Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


death tripping
November 24, 2003 4:00 PM   Subscribe

1.26 million people killed every year on the road or from subsequent injuries... ..Four Qld road deaths in 5 hours. 42,815 people died in 2002 in automobile crashes in the United States. Shouldn't these facts give us the resolve to explore a better solution to our transportation needs? I do not see the national debate that these deaths would evoke if the cause was different. Why are we numb to this?
posted by JohnR (76 comments total)

 
That's a good question. Ah well, back to watching Fox News...
posted by shagoth at 4:06 PM on November 24, 2003


Why are we numb to this?

Because the people usually die in small numbers at any time, because most of the accidents are accidents, and because we have already done many things to help reduce the number of deaths (car safety features, speed limits, drunk driver laws, etc.).

Yeah, it sounds more inflamatory to say more people died in 2002 car crashes than the population of the suburb where I grew up. But what percentage of all deaths in 2002 are we talking about?
posted by ilsa at 4:07 PM on November 24, 2003


I've been riding in cars for almost 50 years now, and I can attest that I am still alive. But I would consider switching to a flying car when one becomes available.
posted by groundhog at 4:11 PM on November 24, 2003


Heart failure and Malignant neoplasms cause over half of all deaths of  people over 45.  Accidents and adverse effects resulting from the accidents is the leading cause of death for people under 45 to 1 year of age.  Of all the causes of death due to accidents, the leading cause is motor vehicle accidents.   Motor vehicle accidents remain a high risk for all age groups.
posted by boaz at 4:11 PM on November 24, 2003


These "auto-mobiles" are obviously lethal in the hands of the fleshy humans. They must be banned immediately.

You can take my car keys when you pry them from my cold, dead hands...
posted by majcher at 4:22 PM on November 24, 2003


Why are we numb to this?

I'm not numb to it, I'm just not alarmed. This graph sums up why.
posted by WolfDaddy at 4:24 PM on November 24, 2003


Sure, but accidents are one of nature's great equalizers. First of all, out of those 42k people, how many died from suicides? Where I live in Oregon, we routinely get 4 or 5 suicides a year where a driver decides to veer out of one lane and run into a semi truck (I've seen the carnage first hand, and a torso in the road. It's not pretty.) Then there's the stupid people. I know there's tons of accidents out there that really are tragic, but take this accident for example, where a women survives a car wreck, downs a powerline in the process and then FORGETS TO AVOID the powerline when she gets back in her car. (Self link to the newspaper I work for, but oh well.)

I'm sure all of us have known at least one person killed by a "senseless" accident, but for everyone of those, I can think of five caused by stupid people who never should have been driving anyway.
posted by Happydaz at 4:24 PM on November 24, 2003


You'll have to kill me to get the steering wheel out of these hands.
posted by Postroad at 4:24 PM on November 24, 2003


....because most of the accidents are accidents...

Complete cop-out. Accidents are caused by people making mistakes - they don't just happen. And you may be aware that speed limits have risen over the past few years, resulting in the inevitably higher death rates.

Slow down, folks. The five minutes you may save by speeding, tailgating, or weaving in and out of traffic will never compensate for the inevitable months of pain, disfigurement, and rehabilitation from the accident you cause....if you are in fact lucky enough to survive your own stupidity.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2003


Why are we numb ? Because many among us think that 1) they're excellent drivers 2) the accident is not going to happen to them 3)they don't care about others. As usual I think that the driver is the most dangerous thing on the road, not the car itself.

Granted, there may be cars that are poorly designed or designed on-a-budget trying to scrap production costs left and right ; that sucks, but as long as people demands more looks and more speed and accept the trade off of less security, industry is not going to do anything about that.

About the driver, I wonder how many remember about safety distance, regular car check-ups (expecially brakes and tires) and if they remember that the faster you go, the longer it is going to take to stop your car. On the contrary, safety-freaks-drivers (expecially women) are as well dangerous because they freak out easily and are unpredictable.

Guess a potential solution is in active sensor technology, breaking the car you when you're incoming on another car waaay to fast, as computers can react much faster then any human being.Other systems ABS and traction control. are apparently helpful, would like to have raw data on their usage mandatorily collected and open-sourced.One gotta figure out the situation in which ABS or other technology is going to fail, but in the long term it will probably be figured out
posted by elpapacito at 4:33 PM on November 24, 2003


We could start by teaching people how to drive instead of how to pass the driving test before letting them loose in deadly projectiles. Perhaps the millions raised from speed cameras could be used towards this?

