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  1. #1
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    underplaying the dangers of autos

    a few days ago there was a very interesting program on a German TV station (yes, i watch sometimes and it also really helps my German) about Australia and the large number of creatures there poisonous or dangerous to man... the red-back spider, the snakes (i think 6 of the 7 most poisonous are in Australia), crocodiles, jellyfish, coral, sharks, etc...

    at the end of the program it talked about how many people are really affected by these dangers creatures... and that the only one that presents much of a real danger in comparision to other dangers in life was the red-back spider b/c they like to live in neighboorhoods and thrive in the vicinity of people and buildings... so they quite a few cases addressed by emergency personnel.

    the last word was: but don't worry too much about Australia's wild things b/c as a tourist to Australia, by far your #1 danger is being the victim of an automobile rather than being the victim of all of the "dangerous creatures of Australia" combined.

    why is it that we are "horrified" by plane crashes, train derailments, shark attacks and terrorist attacks, but the most common cause of non-health-related death and injury (not to mention cost) we just ignore?

    parents in the US go wild about safety for their children, moving to the right neighboorhood, doing background security checks on babysitters, never leaving their children unsupervised for fear of kidnapping, etc. and then when it comes to the actual greatest danger to their children - automobiles - the only thought is to buy a car with airbags that has good crash-test ratings... i think most parents never look at the pedestrian-safety ratings for their neighboorhood and most do little other than maybe petition for a new stoplight or put up signs "watch for kids" to really do anything to improve the safety.

    although deaths to occupants of motor vehicles have decreased in the US since the peak some time in the late 60s, primarily due to increased auto safety devices like seat belts, crumple zones, airbags, anti-lock brakes, and other safety engineering improvements from crash tests, injuries and deaths to pedestrians and cyclists are still very high. in other words: safety for those IN motor vehicles has greatly increased.

    why are we so blind to the negatives of the automobile? and so unwilling to take small steps to greatly increase public safety for motor vehicle passengers, pedestrains and cyclists?

    what steps can we do to help make our neighborhoods safer for the people that live there? more severe penalties for traffic violations that injure others? more education? more police or public servants to force drivers to act more safely? public-service advertising to alert people to the danger and help them "think" about it as they drive? lobbying for smaller streets and traffic calming? more non-auto pedestrain and bicycle zones? neighborhood watch for reporting "unsafe" drivers and printing names in local newspaper (i.e. using peer pressure/public humiliation as a deterrant)?
    why drive when you can ride?
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  2. #2
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    oops. the idea spurred out of something in Current Events, but i meant to put this in "Advocacy and Safety" but i don't know how to move the thread.

    i guess one of the admins want to move it, then please do.
    why drive when you can ride?
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  3. #3
    bac
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    Originally posted by nathank
    why are we so blind to the negatives of the automobile? and so unwilling to take small steps to greatly increase public safety for motor vehicle passengers, pedestrains and cyclists?
    Yup - I think that people just don't look @ life with much of an objective eye. Strapping yourself into an automobile is one of the most dangerous activities you will ever do. However, we tend to focus on making other activities and situations safer. Certainly, we need to concentrate more on the low hanging fruit, and make some changes that will improve the safety of driving an automobile.

    It seems that our cars are MUCH more safe than they were 20 years ago, but our drivers are not. We need to focus more on driver education, which should include limiting the myriad of distractions thrown today's driver. Unfortunately, there is a lot of money to be made regarding these distractions, and our politicians respond to cash. I just donít see our government putting pressure on anyone in an effort to improve safety on the road. The cell phone industry alone will not allow it to happen.

    It seems that cash always trumps safety. :confused:

  4. #4
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    It's a question that I frequently ask myself. It seems that society as a whole is willing to overlook the who danger of the automobile. Granted people are as intrinsically scared of everything up here in Canada, heck we even leave our doors open or unlocked.

    A couple questions to ask yourself. How many people do you know that have been injured by an automobile, either inside it or on the street? How about kidnappings? Seriously injured by an animal? plane crashes? train crashes?
    http://www.cyclistsroadmap.com/eng/ - Cyclists' road map. Checkout which roads are good for cycling and rate roads in your area.

