clearly marked (you'll often get 100m, 50m, etc. signs as you approach). They work - they slow people down. The only people they're fining are the ones stupid enough to ignore it completely.

Cynical though I may be - they seem to be an underhand way for the government to make even more money from motorists (we're already paying over 85p/litre on petrol - mostly tax). When they get their hands on digital speed cameras, they'll cut the limits even more to squeeze even more money out of us.

Excessive speed doesn't kill, or even account for that many accidents (less than 6% in the UK). Poorly trained, inattentive drivers kill - but it's easier to attempt slowing everyone down to a crawl rather than raise driving standards.

--
Simon Gardner
(UK motorist without a kuro5hin account :) )

[ Parent ]

Re: Divine Right (none / 0) (#52)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 02, 2000 at 11:08:34 PM EST

When I got my license here in the US I couldnt take a drink and drive a straight line, or turn on my headlights and drive a straight line, I was a HORRIBLE DRIVER. I am very luck I didnt kill someone that year... Now I am an excelent driver as I drive about 100 miles a day for the last 3 years. I think if it was acctually a challenge to get a lisence the world would be better off... I think age doesnt matter at all, 12 or 21 if you cant drive with confidence and handle some basic manuvers you shouldnt be opperating a vehicle!

[ Parent ]
`Defensive Driving', quality of roads (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 11:07:49 AM EST

In the US, many people are taught to be `defensive drivers'. This is one thing that has been pointed to as a Bad Thing, because it teaches drivers to be more aggressive, and to take more risks. Add this to the fact that most drivers (at least until recently) only needed to have a relatively small amount of time taken to learn how to drive. I believe I had to take 20 hours of classes, plus 5 hours of behind-the-wheel training. In some countries, the number of hours required for behind-the-wheel training is around 100! I notice that when people compare the speeds that people can drive at in various places, they often forget to take the quality of roads into account. I spent a short amount of time in Germany a few years back, and I never ever saw a gravel road. The road surfaces were very well maintained (in the West, at least). Their roads are designed to handle high speeds. Also, many cars are not correctly designed. There are a lot of cars that are very unstable below the speed limit, but they run better at 70 mph or whatever. The converse is also true. I thank those people who mentioned the problems associated with braking at increasing speeds -- I never heard of that before, but it does make sense. We certainly need some better physics education in this country ;-)

Overpopulation. (none / 0) (#40)
by 3than on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 11:20:58 AM EST

You know, there are just a lot of people in the world. When a lot of them have cars, and drive fast in the same place, shit happens.
Car crashes are more or less a consequence of cars. A lot of people, though we give them licenses, are not fit to drive cars. I'm a good example-I'm not a terrible driver. I've had an accident which was more or less my fault. It was because I was not paying attention, and it was early in the morning. Shit happens. I'm not a bad driver-but I'm not a good driver all the time. And that's the truth for most people.
Sometimes people speed. Sometimes they fall asleep at the wheel. Sometimes they just don't care about driving safely. I think that people should realize every day that driving a car is more dangerous than owning a gun, or doing drugs, or walking around in bad neighbourhoods. Letting people drive is a lot like handing a loaded pistol with the safety off to someone who almost understands it.
I'm pretty sure that automated driving will be big at some point in the near future. I'm also sure that people will always be doing some driving manually-but what will end is manual driving when you don't want to be doing it because you're tired or can't concentrate. The change will probably piss some people off because they're 'losing' some sort of control, but really, it's perhaps the most important public-safety feature that could be implemented for anything. It also opens up the possibility of energy-conserving driving schemes and truly effective traffic management. Can you imagine a precisely-controlled rush hour with just as many cars, but at normal highway speeds? I thought you could.
Let's face it-people are the weak link in the system.

Re: Overpopulation. (none / 0) (#46)
by analog on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 05:10:03 PM EST

Letting people drive is a lot like handing a loaded pistol with the safety off to someone who almost understands it.

Interesting factoid: for the last year figures are available (1997, IIRC), the number of people killed in car accidents in the U.S. was almost identical to the number of people killed by guns (approx. 34,000).

I like to bring this out when people are screaming for new gun control laws to point out that guns aren't the only thing killing people senselessly. The ease with which people can get (and keep) a driver's license, at least in the U.S., is truly ridiculous.

When I was a teenager my parents were in the U.S. Air Force, stationed in Germany. Because I was an American dependent, I didn't have to take a driving skills test (although I heard many stories about how difficult they were), but I did have to take two 100 question written tests. IIRC, you could miss a maximum of five questions on each. Contrast that with California, where I believe (it's been so long since I've had to take it I can't remember) it's a single 20 question test, and you can miss a like number of questions. And take it three times in a single day.