Huge sums of money have been spent on research into preventing injuries in accidents, but very little on reducing the accidents in the first place. If you do not know how to drive a car to the point where you can instinctively react appropriately in an emergency situation, you should not be on the road in the first place. Governments everywhere need to get tough on driver standards if we are ever to see any meaningful reduction in accident levels, but they will never do this because of the inevitable voter backlash.

I am certainly not convinced that speed itself is a major cause of accidents - inappropriate speed may be a factor in many cases, but lack of skill on the part of the driver is, I believe, the main (and undocumented) cause of most road accidents. Knowing whether it is safe to drive at any speed (not necessarily over the speed limit) is as important a skill as being able to react appropriately if a car starts to lose control or knowing how to brake in the shortest distance without losing control. None of these skills are required to drive a car, but they are essential elements if we are to reduce the road toll.
posted by dg at 4:41 PM on November 24, 2003


i don't know about women being overly cautious drivers elpapacito: some of the most reckless drivers i've ridden with have been women. does that mean most reckless drivers are women? i would love it if someone had statistics on gender.
posted by poopy at 4:43 PM on November 24, 2003


These "auto-mobiles" are obviously lethal in the hands of the fleshy humans. They must be banned immediately.

I, for one, welcome our new robotic overlords.
posted by hadashi at 4:46 PM on November 24, 2003


people rationalize their behaviour, especially when being assholes.
posted by skinsuit at 4:52 PM on November 24, 2003


poopy. I'll elaborate my statement further : I'm talking about safety-freak women driver, these that would for instace brake too much when they see the car in front of them is braking, or that get easily scared by "big nasty trucks" and cause a traffic jam because they can't just surpass the truck. Probably you implied that what I was saying is that women in general are bad drivers, but that would be a far too broad generalization ; in my experience all the overly cautious (read safety freak) drivers I've met are women, I've rarely seen reckless female drivers, the ones I've met are usually males.
posted by elpapacito at 4:56 PM on November 24, 2003


I want thisfor Christmas.

And I want it to say the following:

1. Slower traffic keep right.
2. Get off the cell phone.
posted by linux at 4:57 PM on November 24, 2003


The future?
posted by JohnR at 4:57 PM on November 24, 2003


The Four Deadliest Cars of All Time:
When you think of an "unsafe" car, what springs to mind? The exploding gas tank of the Ford Pinto? The Yugo, widely regarded as the worst-built car of all time? The car Ralph Nader labeled "unsafe at any speed" for an alleged tendency to flip over, the Chevy Corvair? ...

The four deadliest cars of all time:... "The Firebirds and Camaros have done very well in crash tests," says Pund. "Combined with high death rates, what that statistic tells you is how people handle those cars."

Champion of Consumers Union agrees that the type of driver is an important factor. "The person behind the wheel has a lot to do with the death rates," says Champion.

And young males, propelled by their testosterone, are the ones that are most likely to die in a car crash, says Champion.
And just in case you're wondering what's holding up the flying car.
posted by boaz at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2003


numb to it? This person sounds high on it.
posted by scarabic at 5:16 PM on November 24, 2003


johnr: I think high speed public transporation could be excellent and economical for people that commute and don't need a car to reach some other destination not covered by public transport. Probably it would become more attractive if you could bring your car with you in long distance tracks (for instace coast-2-coast) at a comparatively low price (factoring the otherwise probably needed car rental cost among the travel cost). Doubt people is going to give up their ability to move anywhere they want at any time with their car.
posted by elpapacito at 5:17 PM on November 24, 2003


I'm not numb, I just find myself very uneasy in cars. And I'm not convinced the solution is necessarily to do with drivers - there will always be bad driving, and whilst everything should be done to prevent it there's not a huge amount you can do.

I'm sure the biggest cause of accidents is the amount of freight being transported by road unnecessarily. The chart WolfDaddy linked shows how low death rates for lorry drivers are, but the sad truth is that lorry drivers walk away from accidents and the poor bastards they plough into don't. Were governments a little less spineless in terms of taxing fuel and getting goods off the roads and on to railways we'd see a massive reduction in the number of accidents. I very rarely see a road accident that didn't involve a lorry, and I've seen enough irresponsible and downright dangerous lorry driving to confirm my suspicions that they are often at fault. Tired drivers working long shifts, or even worse tired drivers in a hurry not wanting to overrun their maximum driving hours, do not make for safe roads.