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    To me it seems like the road system and crosswalks can't be changed for the most part. So education and awareness is the only choice we have for ourselves and children. I guess in a way doing a background check on a babysitter is kind of like the DMV testing and doing checkup on drivers to make sure they are capable of driving, though, it's debatable that they are doing a good job. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that most auto/pedestrian collisions are at intersections and for the most part they cannot be changed. The automobile is here to stay I think unless public transportation is revolutionaized somehow or we somehow centralize a lot of things so people don't need highspeed trans. to get there. I think education is the answer to most of the worlds problems myself. Knowing is half the battle right?

    Beau

  6. #6
    It's in my blood Pete Clark's Avatar
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    Enforce maximum speed limits and lower them all (except freeway limits) by 5 or 10 mph.

    I used to drive the freeway for about a 10 mile stretch. I was tempted to add 10 mph. to my speed to save time. So I figured out the time savings, but it turned out to be only about 2 minutes.
    Then my conscience nagged me: "Why don't you just drive the speed limit and leave 2 minutes sooner?"

    Duh...ok!

    Forget about saving time speeding in an urban or suburban environment with traffic signals. It won't work.

    Therefore, what excuse do we have for allowing people to drive almost any speed they want, when the benefits are zero and the consequences are more deaths?
    Next in line

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    In the US, we need a little reworking of our legal system to somehow remove auto use from Constitutional protections.
    Speed limits need to go down for sure, fines need to go up, and the meanest, craziest, most heavy-handed cops all need to be assigned to traffic beats. My fave idea--there is a large Russian community in my town and it would be good to see the county sheriff's department and state police recruiting to see if they can get any ex-KGB or former Red Army MP's in the black and whites--I'll bet the guys who used to torture political prisoners in the basement of Lubyanka Prison would take care of the repeat drunk driving problem. Da!

  8. #8
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Feldman
    In the US, we need a little reworking of our legal system to somehow remove auto use from Constitutional protections.
    Speed limits need to go down for sure, fines need to go up, and the meanest, craziest, most heavy-handed cops all need to be assigned to traffic beats. My fave idea--there is a large Russian community in my town and it would be good to see the county sheriff's department and state police recruiting to see if they can get any ex-KGB or former Red Army MP's in the black and whites--I'll bet the guys who used to torture political prisoners in the basement of Lubyanka Prison would take care of the repeat drunk driving problem. Da!
    Autos weren't invented when the Constitution was written so how is it protected? :confused:

  9. #9
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    We need traffic calming and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly roadway and intersection design or redesign.

    We need strict accountability for those who inflict death or injury whilst motoring.

    In the U.S., we need stricter standards for obtaining and retaining a driver's license.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  10. #10
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    In urban areas, the traffic is just too frustrating.. I watch and observe. Motorists are nuts... I was driving down the wine road in Temecula coming home from work.. This morning, I was driving the limit- 55 mph... Some nut behind me passed the car behind me and myself, on a curve with a double yellow. As he passed, he honked and gave me the third finger. I have no idea why..
    I guess it is just the punks who missed out on boot camp type boarding schools..
    No, I respect motorists. They scare the hell out of me.. It is a miracle you do not see some totally assasine action each day by the motoring public... Seems I see about two bad accidents weekly while commuting by car to work.. About 1-2 times a month, I suspect backed up traffic from bad accidents makes me late getting to work..

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    I'll tell you why I speed. I see so many drivers not following the rules, making stupid decissions, going 35 in the 45 while in the fast lane as well, not allowing right of way when they should, swerving to a lane, not looking when they switch lanes and numerous other moronic things. For those reasons I go as fast as I can so as to avoid dealing with frustrating sometimes dangerous maneuvers. It's more often that it ever should be that I am saying out loud, "WHY did you do that?", or just shaking my head in disbelief at the stupid thing I just saw on the road. How about this one, 3 lane highway, speed limit is 45, and there are 3 drivers abreast doing 40-45 and backing up traffic for quite a ways. It is accepted that everybody speeds on the main roads around here and when people do stuff like that it clogs up the roadway. So for me at least, having to deal with drivers that shouldn't have passed their exam in the first place drives me nuts and I speed so I don't have to deal with them. I'm 23, in college, a pizza driver for 1.5 years, and never had an accident.