*Sigh* And people wonder why there are so many morons on the road...

[ Parent ]

Performance (none / 0) (#41)
by Rand Race on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 11:47:25 AM EST

What nobody adresses is the difference in performance of various vehicles. Nothing terrifies me more than having an SUV ride my RX-7's ass. We're talking 4000Lbs + tailgaiting a 2800Lb sportscar with oversized vented/drilled disk brakes all around. I can come to a complete stop, from 60 MPH, in just under 90 feet (Speed does kill kids, it's 300ft at 100MPH), the best SUV made takes 120 feet, most are much more. I hate that crap.

I used to drive like a maniac, until I started amature SCCA racing and learned exactly how much my cars can do and what happens when you exceed their limits (I don't know if I will ever drive an MR-2 on the road again... at least not a 300HP one ;). I think everyone should be given the chance to push their cars to the edge on a closed and safe track/skidpad. Understanding the limits of your vehicle and the consequences of exceeding them are integral to truly good driving. The other piece of advice I have for good driving (and everything else) is one word: THINK.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Well how interesting ? (none / 0) (#42)
by Shoddy on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 12:19:51 PM EST

Car crashed eh ? Interesting. So, why are you debating this. I joined this group to discuss things, many things, but not this. I know that this is a fledgling group, but come on - this is not what I need on a friday afternoon. People crash cars because they make mistakes. However good they think they are they always make mistakes. Just look everywhere. THERE IS NOTHING TO DISCUSS HERE. Sorry to flame this topic, but from where I am sitting this is just plain lame.
NT = Nuisance Technology !
The replies highlight the problems (none / 0) (#43)
by Rasputin on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 02:22:12 PM EST

In several of the replies, I've seen some bad assumptions and incomplete information. Rather that add replies to all of them (I'm lazy ;) I'll just comment generally and people can draw there own conclusions.

First, the theory that speeding on open and dry roads is not more dangerous than doing the speed limit. A quick check of the actual distances to stop shows (these numbers include an adjustment for reaction times) at 60 MPH you need 312 ft, at 70 you need 399, at 80 you need 496, etc. In other words, you need to see and react to problems in the road ahead nearly 100 ft further for each 10 MPH at highway speeds. Or you can expect to stop shortly after hitting that stalled car ahead of you. Doesn't matter how well you know the road, it's how far ahead can you effectively see and judge closure rates. A study by the NHTSA (1989) showed that fatal accidents increased by 21% when the speed limit was raised from 55 to 65. I thinks it's a safe guess that at least some of these fatalities "knew the roads like the back of their hand".

In the city, if you hit a pedestrian at 20 MPH there is a 5% chance of killing him/her. At 30 MPH you now have a 45% shot at causing death (European Transport Safety Council, 1995). How sure are you that the kid you see ahead will not step into the road in front of you when you're speeding?

The roads are generally built for average vehicles at specific speeds (at least the newer North American ones). That means, as an example, a mid-sized car will generate a specific maximum lateral force when doing the posted speed in a turn or on a freeway on-ramp. If your car is heavier, is a truck, has bad suspension, etc, you'll need to slow down to remain safe, although there is a safety factor built into the maximum lateral force acceptable for a curve at the posted speed. The lane widths, shoulders, sight distances, guard-rail placements etc are all based on specific vehicle sizes doing specific speeds. That's why trucks are still limited to 55 MPH on many of the roads where the car limit is 65 MPH. If you get too far outside what they've designed for the risks go up substantially.

Lastly, is there any benefit to speeding? Well for a 30 mile trip, it will take you 30 minutes at 60 MPH. If you do the same trip at 75 MPH you'll save a whopping 6 minutes ;) Unless you get pulled over for speeding, in which case it will take about 10 - 20 minutes longer depending on the cop. In general, the shorter the distance to be travelled, the more of a speed increase you need for the same amount of time differential. To save that same 6 minutes on a 15 mile trip you'll need to up your speed from 60 to 100 MPH. Turns out, the speeding tickets are just a tax on peole who are in a hurry but never did the math ;) If you're not speeding, photo radar is not going to be an issue.

I'm not going to even try for aggressive driving, sleepy or impaired drivers or running amber or red lights and other such stupid people tricks. I hope we can all recognize that there is no way to justify these types of behaviour unless someone feels there is a specific right to injure, maim and kill with your car.
Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.