Similarly (certainly in the UK) having a commuter rail network that was anywhere near reliable and affordable to be usable would help. The solution has always been to build wider, more complex roads that encourage more driving and bad driving (endless lane-swapping and confusing junctions) when the solution should be to find a safer and more environmentally sustainable way of getting around.

So yes, not only should we be looking for alternatives, but we should be forcing governments to implement, improve, subsidise and promote these alternatives. And to my mind that means diverting cash from road-building into public transport, because people aren't going to get out of their cars until they see a viable alternative. And if the carrot of reliable public transport isn't tempting enough, then congestion charges and fuel tax could be the stick. Unfortunately there's just a little too much money to be made selling 42-cupholder petrol-munching lifestyle accessories for anyone in power to seriously consider it.
posted by zygoticmynci at 5:33 PM on November 24, 2003


it's funny that one of the solutions to the problem, the bicycle, is less popular than it could be because people are afraid to share the road with cars.

for a commute up to 15-20 miles a bicycle is a great alternative to a car for most of the year. nothing makes you feel better than riding 30-40 miles a day, day after day. biking is all positive except for the nagging fear that a bad driver is going to rub you out someday. I hate that.
posted by n9 at 5:37 PM on November 24, 2003


what if we just made vehicles bigger? that way they could endure more damage.
posted by mcsweetie at 5:38 PM on November 24, 2003


dg hits the nail on the head, big time. unfortunately, when state governments do bother to require driver's education, they're almost never going to oversee it themselves, leaving it to perhaps somewhat opportunistic third parties.

the keys to increasing automobile safety are education and training, which are completely unappealing to 16-year-olds (and the parents who want them to run errands and take charge of their own transportation). there are also possible safety adjustments that could make a big difference (most notably slower and smaller cars), but i'm not holding my breath.

n9 is also right, of course. i gave up my car for a bike years ago, but i live in a city where that's possible. unfortunately, anything out of urban areas is difficult for bikers, and uber-dangerous drivers in the urban areas are reason enough to walk or take the bus too.

as much as Critical Mass is maligned for being seemingly unconstructive, it *is* one way to transform that group of people who would normally ride but are afraid b/c of dangerous cars into daily commuters. the more bikes on the road, the safer it is for all of us.
posted by mrgrimm at 6:24 PM on November 24, 2003


... I'm not convinced the solution is necessarily to do with drivers - there will always be bad driving, and whilst everything should be done to prevent it there's not a huge amount you can do.
How about educating drivers so that they are capable of avoiding an accident in the first place? Of course, to make this effective, you need to make the necessary skills a requirement of being allowed to drive. This would unfortunately eliminate a certain amount of people from driving due to being unable to meet the minimum standards and no government anywhere would be able to withstand the flak that this would cause.

It frustrates me to see millions being spent on research into preventing injuries during an accident when a far better solution is to prevent the accident in the first place. Car design has come a long way and pretty much any modern car is capable of being driven at reasonable speeds in safety - the weak link has become the drivers who are let loose on the roads with only a cursory (at best) check of their abilities (does it really matter that much if you can't reverse park?).

As I see it, at the heart of the problem is that driving is viewed as a right rather than a privilege and everyone seems to think they should be given a license just because they turn 17, rather than having to prove they are competent.
posted by dg at 6:33 PM on November 24, 2003


I've often wondered if we introduced transporters that had as high of an accident rate, with exactly the same stats if it would be outright rejected by the populace. Something about controlling one's own destiny on a small scale allows us to rationalize the risk. It won't happen to me: I'm an excellent driver! Whereas a transporter would jib people without any input or ability on their part.
posted by woil at 6:56 PM on November 24, 2003


Accidents are caused by people making mistakes.

I think this is far more accurately stated as: Accidents are caused by people choosing unsafe behaviours.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on November 24, 2003


I'd like the opportunity to buy a safe car, like the ones in nascar. Those guys wreck at 200mph, flip 15 times, catch fire, and often walk away unscathed.

I'm seriously thinking of wearing a helmet when it rains.