    Cars are way too big of a part of American life to get rid of or reduce. The number of drivers far outweighs the number of bicycle commuters so getting cars around efficiently is more important than making intersections safer. I've crossed roads at intersections more times than I can remember and never had an incident. My parents taught me how to do this safely.

    You can talk about it and come up with a myriad of ideas on how to improve our existing road system. Bottom line is it costs too much money to change things and it seems to work well enough anyway. Most automobile related accidents are car vs. car, not car vs. pedestrian. I also bet there are more motorcycle incidents than bicycle, should we ban motorcycles or make a special road system for them? Convince the majority of the US to ride bikes instead of drive cars and maybe you can get some reform.

    The drivers can barely avoid another 3,000lb car sometimes. Claim that they "didn't see the motorcyclist", and you want them to be more aware of you when they have other cars and motorcycles moving at up to 55mph 2 feet away from them. It's not going to happen, every cyclist for themselves.

    Like Dennis Leary said, "If you want to ride a f'ing bike, move to China. Be my f'ing guest. Eat rice for the rest of your life for cryin out loud."
    Last edited by Beau; 11-20-02 at 08:04 PM.

  12. #12
    Are we having fun yet? Prosody's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cyclezealot
    I was driving down the wine road in Temecula coming home from work..
    Is it possible to consider any highway known as the "wine road" safe?
    You're east of East St. Louis
    And the wind is making speeches.

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    Admittedly, I haven't read the whole thread, it got boring. The first reason that I can think of that uncommon dangers (shark attacks etc...) get more attention is because of the publicity they receive. We hear more about these "shock value" incidents because they grab our attention more than things that happen in our everyday lives. The mere fact that these remain outside of our everyday existence demands that we over-emphasize the relevance of these dangers...particularly when we go to the beach. Ratings...we don't pay attention to the dangers when doing something something as mundane as driving to the grocery store. A question that I always like to ask (because I hate statistics and think they can be manipulated to say whatever the person calculating wants them to) is what is the point? What are they trying to convey? Are they quoting without understanding? Did they do the analysis themselves? What was the sample size? Was the sample representative of the actual population? I may have gotten off the point but the main reason that these remote dangers are prevalent in our minds is sensationalism. The common man does not recognize the world for what it is...his world is defined more by the television than by what he sees when he looks out his front door.

    rant? maybe...I have had a few beers.

  14. #14
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Beau
    ..... I'm 23, in college, a pizza driver for 1.5 years, and never had an accident. Explains a LOT

    Cars are way too big of a part of American life to get rid of or reduce. The number of drivers far outweighs the number of bicycle commuters Sadly Yes
    Bottom line is it costs too much money to change things Age old question $$$ or life? and it seems to work well enough anyway. Bullshizzit I know all about Mousetown traffic. (damn tourists) Convince the majority of the US to ride bikes instead of drive cars and maybe you can get some reform. We're trying.

    The drivers can barely avoid another 3,000lb car sometimes. Claim that they "didn't see the motorcyclist", and you want them to be more aware of you when they have other cars and motorcycles moving at up to 55mph 2 feet away from them. It's not going to happen, every cyclist for themselves. Newsflash!!! Something all the commuters know!

    Like Dennis Leary said, "If you want to ride a f'ing bike, move to China. Be my f'ing guest. Eat rice for the rest of your life for cryin out loud." With that perspective why bother being on a bike forum? Or are you just here for help with your "toy
    Here once again I make the mistake of thinking that this is the ADVOCACY AND SAFETY section here what the heck was I thinking.
    Last edited by Raiyn; 11-20-02 at 11:18 PM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    I for one usually travel near the speed limit. On freeways, I am usually in the first or second lane, hopefully a little further away from the idiotic lane changers..
    Seeing the clogged up highways on the way to work, I get to work must less frustrated when I bike.. But, my false hope when I commute by bike: That solid white line seperates my bike lane from the crazzies, to my left- in their high powered machines, that during rush hour do not move.. I like to think my bike lane is not a part of their world, at least between intersections..
    I do not think we will reduce the number of automobiles, as good as that would be for our environment.. I just want the solititude of my bike lane respected..

