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Old 01-11-06, 02:44 PM   #1
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Bad drivers - a serious threat?

Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?

Whether I'm walking, driving my car, or riding my bike, I do so defensively. I feel my behavior provides reasonable protection from mistakes of bad drivers. Sure, I'm still vulnerable to the most blatant and wild errors -- a drunk driver driving up onto the sidewalk, or coming across the road into my oncoming lane -- but the likelihood of my encountering such bad driving is so slim, the only reasonable assumption is to assume it won't happen.

So red light runners, speeders, lane drifters, stop rollers, reckless drivers, etc., I say, yawn.
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Old 01-11-06, 02:54 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
So red light runners, speeders, lane drifters, stop rollers, reckless drivers, etc., I say, yawn.
What concerns me agressive drivers, pushing the limits of their perception and reaction times and the capabilities of their vehicles.

For example those who think they can squeeze into a 1.5 car length gap in the adjancent lane next to you and don't slow down as they approach. There is nothing a cyclist can do to control this behavior. The only thing a cyclist can do is swerve hard to the right as it seems a motorist is not merging left in time.

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Old 01-11-06, 02:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
but the likelihood of my encountering such bad driving is so slim, the only reasonable assumption is to assume it won't happen.
not so here, unfortunately. but most of the things drivers do everyday isn't something to be too concerned about. if everyone is speeding or running red lights all the time, you just adjust accordingly.

it's the truly unpredictable actions that do present a real problem. i'd say on nearly every single ride i do in the city - someone pulls out across all lanes and does a 360 with little or no warning. Thatís the stuff I worry about, and if Iím quick enough to move around it unharmed.
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Old 01-11-06, 03:02 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?

Whether I'm walking, driving my car, or riding my bike, I do so defensively. ...

Yes, bad drivers are a serious threat. And, yes, it is worth worrying about.

I realize this is semantics, but anyone who drives/rides defensively is taking the threat of bad drivers seriously.

..QED?
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Old 01-11-06, 03:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by angelo
Yes, bad drivers are a serious threat. And, yes, it is worth worrying about.

I realize this is semantics, but anyone who drives/rides defensively is taking the threat of bad drivers seriously.
+1
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Old 01-11-06, 04:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?

Whether I'm walking, driving my car, or riding my bike, I do so defensively. I feel my behavior provides reasonable protection from mistakes of bad drivers. Sure, I'm still vulnerable to the most blatant and wild errors -- a drunk driver driving up onto the sidewalk, or coming across the road into my oncoming lane -- but the likelihood of my encountering such bad driving is so slim, the only reasonable assumption is to assume it won't happen.

So red light runners, speeders, lane drifters, stop rollers, reckless drivers, etc., I say, yawn.

Roughly 42,000 people a year would not agree with your assesment... they can't they are dead due to auto accidents. Sure only about 700 cyclists die each year... so we are just a "drop in the bucket."

BTW, if you really believe that the chances of you ever getting in an accident are so slim, you should probably "self insure" and save your annual cost of premiums.
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Old 01-11-06, 04:29 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?
You're kidding right? What planet are you on?

They are such a serious threat that in my small city:
- people don't let their kids ride or walk to school (bad drivers aren't the only reason)
- people won't ride bikes themselves on roads, confining themselves to bike trails
- people place signs they've bought or made themselves in the streets to try to warn of children playing or to tell drivers slow down
- the government has had to place signs in the road to remind people to give pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks (above and beyond the typical signage)
- people form committees to get the city to create and install traffic calming devices on their streets
- other people get angry and write letters to the editor almost weekly about said traffic calming devices slowing them down
- people have been killed by road raged drivers
- people have been killed by drunk drivers (who have also hit and run)
- people are killed frequently in auto accidents caused by driver error on mountain highways

Should I keep going?
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Old 01-11-06, 04:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?

...

So red light runners, speeders, lane drifters, stop rollers, reckless drivers, etc., I say, yawn.
You have just contradicted everything you have ever said about VC and cycling.
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Old 01-11-06, 05:33 PM   #9
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You have just contradicted everything you have ever said about VC and cycling.
Not really... he is just saying that he has such super defensive skills that the idiots out there don't bother him...

Meanwhile the rest of the human race are just... human... and 42,000 of them perish each year because of some form of driving accident.

In the meantime I'll slip a bit of kryptonite near Serge the next time I see him.
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Old 01-11-06, 06:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by angelo
Yes, bad drivers are a serious threat. And, yes, it is worth worrying about.

