[OT] Hit and Run

Von Fugal fuglv at cs.byu.edu
Wed Aug 22 23:46:20 MDT 2007

* Shane Hathaway [Wed, 22 Aug 2007 at 16:21 -0600]
> In my view, the problem isn't usually incompetence, it's just a mismatch
> of driving styles.  Different regions of the US seem to have different
> styles.  If you know your region well enough, you can tell what other
> drivers are going to do by subtle hints that constitute a form of body
> language, and you can make corresponding safe choices.  If you drive in
> a region where drivers give different hints, you're not going to see the
> hints and you'll get frustrated.
> I noticed this especially in DC, since DC has the combined traffic of
> several states.  Maryland drivers behaved a little differently from
> Virginia drivers, and when they came together, mayhem ensued.
> New York City is an especially interesting place to drive.  There are so
> many taxis that the taxis define the driving style.  When I drove there,
> I mimicked the taxis and discovered I could have an easy time in the
> middle of apparent chaos.
> A lot of people need something to do while driving.  One of my favorite
> things to do is predict what the cars around me are going to do.  It's a
> kind of game.  That way I learn people's styles, potentially avoiding
> crashes, and I identify overconfident and underconfident drivers so I
> can steer clear of them.
> Shane

This is soo true. I also love playing that game, except it's not really
a game, it's called driving. IOW engaging your mind in the task of not
just steering your vehicle, but also making decisions on how to steer it
based on conditions around you, and those conditions include other
vehicles, what they are doing, their state of mind. Now I will make a
confession. I am an extremely aggressive driver. But I am very mindful
to be so in as safe a manner as possible. I put a great amount of
concentration into whatever it is I'm about to do, possible outcomes if
the cars around me do what I predict they will, or outcomes if the cars
do unimaginably stupid things. If I am talking on a phone (which I _do_
do occasionally, but try not to make a habit of) then I immediately tone
down my driving, stay 3 car lengths behind, focus more mind power on
'having an out' (anyone who doesn't know what this is needs to go back
to driving school, IMO) and less on getting around that annoying car.
Sometimes I convince myself that aggressive driving is actually safer,
because you're more engaged in driving or something. But then I'm not
always convinced and I honestly don't know if I'm full of it at those
times or what.
Anyway, what was my point? Oh yeah, body language, or should I say
chassis language? I think it's a game everyone should play, and get good
at. Just today I predicted a truck with a trailer was going to take the
north exit off the 215 going east just behind me as I veered off the south
exit, and I turned out to be right. I can often tell when cars are going
to turn right and so I decide to stay behind them because my lane will
open up, even when they don't use a blinker (which no one does, at least
not early enough (if I can tell they're turning before they turn on that
blinker, then they've turned it on too late)). Anyway, I think there are
certain regional cues, but there are also some universal cues. The
degree to which recognizing said cues will help you not crash is
proportional to the risk level of your situation. If you're distracted
you're less able to pay attention to those cues, but if at the same time
you considerably lower your risk level, then you're chance of accident
actually balances out. Therefore, I believe the study that concludes
there is no connection with cell phone usage and accidents. I'm annoyed
with car/phone users for an entirely different reason. They revert into
those pokey defensive drivers that only get in my way ;). Every once in
a while one will do something incredibly stupid and almost cause an
accident or at least make me take evasive manouvers. But those are no
more likely than the same happening when the culprit is eating, or
changing stations, or whatever other distraction have you. Just because
a cell phone may now be the most common distraction in this age doesn't
mean it's the worst or most dangerous distraction, or that people
wouldn't find other distractions if they couldn't use the cell phone.
Texting, on the other hand, is an abhorrence, whether or not driving,
though especially so while driving. (OK, texting wouldn't be such an
abhorrence on it's own if it didn't generate way more revenue for the
big boys than it ever had merit to). I would fully support a law banning
texting. Although a law banning distracted driving in general I agree
would actually be better, as the officer would probably be far more
prone to cite someone for texting (I would hope) whilst leaving the door
open for him to cite for changing pants or giving the baby in the back
seat a bottle while changing lanes or what have you. My rant has become
way to long I think, so over and out.

Von Fugal
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