And, yes, my friends think I'm crazy.
posted by mrhappy at 7:07 PM on November 24, 2003


I'm seriously thinking of wearing a helmet when it rains.

If you wore a helmet when you were in a car, you'd probably survive most accidents. Aside from the great safety technology in race cars, one of the biggest reasons drivers almost always survive accidents is that they're wearing helmets (Ayrton Senna aside).
posted by biscotti at 7:24 PM on November 24, 2003


How about educating drivers so that they are capable of avoiding an accident in the first place?

Or working on automatic systems that can do that for you -- ones that have reaction times in the single-digit milliseconds instead of the hundreds of milliseconds, that can apply brakes to the correct wheels in the correct amounts at the correct time, and so on.

They don't need to be perfect, just better than the average driver, or, say, the 75th percentile driver.

biscotti: five-point belt is important too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:25 PM on November 24, 2003


Cars = Freedom!

Public Transportation = Socialism
posted by Mick at 7:35 PM on November 24, 2003


People die, and in my opinion, far too few of them.
posted by SweetJesus at 7:54 PM on November 24, 2003


biscotti: five-point belt is important too.
Not to mention the roll cage that takes up most of the passenger space and means you have to climb in through the window. Or the flameproof nomex underwear and hood and the multi-layer flameproof driving suit including gloves and shoes. Certainly safer, but not too convenient if you are just popping down to the shops.

Or working on automatic systems that can do that for you ...
No automatic system can take the place of a competent, alert driver. The greatest failure of automatic systems is that they can only react to what has already happened, they cannot anticipate potentially dangerous situations and react before they happen. Automatic systems can be of assistance to a competent driver, but they will not make an unsafe driver into a safe one.
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on November 24, 2003


ROU_Xenophobe - So how would you feel about the 2010 "Driver insurance cost reduction act" which required all automibile drivers to wear helmets and 5 point restraint seat belts?

I honestly don't know what your opinion might be on the matter.

"for a commute up to 15-20 miles a bicycle is a great alternative to a car for most of the year. nothing makes you feel better than riding 30-40 miles a day, day after day. biking is all positive except for the nagging fear that a bad driver is going to rub you out someday. I hate that."
( n9 ) - Me too.
posted by troutfishing at 8:03 PM on November 24, 2003


Okay, so the pretty picture wasn't worth a thousand words.

Go read this thread again, and take a deep breath. It's not like things are getting worse in the long term when it comes automobile safety. Cars have gotten better at what they do, which keeps the number of deaths down an amazing amount in the long-term, given the statistics. Even accounting for crazy/distracted/shouldn't be on the road drivers out there.

Which group includes everyone but me, of course. But I walk.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:09 PM on November 24, 2003


The reason the deaths, etc., are tolerated is that it's a rational choice, one in which people decide that the risks are outweighed by the benefits. It's really not too complicated.
posted by NortonDC at 8:09 PM on November 24, 2003


JohnR - We are numb to a lot of things. For example, one British researcher declared in early 2002 - based on his computer modelling - that, due to human impact, the Brazilian rainforest would start an unstoppable unravelling within 10 years. This is a problem because a great deal of the earth's oxygen production comes from the Amazon.

No one really gives it much thought though.
posted by troutfishing at 8:10 PM on November 24, 2003


Shouldn't these facts give us the resolve to explore a better solution to our transportation needs?

No, not really. On the other hand, there are other, more valid reasons to look for a better solution.
posted by sfenders at 8:21 PM on November 24, 2003


[...]and means you have to climb in through the window.

Back in Hazard County, are we?
posted by anathema at 8:24 PM on November 24, 2003


fold_and_mutilate : And you may be aware that speed limits have risen over the past few years, resulting in the inevitably higher death rates.

Or not.
posted by trharlan at 8:27 PM on November 24, 2003


Faster trains serving regions of the US(midwest, southeast, etc.) for reasonable rates with frequent arrivals and departures, please.

240mph sounds about right.
posted by dglynn at 8:48 PM on November 24, 2003


trharlan - you curmudgeon, you.
posted by troutfishing at 8:49 PM on November 24, 2003


cars : modern man :: sabertooth tigers, other predators : prehistoric man

Something has to keep the population in check.
posted by me3dia at 8:55 PM on November 24, 2003


Nader Nader Nader.
posted by dhartung at 9:01 PM on November 24, 2003


More light rails means less cars, its mostly an organizational problem and automobiles are at best stop-gap fixes to the problem of transportation. Many automobile companies and even federal agencies have been talking about how to implement driverless cars recently. A bunch of driverless cars are really just an train of sorts.