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    I just don't think you can place all of the blame on drivers. Most places there is a sidewalk or a bikelane, use it. If you ride on the street, which is intended for cars, you place yourself at risk. So between intersections there should be no problems. At intersections it has been no big deal in the past 100 years that we've had cars and bikes on the same streets. You know how to handle an intersection, look both ways, listen, and then go if no cars are coming. What can possibly be done to improve this? Do you want to build ramps over the intersections for bikes and pedestrians? Obviously that is not financially feasable(sp?). Other than that I don't see what the issue is. It's always somebody's fault and you take responsibility for your actions. We have vehicular manslaughter laws and prosecution will always happen if there is a car vs. bicyclist incident. What more do you want? America has always had a 'love affair with the car'. The car rules the roads, you can't deny that, and probably can't change it until we run out of fuels for cars. Here is advocacy and safety for you, stop, look, and listen.

    I live on the east side of Orlando, nothing but college students and hicks over here. The only tourists over here are the ones checking out the college. If you consider clicking off pictures of the ellusive bum on the corner of rt. 50 and Alafaya a vacation then more power to you. Mickey territory and all of the tourist destinations lie about about 30-45 minutes west.

    Cars are my number one hobby, particularly Mustangs with lots of horsepower and dirty exhaust gases. I don't really consider a bike a toy, nor a way of life. It is simply a means for transportation, exercise, fun, exploration, and excitement. I consider it a precision instrument with a purpose, otherwise I wouldn't have spent so much money. A Huffy is a toy.

    As for Orlando, the road system is what it is for the most part. Anything would be better to look at than what is in existance so when this city expands more, I'm all for changing the setup for smaller more residential streets with shade trees everywhere and a nice wide sidewalk for cyclists as long as it doesn't add too much time to driving to work. And please, no more of these one way in, one way out subdivisions! Everything around here is designed in a stem and leaf lay out. Unless you go to a main road there is no other way to go anywhere around here. So you have everybody going to these central roads which are obviously very busy and congested.
    Last edited by Beau; 11-21-02 at 12:00 AM.

  17. #17
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    It's perfectly legal to ride a bike on the street in Florida. Look it up. Ypu have no idea the can of worms you've opened up with that one comment staing to the effect that cyclists don't belong on the road. Just do a quick search on sidewalks on this site any you'll understand.

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    The topic of the thread is underplaying the dangers of autos so back on subject. Yes it's dangerous, everybody knows this. It's a necesary part of life the way we have designed the roadways in America so you accept it and go on with your day.

    Doing background checks, and all of those other things to protect your children are nothing more than preventative measures. Driving a car is a risk, put on a seatbelt and be a good driver. Those are the only preventative measures you can take, the rest is a gamble. Riding a bike around this part of Orlando is an even bigger gamble. Again, all you can do is take preventative measures and accept the danger you are putting yourself in.

    I don't see what there is to argue about. The road system is what it is, very little can be changed at this point. So whatelse is there to say? Be alert, stop, look, and listen.

    EDIT: I didn't say they were illegal. Whether it's a smart gamble or not is the question. Around here if you ride on the main streets you must have a deathwish. Lots of drivers are in their own world while driving and there is no way I'm taking the chance of riding on any main road around here when there is a perfectly good sidewalk somewhere along the road.
    Last edited by Beau; 11-21-02 at 12:17 AM.

  19. #19
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    originally posted by BeauMost places there is a sidewalk or a bikelane, use it. If you ride on the street, which is intended for cars, you place yourself at risk.
    Beau, hey, i understand that you learn by example (i grew up in Texas) but this is a) WRONG and b) SAD

    roads with the exception of the Interstate (which was designed and build for the military, not private cars) are for bikes as much as for cars --- yes, there has been a trend in the US post 1950s for ridiculous traffic designs matching high-speed auto speeds... but it is still legal (i think in every US state) to ride a bicycle on public roads --- and riding on the sidewalk is usually a) illegal and b) more dangerous (see other threads for some info)
    why drive when you can ride?
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  20. #20
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    Beau, i grew up in Texas reading Road and Track and worked 40hrs/week for 2 summers to buy my first car at 16 and i lived the car-dominated life, "street racing" in high school. i also delivered pizzas for many odd years (in HS and college) and, especially out of the city almost always drove very fast -- usually over 100mph (when the speed limit was still 55 or 60mph) --- slowly over the last 10 years i became a bike commuter and have been car-free the last 1 1/2 years - although i still drive some ---- i now realize that although driving can be a lot of fun as well as very convenient, normal driving practices in the US are wacko ---- you may not have had an accident but i bet you know someone who has been severely injured or killed in a car, yes? the small extra conveniences of driving a little faster and paying a little less attention (b/c on cell phone, thinking about work/shcool, depressed, etc) just are not worth the major risks involved!

    originally posted by BeauThe road system is what it is, very little can be changed at this point
    wrong. laws change, new roads are built and intersectioned redesigned every year. there is a lot that can be done -- some of it costs money and some of it does not -- the biggest change is in attitude. cities and most public space except for interstate highways should be first for people and then later down the line for cars. currently cars come first almost everywhere!

    originally posted by BeauYes it's dangerous, everybody knows this. It's a necesary part of life the way we have designed the roadways in America so you accept it and go on with your day.
    sadly this may be true in many places in the US - although i have been to most places in the US i have not been to Florida (it's flat and i like mountains and urban areas) although my sister lived in Daytona Beach for 3 years so i have some info... but from statistics and comments from others, Florida seems to be one of the most dangerous places for cycling in the US - worse than Texas!

    originally posted by BeauAnd please, no more of these one way in, one way out subdivisions! Everything around here is designed in a stem and leaf lay out. Unless you go to a main road there is no other way to go anywhere around here. So you have everybody going to these central roads which are obviously very busy and congested.
    i agree, so how do you say there is nothing to be done or changed?

    originally posted by JohnEWe need traffic calming and pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly roadway and intersection design or redesign.

    We need strict accountability for those who inflict death or injury whilst motoring.

    In the U.S., we need stricter standards for obtaining and retaining a driver's license.
    John's comments are right-on -- i would add some:
    * motorist training and education (almost the same as John's about driver licensing)
    * legal changes so that "driving isn't a right" but the priveledge that it really is
    * concept of "accident" is changed from an accepted thing that "just happens" to something that should be preventable and thus people are responsible for their actions when they hurt or kill someone --- there are very few "accidents" involving motor vehicles (and most of these involve animals). the #1 cause of almost all collisions is driver error -- not mechanical failure or an animal or whatever. the accepted risk is TOO HIGH
    * since there are some people that never should drive (cannot safely) or no longer can (old people with bad eyesight, slow reations or medical problems like a heart condition or altheimers) a car should not be a requirement for a "normal life" and since the road network is funded with public money it should also somehow serve those that do not drive... by at least creating a safe environment in which to walk or cycle.

    Beau, i'm sure that you are a very skilled driver, and on a controlled course or somewhere safe driving fast is pretty fun and cool (i used to race motorcycles, now i race mountain bikes), but driving as if you were on a racecourse in daily life just doesn't make sense. i ask you to think just about it.
    why drive when you can ride?
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Nobby's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Beau
    I'll tell you why I speed. I see so many drivers not following the rules, making stupid decissions, going 35 in the 45 while in the fast lane as well, not allowing right of way when they should, swerving to a lane, not looking when they switch lanes and numerous other moronic things. For those reasons I go as fast as I can so as to avoid dealing with frustrating sometimes dangerous maneuvers.
    As a speeder, you make the problem worse. No question. Your driving record to date is of no consequence.

    Speeding is THE single most common factor in MVA's. Speeding doesn't aid in lowering your stress by getting you through it all faster ("avoid dealing with frustrating sometimes dangerous maneuvers"). Additionally, it makes you more of a hazard to other drivers.

    Almost everyone considers themselves to be above-average drivers. Of course that is impossible. Most are just lucky, many are not.
    Bill (Nobby) Clark
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  22. #22
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    Senior Member bac's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Beau
    I don't see what there is to argue about. The road system is what it is, very little can be changed at this point. So whatelse is there to say?
    "Driver education and prosecution", he said.

    I mean, you really should have to do more than show the ability to parallel park - ONCE - in order to obtain a license to drive a potentially deadly machine.

    Practical as well as theoretical driver education should be mandatory. Also, retesting should be mandatory - especially in the later years of one's life.

    Considering that fact that more people are killed on the road than practically any other activity, should we not @ least put forth some sort of effort in tems of educating our drivers? :confused:

  23. #23
    Bring the tech Ajay213's Avatar
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    Speeding is THE single most common factor in MVA's.
    Not paying attention while driving is the most common factor in accidents. Very few accidents are truly "accidents". I'd much rather be on the road with a bunch of people paying 100% attention to the road/conditions going 100mph than I would with a bunch of soccer moms putting on makeup in the mirror while talking on their cell phone and screaming at their kids all the while balancing a triple latte between their legs going 55mph.

    The correlation to speeding has never been truly proven, the limit went down because of a fuel crisis, when it was pulled and most speed limits went up, the amount of deaths/injuries continued to go down. In countries like Germany you can't draw a conclusion about rural no-speed limit highways and accident rate (although the death toll is I believe a bit higher, but hey, hitting something at 100mph is orders of magnitude worse than hitting something at 55mph).

    I mean, you really should have to do more than show the ability to parallel park - ONCE - in order to obtain a license to drive a potentially deadly machine.

    Practical as well as theoretical driver education should be mandatory. Also, retesting should be mandatory - especially in the later years of one's life.

    Considering that fact that more people are killed on the road than practically any other activity, should we not @ least put forth some sort of effort in tems of educating our drivers?
    Obviously I agree here, and there are lots of other countries in the world that actually take drivers education seriously and not just teach kids how to drive around 3 cones in a parking lot. If/when I ever come the place where I have kids learning to drive, first they can learn the rules and such in school (and at home), but I'm going to teach them how to drive, then I'm going to give any teenage males fantasy a poke and a prod by sending the would-be maniac teenager to something like Bob Bondurant's teenage defensive drivers class, hopefully all of that will give them some clue about what can happen in a car when it hits the fan.

    Politically it would be a nightmare, imagine if 25% of the work force could no longer drive a car anymore because they couldn't pass their drivers test. There's no infrastructure for public transportation in place, things would grind to a halt pretty nicely.

    Andrew
    Last edited by Ajay213; 11-21-02 at 01:59 PM.

  24. #24
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Ajay213

    Politically it would be a nightmare, imagine if 25% of the work force could no longer drive a car anymore because they couldn't pass their drivers test. There's no infrastructure for public transportation in place, things would grind to a halt pretty nicely.

    Andrew
    Ok sooo what your saying is making the obviously needed changes to public and alternative transportation could be dangerous politically. Would that be due to Big Oil's influence, the auto industry, or some other unseen malevolent force? I think people should be required to pass more stringent driver's ed courses and be retested on a biannual or possibly five year cycle as a requirement for renewal.


    **donning Nomex suit**

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    Bring the tech Ajay213's Avatar
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    Ok sooo what your saying is making the obviously needed changes to public and alternative transportation could be dangerous politically. Would that be due to Big Oil's influence, the auto industry, or some other unseen malevolent force? I think people should be required to pass more stringent driver's ed courses and be retested on a biannual or possibly five year cycle as a requirement for renewal.
    I agree that the current driving test is a joke, there is no doubt about it. All I'm saying is that you can't change it without putting in a whole lot more stuff than just making a tougher drivers test, and that has nothing to do with Big Oil influence as I doubt the absolute numbers of drivers would change in the long term, people would just actually have to do more to pass. But in the short term the numbers could go down quite a bit. Hell I bet if people were pressed to a real test of road rules they'd fail miserably, let alone a real test of driving skills.

    Andrew

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