I realize this is semantics, but anyone who drives/rides defensively is taking the threat of bad drivers seriously.

..QED?
+10

Helmet, have you lost your cotton pickin' mind?
Been nice knowing you, man.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:13 PM   #11
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Another thing to consider is that the problem is not confined to "bad" drivers. All drivers make mistakes as do all cyclists. Some make more mistakes than others and some environments encourage more mistakes than others.

Technique is certainly important, but the cyclist must always pay 100% attention to everything going on around him/her. In other words, the cyclist must always "be worried" about traffic.


I like to think of this stuff in terms of risk assessment. The "risk" of any endevor can be thought of as the product of the severity of a bad outcome and its probability...

risk = severity x probability

Assuming that a cyclist does nothing more than to "behave like a vehicle", his probability of a getting into an accident is roughly the same (conservatively) as the probability of a car getting into an accident-- per mile of travel. Unfortunately, for the cyclist, the severity of any traffic accident is going to be much higher because the cyclist does not have the protection of bumpers, crumple zones, and 2000 pounds of metal. The bottom line is that the cyclist takes on a greater risk per mile of travel than a car does.

What this means is that a cyclist has to pay MUCH MUCH MORE attention to traffic and environment than a car driver does. By doing that, the cyclist reduces the probability of an accident and thus lowers the risk of a bad outcome to something tolerable.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:21 PM   #12
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Like I always say, expect the other guy to do the dumbest thing possible, plan for Murphy.

I agree with Noisebeam about aggressive drivers and would add the dimwitted drivers who just plain ain't paying attention.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:35 PM   #13
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Like I always say, expect the other guy to do the dumbest thing possible, plan for Murphy.

I agree with Noisebeam about aggressive drivers and would add the dimwitted drivers who just plain ain't paying attention.
But regarding those "who just ain't paying attention... " could distractions in the vehicle be part of that issue?

Of course passengers have long been a distraction, as well as the radio and possibly food, but now add: Cell phones, GPS systems, video entertainment systems, and now game systems, not to mention that the interior of auto has been quieted, further seperating the driver from their environment...

Add to that a more crowded environment, and higher speeds...

Yeah, Murphy is the number one problem... but no point in giving him assistance either.
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Old 01-11-06, 07:52 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by genec
But regarding those "who just ain't paying attention... " could distractions in the vehicle be part of that issue?

Of course passengers have long been a distraction, as well as the radio and possibly food, but now add: Cell phones, GPS systems, video entertainment systems, and now game systems, not to mention that the interior of auto has been quieted, further seperating the driver from their environment...

Add to that a more crowded environment, and higher speeds...

Yeah, Murphy is the number one problem... but no point in giving him assistance either.
It's all Murphy - "What can go wrong, will go wrong"
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Old 01-11-06, 08:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo
Yes, bad drivers are a serious threat. And, yes, it is worth worrying about.

I realize this is semantics, but anyone who drives/rides defensively is taking the threat of bad drivers seriously.

..QED?
Very good. You got me.

I didn't make my point very clear in the OP. I think Gene knows what I meant, though he made fun of it.

Yes, of course, bad drivers are a serious threat and should be taken seriously. That's why we must operate defensively in the first place.

But my point is that given that you are operating defensively, the bad drivers are no longer a serious threat.

Example: Is cholera a serious threat worth worrying about? In the broad sense, yes, of course. But, realistically speaking, when was the last you did anything about or worried about cholera? So in the real/practical sense, no. Why? Because we have sewer systems and treated drinking water. We have this protection so we don't have to worry about the serious threat, and, in practice, it ceases to be a serious threat.

To me, bad drivers are the cholera of traffic. Operating non-defensively in traffic is like drinking from public restroom toilet bowls. Sooner or later you're going to get nailed. But if you take the basic precaution, you have so little to worry about it's not worth worrying about at all.

So I ride vehiculary - legally, visibly, predictably and defensively - and I don't drink from toilet bowls. As a result, I don't worry about cholera, or bad drivers. You can suit yourself.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:11 PM   #16
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Don't police enforce traffic laws (at least sometimes) to increase the overall safety of the roads? They're not out there just fundraising all the time.

Since we, the people, have charged the police with this duty, a basic form of driving education is required of new drivers, and we have made enforcable laws against breaking the rules of the road, I would say that bad driving is a problem that is being addressed.

Are these efforts enough? I would say so. Most drivers are competent.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:22 PM   #17
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Ya know, it's not the bad drivers that really ever bother me... it's the drivers that think they are real good and in fact really aren't...