In a lot of ways its still the wild west in America, I just drove on the expressway for the first time in a month or so for almost two hours and suddenly remembed why I hate the suburbs and don't mind cramped trains. Careless lane swervers - check. Black ice - check. Passing on the right - check. Manic lane changers - check. Tailgaters- check. Turning without checking blindspot - check. Obligatory accident stopping all traffic for ten minutes - check. etc..

A couple things do bother me about the industry, the US has been slow to advance technologically compared to Europe on traction control features. One intelligent traction control system (name escapes me right now) watches and controls all four wheels in real-time and acts accordingly, which is like giving anti-lock breaks an IQ of 200.

The SUV trend is just dangerous. I can't see past these things, thus decreasing visibility and the safety of everyone on the road.

Regardless, eventually population glut will force highly populated areas to adopt and expand their rail systems more as you can only build so many more streets to fight traffic.

~40k highway deaths annualy isn't bad considering, but I'm more interested in the figures pointing to permanent disfigurement and other nasties you have to live with.

In the meantime I wear my seatbelt, drive smart, and try not to self-darwinize when driving. Mostly, I'm walking or riding the train so its not a big deal for a city-dweller like me.
posted by skallas at 9:11 PM on November 24, 2003


I'd like the opportunity to buy a safe car, like the ones in nascar. Those guys wreck at 200mph, flip 15 times, catch fire, and often walk away unscathed.


Of course it's much safer when everyone else on the road is a trained professional driver. I can't believe the lack of training that novice drivers receive in this country. It's almost as if you have to try to fail a driving test.
posted by gyc at 9:21 PM on November 24, 2003


skallas - I'm not sure the solution will be so rational.

dhartung - Nader's people will one day have us all wearing talking shoes!
posted by troutfishing at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2003


Of course it's much safer when everyone else on the road is a trained professional driver
That they are all travelling in the same direction and expecting someone to try and punt them off the road at any time helps also.
posted by dg at 9:30 PM on November 24, 2003


Why Are We Silly Humans Always Fucking Around With The Natural Order Of Things.

Sheesh...

You Ever Hear Of Thinning Of The Heard...

Now If We Can Only Get More Cars In India & China There Might Be Enough Food & Porn For All Of Us Here On Earth.

-Morbid, Humorless Maybe?

But Still The Truth

xoxo

DEATH
posted by Dreamghost at 9:48 PM on November 24, 2003


The best thing my parents did for me when I was learning to drive was to send me to driving school. No, not some blood on the highway thing, but a serious driving school. I learned how my car handles in the dry and in the wet. I learned what it feels like when it's about to spin out of control, and how to minimize the chances of that happening.

I learned car control, not just gas, brake, steering wheel. I'm certain that course kept me from having accidents, though I must admit that a sixteen year old boy who knows how to execute a j turn is a dangerous thing, indeed.
posted by mosch at 10:03 PM on November 24, 2003


No automatic system can take the place of a competent, alert driver.

It doesn't need to be better than Fangio. If it's only better than 60% of drivers, it will save lives and be a good thing. If it's better than 90%, which probably won't be that hard in the next 25 years, we're much better off.

The greatest failure of automatic systems is that they can only react to what has already happened, they cannot anticipate potentially dangerous situations and react before they happen.

One can only anticipate based upon data that are already available. By definition, anticipating is reacting to what has already happened.

I didn't mean silly things that would just turn left if an object appeared in the road like photocell robots from 1982. I meant (semi-)autonomous AI-laden cars with full-time 360-degree situational awareness. You don't need them to drive allatime, even if that would be nice on trips, but just to take over in dangerous situations.

On the other hand, something as simple as a car that would refuse to tailgate would be a boon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:27 PM on November 24, 2003


WolfDaddy ............ Projections suggest that by 2020, road-related fatalities could rank third — killing more people than malaria, tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS .........from ninth in 2000------first link
posted by JohnR at 10:29 PM on November 24, 2003


So how would you feel about the 2010 "Driver insurance cost reduction act" which required all automibile drivers to wear helmets and 5 point restraint seat belts?