Re: The replies highlight the problems (none / 0) (#47)
by adamsc on Fri Jun 30, 2000 at 08:01:24 PM EST

A study by the NHTSA (1989) showed that fatal accidents increased by 21% when the speed limit was raised from 55 to 65.
Note that while you have many reasonable points, this one is obsolete. There was a decline in fatalities when the speed limit was raised nationwide. The only significant increase was on a freeway in Texas where part stayed at 55MPH and the accidents were caused by the sudden change in speeds, suggesting that it's not the speed itself which is dangerous as much as the changes of speed and speed differential between cars.
Well for a 30 mile trip, it will take you 30 minutes at 60 MPH. If you do the same trip at 75 MPH you'll save a whopping 6 minutes
This is just specious. Why not drive 55MPH and be extra safe? Any way you cut it, 15% faster is 15% faster.

[ Parent ]
Re: The replies highlight the problems (none / 0) (#54)
by Rasputin on Mon Jul 03, 2000 at 02:15:42 AM EST

We'll take the easy one first ;)

15% is actually not particularly important under most circumstances. When was the last time that 5 minutes was the difference between being on time and losing the [deal, job, etc]? The speed increase relative to the potential gain is a losing proposition. Also, considering the distance of the average trip, 15% is best measured in seconds, which I hope won't impact your life that much. Interestingly, the majority of accidents (I'll find the numbers if you don't believe me ;) occur within about 10 minutes drive of home. How much is that 15% really worth? That's why the subsequent comment about how much faster you'd need to drive to save the same amount of time for a shorter trip.

As to driving 55 MPH versus 60? Well, I'm in Canada, and everything is geared to 100 KPH (62MPH) and I translated for our non-metric American friends ;)

Finally, you're quite right that speed differential is a more significant cause of accidents. I was trying to make a point about speeding in general. When the speed changed, you had people driving at the old limit and people speeding compared to the new limit. That's where most (but not all) of the problem came from. I probably should have included a comment to that effect, but I prefer to keep my posts as short as possible. I'm not a student of communications so I guess I still have some stuff to learn.
Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
[ Parent ]

Re: The replies highlight the problems (none / 0) (#49)
by pdcruze on Sat Jul 01, 2000 at 08:25:57 PM EST

Actually, I think you're missing the point behind many people's posts. As I read them, people are not saying that we should do away with speed limits or that we should encourage speeding. What they're saying is that the authorities' message that speeding kills is simplistic.

Sure speed contributes to a fatality. But ultimately, poor driver skills contributes to almost all accidents and fatalities. This is regardless of the speed involved. A bad driver doing 25mph is just as capable of killing someone as that same driver doing 65mph. But the message coming out of speed-reduction campaigns the world over is that if you speed, you'll kill or injure someone. The obvious conclusion from this is that if you don't speed, you won't be involved in an accident. This of course is utter crap but it is the message that is being promoted to the mass population.

What the authorities seem to be trying to achieve with their speed reduction campaign is reduce the probability that bad drivers will cause serious fatalities - hopefully they hit/crash/smash into objects/people at a slower speed and therefore reduce the severity of the impact.

There's no talk about better educating the driver so that they can avoid accidents in the first place. Unfortunately, better education costs money and costs votes. And which politician is going to stand up to the electorate and propose better driver education?

So we end up with rubber-band solutions that don't address the fundamental problems - that we're all basically poorly educated drivers.


[ Parent ]
Re: The replies highlight the problems (none / 0) (#53)
by Rasputin on Mon Jul 03, 2000 at 01:47:45 AM EST

You're quite correct that there wasn't a call for improved driver education. Unfortunate, but reality. I wasn't responding to the majority, but rather a small minority.

The point of the original article's link was that we need to crack down on "aggressive drivers". I would agree this is not a complete solution, but it should certainly qualify as a move in the right direction.

My basic point was that it's very difficult to justify aggressive driving, and a crackdown would not be a bad idea. I was rather miffed at the number of people who seemed not to realize that it's driving style that causes most accidents, and that includes speed (see the comments about photo radar being a cash grab). People seem to have an inflated view of their driving ability and a deflated view of the driving ability of everybody else (I hate generalizing, but it seems appropriate here ;) Unfortunately, that means they drive like Mario Andretti, but have an average driving ability.

I think we're both thinking the same way, I just chose to comment on the minority posts ;)
Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
[ Parent ]

Common sense alert! | 57 comments (40 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:

kuro5hin.org

[XML]
All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!