These are the same guys noisebeam doesn't like and even chipcom recognizes...

Meanwhile, if there can be bad drivers, then there can also be bad defensive drivers... folks that have had the training, and yet still can't seem to get it right. Hey, these are aquired skills folks... we aren't all A+ students.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:26 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Hawkear
Don't police enforce traffic laws (at least sometimes) to increase the overall safety of the roads? They're not out there just fundraising all the time.

Since we, the people, have charged the police with this duty, a basic form of driving education is required of new drivers, and we have made enforcable laws against breaking the rules of the road, I would say that bad driving is a problem that is being addressed.

Are these efforts enough? I would say so. Most drivers are competent.
I don't know about your area, but locally we have one of the nation's lowest police to population ratios... and as long as the population continues to grow, and the costs of providing police service continue to climb, it is highly unlikely that there will ever been enough effort made to really rid the roads of the "bad drivers."

You are indeed right in that at least most folks do make the effort to do it right...
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Old 01-11-06, 08:27 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
...
But my point is that given that you are operating defensively, the bad drivers are no longer a serious threat.
...

Okay, that's fine. However, operating defensively means being in an active state of "worry" or "concern" about whatever traffic situation you are in. Its not like a binary decision to "not drink from toilet bowls".

For the case of the cyclist, I would go even further and say that the cyclist must be more alert to traffic and potential problems simply because the penalty for failure is so much higher than for a car.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
As a result, I don't worry about cholera, or bad drivers. You can suit yourself.
Perhaps what you mean is you don't worry, as in fret about bad drivers. But certainly you still worry about bad driving in the abstract.

A smart cycling advocate would worry about bad driving, especially about how it gets progressively worse, and they would work toward a solution.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Hawkear
Don't police enforce traffic laws (at least sometimes) to increase the overall safety of the roads?
You're joking, right?

Short answer: No.

The cops don't do a whole heck of a lot anymore, else there wouldn't be chronic speeding problems, hit and runs, stoplight/stop sign running, or reckless driving in general. But wait, there's more! Police driving recklessly themselves, and even roadraging on cyclists. Grand theft auto and illegal parking is about the only traffic laws they enforce. And when they do enforce a traffic law, it's usually a warning or a paltry slap on the wrist.

Don't count on enforcement, cause dead seriously, it blows.
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Old 01-11-06, 08:51 PM   #22
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If you ride well you greatly decrease your chances of being harmed by a bad driver. So ride well and you don't have to worry that much. It seems pretty clear to me...
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Old 01-11-06, 09:00 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?
So you have a "direct" solution? If not I suppose we should just ignore bad drivers. I'm also in favour of looking the other way when anything else bad or wrong happens. Especially when it hurts someone!

Do you read during before or after seeing a keyboard?
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Old 01-11-06, 09:05 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angelo
Okay, that's fine. However, operating defensively means being in an active state of "worry" or "concern" about whatever traffic situation you are in. Its not like a binary decision to "not drink from toilet bowls".

For the case of the cyclist, I would go even further and say that the cyclist must be more alert to traffic and potential problems simply because the penalty for failure is so much higher than for a car.
Angelo,

I like your posts. I agree. Your point about risk analysis and penalty for cyclists is right on. I do, however, prefer the terms "vigilant" and "alert" to "worry" and "concern". I also feel that the vigilance and alertness required to be reasonably safe as a cyclist in traffic, when you're already obeying the laws and practicing techniques to make you visible and predictable, is not extraordinary.

There is a school of thought (see David Glowacz' book, Urban Bikers Tips and Tricks) that "sly cyclists" can make reasonably safe illegal moves if done with care. But I think the more you do that, the more likely you'll get into trouble, sooner or later.
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Old 01-11-06, 09:13 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Are bad drivers really a serious threat? Is it really something worth worrying about? Is it a problem that needs solving? Directly?

So you have a "direct" solution? If not I suppose we should just ignore bad drivers. I'm also in favour of looking the other way when anything else bad or wrong happens. Especially when it hurts someone!

Do you read during before or after seeing a keyboard?
Ha ha. I'm surprised no one else asked about that.

What I meant by "directly" was taking measures to reduce the incidence of bad driving (better law enforcement, more training, smart cars, etc.) as opposed to indirect measures that do not affect the incidence of bad driving, like altering one's own behavior to be much less vulnerable to bad driving.

I think direct measures are largely ineffective and very expensive, while altering one's own behavior, to operate defensively, is highly effective and very inexpensive to learn.
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