On public roads? I got no problem with that. Not any different from an owner of a track or private road requiring it, except that since public roads are paid for outta taxes we get to vote on it directly or indirectly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:30 PM on November 24, 2003


how ironic. i hit a patch of black ice tonight on I96 and narrowly avoided being run down by a semitruck. after the near miss my tracker spun 360 and hit the retaining wall head on, bounced backwards across both lanes and crashed into the other wall. i'm in far better shape than my tracker, and counting my blessings.
posted by quonsar at 10:33 PM on November 24, 2003


... not to mention the deleterious effects (societal and environmental) by designing/building our nation, cities, buildings and neighbourhoods around the automobile rather than designing for/around something more sensible/natural ... like ... say ..... people.
posted by 11235813 at 10:44 PM on November 24, 2003


how ironic. i hit a patch of black ice tonight on I96 and narrowly avoided being run down by a semitruck. after the near miss my tracker spun 360 and hit the retaining wall head on, bounced backwards across both lanes and crashed into the other wall. i'm in far better shape than my tracker, and counting my blessings.

Glad to hear it. I hope you'll come out of this whole situation the same irasible rapscallion, though ;)
posted by The God Complex at 11:03 PM on November 24, 2003


Irascible, rather. My shock at your close call has obviously affected my mental acumen.
posted by The God Complex at 11:04 PM on November 24, 2003


"
cars : modern man :: sabertooth tigers, other predators : prehistoric man

Something has to keep the population in check.
"

i'd rather have ethical population management than violent death.
posted by luckyclone at 11:13 PM on November 24, 2003


By definition, anticipating is reacting to what has already happened
Anticipating: To deal with beforehand; act so as to mitigate, nullify, or prevent.

I agree that automatic systems such as ABS and traction control can help in managing potentially dangerous situations and that they do not need to be 100% effective to do this and that systems which prevent tailgating etc would help protect us from ourselves. However, unless systems can be developed that can analyse and react to the huge volume of data that our brain deals with every second in just stopping us from tripping over our own feet, a human that has the knowledge and skills to see something happening on the road 200 metres ahead and anticipate the need to slow down to avoid becoming part of it will still be safer. No matter how smart any automatic system is, it will still rely on the driver being competent enough to avoid trouble in the first place.

My point all along has been that we do not require that drivers develop these skills before letting them loose in a vehicle capable of 200 km/h plus. If we consider that the accident statistics are bad enough that a solution is needed, the most effective (and probably least popular) is to make sure the driver of any vehicle on the road is capable of driving not just at 40 km/h around the suburbs, but at highway speeds in adverse conditions and under emergency situations. Yes, a lot of drivers would not be able to pass the driving test, but that is kind of the point of the exercise - not to let anyone over 17 drive, but to test the competency of the driver. Until such time as driverless cars arrive, the weak link will always be the nut behind the wheel, but we can strengthen that link if we choose to.

Sorry to hear of your misadventure quonsar, hope you are OK.
posted by dg at 11:31 PM on November 24, 2003


MagLev.
posted by bwg at 12:03 AM on November 25, 2003


Bicycle: Nope, I want my AC, stereo and house out in the country (ie, 50 miles from my job and a 40 minute drive; 35 minutes if I kept up with the flow).

Light rail: ... and ride with all those stinky blue collar workers? No way.

Car: You betcha!

Case closed.
posted by mischief at 12:31 AM on November 25, 2003


Cars don't kill people, people kill people.

I would be for a national ban on using cell phones while driving, tax credits for people that commute on motorcycles and bikes, and free driver training classes. Also, I think that the driving age should be raised to 18 and seniors shoud have to take exams every couple of years to maintain their licences.

I don't want to have to wear a helmet, although I might make my kids wear them if I ever have any.
posted by password at 12:45 AM on November 25, 2003


for a commute up to 15-20 miles a bicycle is a great alternative to a car for most of the year. [...] biking is all positive except for the nagging fear that a bad driver is going to rub you out someday. I hate that.

Too true. Add more cycle lanes to my wishlist.
posted by zygoticmynci at 2:53 AM on November 25, 2003


Brits who use handheld mobile phones whilst driving - don't forget you only have 6 more days to enjoy making the road a hazardous place for the rest of us. I'm going to relish seeing you selfish, thoughtless bastards getting those on the spot fines as I cruise (OK, wheeze) by on my 5-speed pedalled dream machine. ;-)
posted by squealy at 4:01 AM on November 25, 2003


I am always amazed at how casually we treat the training for and use of personal vehicles. In the wood shop, one is talked to constantly about safety and what to do, what not to do... it is a constant issue. Yet, the only thing one might do in a woodshop is loose a finger -- your finger -- not someone else's finger. Yet we go tooling about one of our more dangerous tools as if they are living rooms on wheels. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed driving and will continue to do so -- we just need to seriously rethink the layout of our lifestyles to reduce our dependency on it.
posted by Dick Paris at 4:31 AM on November 25, 2003


zygoticmynci:

as a one-time recipient of a "door prize", i could not agree with you more.
posted by titboy at 5:14 AM on November 25, 2003


Well, as a guy who went to a funeral yesterday for someone killed in a car accident (blind intersection, 16 year old driver, mini-van, semi, 24 year old killed on impact), I'd have to agree with the sentiment.

However, I really don't think anything will ever happen in the USA that will change our driving habits.
posted by Yossarian at 5:22 AM on November 25, 2003


However, I really don't think anything will ever happen in the USA that will change our driving habits.

Perhaps not from above - but we have some recourse. As a couple folks have noted here, send your children to a performance/defensive driving school. Take the course with them, it's a bonding experience and you'll learn something too. It's worth far more than the several hundred dollar tuition. Assuming we're still using some sort of motorized 4-wheeled propulsion when my future kids are ready to drive, they're going here as soon as they're ready.
posted by jalexei at 6:08 AM on November 25, 2003


a human that has the knowledge and skills to see something happening on the road 200 metres ahead and anticipate the need to slow down to avoid becoming part of it will still be safer.

This is my peeve with SUVs. It's like driving behind a wall. You can't see past them and have no idea what is happening on the road in front of you.
posted by archimago at 6:09 AM on November 25, 2003


Quonsar is alive.....Quonsar is alive!

Quonsar - Was your tracker a two wheel rear drive model? I'm assuming you're getting a new car - Front wheel drive vehicles tend to do much better on ice, although heavy FWD cars tend to eat differentials. But that's worth it, in my opinion.

ROU_Xenophobe - So, shall we co-sponsor the "Mandatory helmet and five point restraint Quonsar protection and insurance reduction act?"
posted by troutfishing at 6:11 AM on November 25, 2003


And, once we pass that legislation, we can move on to the
Pesonal hygiene responsibility health care act
which will give substantial health care insurance discounts to individuals who keep their weight down and exercise every day. The act will be enforced by means of chips embedded in shoes of all descriptions. You'll need to wear the special shoes to get the discount, and they will - of course - be programmed to nag and criticize in the event of non-compliance.
posted by troutfishing at 6:18 AM on November 25, 2003


Second the motion on raising the driving age. At the same time, the drinking age should be lowered. This is the setup in various European countries, and it works. A big part of our teen driving problem here in the US is that kids learn to drive before they learn to drink, and it should be the other way around. Let them drink at 16 (as do Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain and Austria -- most of these have a driving age of 18); encourage parents to teach kids about drinking at home, by allowing them to have a drink at dinner, etc., instead of pushing them toward furtive binge drinking. Once they know what drinking is all about, they will drive a whole lot more responsibly, or not at all, when alcohol is in the picture. (It'll never happen, but it's the answer.)
posted by beagle at 7:06 AM on November 25, 2003


beagle - sounds good to me.
posted by troutfishing at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2003


very glad to see you're safe, quonsar. not a fun experience, i'll bet.

it's amazing how easy it happens. every hour. every day. i lost a friend to a coma about a month ago (we're still waiting for her to come out of it, but there are some signs of hope) after she got rammed going thru an intersection.

slow down, people. please.

btw, the "thinning the herd" argument seems quite lame to me. the emotional (and financial) costs of these accidents far outweigh the relatively minor decrease in global population. it would be more effective to successfully promote responsible birth control.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2003


Because it can't happen here... oh darling it's important that you believe me (wah, wah, wah)... that it can't happen here. Cause I been checking it out, I checked it out a couple of times....
posted by Pressed Rat at 12:26 PM on November 25, 2003


Very glad to hear you're OK, quonsar.
posted by anathema at 1:36 PM on November 25, 2003


« Older More children now than ever are being born from ce...  |  Cow-Girl Morph Tutorial:... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments