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View Poll Results: Is driving a Car an inherently dangerous activity

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  • Yes

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  • No

    8 27.59%
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  1. #1
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    The danger of the road

    This may not seem VC oriented yet, but bear with me...

    Is driving a car an inherently dangerous activity that we acept as a way of life seeing as how there are 1000 pound plus vehicles careening along with less then 10 feet between you at 55+ mph and 43,200 motorists die a year?

    By way of this definition
    in·her·ent
    Existing as an essential constituent or characteristic; intrinsic.

  2. #2
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    I think it's a good question.

    I have a couple points.

    Dangerous is relative. Although, that driving a lot is more dangerous then only driving a little, and probably more dangerous then things like walking, taking public transportation, and bicycling responsibly (not drunk, lights at night, right direction, following traffic signals, and not zooming down the sidewalk).

    So compared to these alternative activities, I think it's fair to call driving "dangerous".

    The next point is "inherently". Essential, intrinsic (inseparable, I might add)... I don't see why it has to be the way it is. I think that in the future, we can improve safety systems, etc., and reduce driving mortalities to at least as low as the alternatives. So it is not an inseparable, intrinsic part of driving, IMO.

    But to get on the road in an automobile today, i think you can reduce risks, but I believe you will still on average have a higher risk of mortality then the alternatives. So at the current state, I believe the statistical dangers of driving are not avoidable, only reduceable to level still higher then the alternatives.

    So based on my statements, how should I vote?
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  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    I voted based on my opinion that just about any normal activity is not inherently dangerous, provided that one takes the proper precautions. I exclude from "normal activity" things like space travel and climbing Mount Everest. "Safe" is only relative. If you look at everything that could go wrong, there's not much that could be labeled safe (my computer monitor could blow up and kill me right now for instance). When there are many small things that could go wrong, any one of which would lead to your death, that's where I start calling something dangerous. It gets more difficult as you start looking at the in-between activities but I place things like driving and cycling quite close to the safe marker.

  4. #4
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Zeytoun, I don't want to say which way you should vote on it - but the way I see the inherent coming into it is due to the fact that yes, I personally can do everything to protect myself, but I am one of MANY drivers out there, anyone of which may not have had his brakes checked recently, is reaching for a dropped cigarette, etc. I am also NOT saying that calling it inherently dangerous means you should be scared to drive on the road - just an acknowledgement of the risks we take everyday (if you dirive a car/truck) when we interact with others on the highway.

  5. #5
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I think the accident and death statistic reveal its nature as a dangerous activity. Add to that the amount of road kill, the destruction of habitat to build roads, the destruction of communities to build freeways, the destruction of the natural environment in the creation of the chemicals and materials to build cars and the destruction of the environment, wars and political corruption required to use them. Yep, it's intrinsically dangerous.
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  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    driving inherently dangerous, yes. I believe the statistics show EVERY driver WILL get into an accident during their driving 'career.' Yes, it IS inherently dangerous if everyone will encounter a fender bender or collision or single car accident once while driving.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  7. #7
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Over 90% of all traffic accidents are avoidable. The carnage we see on today’s roadways is the result of people simply not following the rules. The combination of blatant disregard for the rules to just poor diver training makes driving a dangerous activity but I don’t think it is inherently dangerous.

    But I do think there is a major problem that our society accepts traffic fatalities and accidents as simply a cost of doing business to keep America moving and has made concessions under the disguise of promoting moving at the cost of public safety yet if you would look closely at all theses concessions they don’t help keep America moving at all and I would say that they are having the very opposite effect then what they are intending.
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  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    Over 90% of all traffic accidents are avoidable. The carnage we see on today’s roadways is the result of people simply not following the rules. The combination of blatant disregard for the rules to just poor diver training makes driving a dangerous activity but I don’t think it is inherently dangerous.
    Following the rules... job number one... amazingly if motorists followed the rules, then vehicular cycling would work wonderfully... however, as long as some drivers have a "mine" mentality and chose to do selfish things, then cyclists have to do what it takes to be safe out there.

    Is driving inherently dangerous... why do you think a license is required?

  9. #9
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    Is driving inherently dangerous... why do you think a license is required?
    Good point but we also license pilots to keep flying relatively safe as flying would be very dangerous if everyone was allowed to fly and do whatever they thought best.

    So is the inherent problem of all the carnage on the road with just the act of driving or is the problem with the licensing? The balls back in your court.
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  10. #10
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car
    Good point but we also license pilots to keep flying relatively safe as flying would be very dangerous if everyone was allowed to fly and do whatever they thought best.

    So is the inherent problem of all the carnage on the road with just the act of driving or is the problem with the licensing? The balls back in your court.
    Kind of backwards. There is enough danger in just using a 3000 pound vehicle with 10s to 100s of HP of power that the state (every state) requires the user to demonstrate reasonable capability to control the vehicle and to carry insurance... that to me says there is inherent danger in driving... period.

    Now with a strict set of rules in place, driving should be fairly safe... as long as the rules are followed. Now considering the number of motorists and the distances traveled... the general public gets it right most of the time. However... we do have an inordinate number of deaths associated with driving that somehow just get swept under the rug as "part of the equation." Under any other circumstances such carnage would be fodder for some type of protest and political campaign... yet it is "just part of the equation."

    Does it seem odd that we accept that carnage, yet whine about other instances of death so loudly... heck yeah.

    Could the numbers of dead and maimed be reduced... heck yeah... but that means that every driving individual has to do a better job... and that is where the problem lies... most drivers are very willing to say... ah, the next guy can do it. And our legislators are not willing to pony up the funds nor change the requirements to make licensing stricter. "Everyone drives."

    Look at the use of turn signals on the freeway... why doesn't everyone use them? Why doesn't everyone follow with a 2+second safe distance? Why don't drivers stop before turning right on red?

    Little things can save lives... but that is not how driving is "sold" to the American public... it is sold as sexy and exciting... and people buy into that. In reality, it is inherently dangerous... which is why every driver has to have a license and insurance. If it were a safe activity, such as cycling... no insurance would be required.

    EDIT: removed statement about road dead vrs war dead.
    Last edited by genec; 05-18-07 at 08:19 AM.

  11. #11
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    This thread begs the question, "Is cycling inherently dangerous?"

    From here on, the usual posters will take their chosen side in the question, which is usually opposite one another, in a predictable pattern.

    And so continues the circle of life.
    No worries

  12. #12
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Fagerlin
    This kind of hyperbole just makes you look like a fool.

    For example:

    Civil war: 600,000 casualties
    WWII: 400, 000 casualties

    The autophobia inherent in these threads is predictable, yet still funny.
    Now here we agree totally!
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    This thread begs the question, "Is cycling inherently dangerous?"
    Why?

    What are your views about automobile driving?
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  14. #14
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Fagerlin
    The autophobia inherent in these threads is predictable, yet still funny.
    You think it is funny; I think a discussion of degree of danger of any activity, with no concept/consideration of acceptable risk is silly.

  15. #15
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
    You think it is funny; I think a discussion of degree of danger of any activity, with no concept/consideration of acceptable risk is silly.
    That's the point of this poll mostly - discussion of an activity that a LARGE amount of everyday people do or, indirectly, an activity that a large amount of everyday people are being encouraged to do with the other LARGE group of people - if you jump into it while being told it is not inherently dangerous to some level then the activity just becomes even more dangerous.

  16. #16
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Fagerlin
    This kind of hyperbole just makes you look like a fool.

    For example:

    Civil war: 600,000 casualties
    WWII: 400, 000 casualties

    The autophobia inherent in these threads is predictable, yet still funny.
    You're right... I stand corrected. I will go back and take it out.

    However, I believe the sum of all US soldiers killed in all wars is still less than the sum of all drivers killed on US freeways.

    Based on the 1,000,000 soldiers you list above, plus 314,000 for Vietnam, 34,000 in Korea, and 307,000 in the Spanish American war, 115,000 for World War 1 and 4000 for the Gulf wars so far, gives us, about 1,774,000 dead US soldiers in various wars for a high estimate.

    According to this site, however, only 627,047 US soldiers perished in the various wars. http://www.americanfamilytraditions....casualties.htm

    What I can't seem to find are the numbers for hiway deaths over 20 years ago. But based on an assumption of 40,000 per year over 40 years (only back to '67), that gives us a number of 1,600,000 motorists killed on the roads.
    Last edited by genec; 05-18-07 at 09:02 AM.

  17. #17
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    This thread begs the question, "Is cycling inherently dangerous?"

    From here on, the usual posters will take their chosen side in the question, which is usually opposite one another, in a predictable pattern.

    And so continues the circle of life.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Why?
    Because this is a cycling forum.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 05-18-07 at 10:07 PM.
    No worries

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Because this is a cycling forum.
    The OP question begs your question because this is a cycling forum? I'm not following you here.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  19. #19
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Although I agree that danger is relative, so it's difficult to accurately answer as a Yes/No question, my line of reasoning in voting Yes was that if it wasn't, society would not have come to the conclusion that all vehicles should be registered and all drivers be licensed to ensure at least a minimum standard of competence. Imagine how much more dangerous it would be if these were not required!
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  20. #20
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    People are dangerous. End of thread, thank you very much.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  21. #21
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    This thread begs the question, "Is cycling inherently dangerous?"

    From here on, the usual posters will take their chosen side in the question, which is usually opposite one another, in a predictable pattern.

    And so continues the circle of life.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    Why?
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Because this is a cycling forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
    The OP question begs your question because this is a cycling forum? I'm not following you here.
    Oh, I agree that acknowledgement of the carnage on American roads is one of the largest subjects of denial we have. I've posted many, many times that if Americans took seriously the people killed in motoring crashes, the Vietnam War would pale in comparison (that war covered a decade, and was almost equalled by the annual fatalities on our roads today--of course the main difference is that we "choose" to drive, rather than being drafted into it.)

    Why is this posted in a cycling forum, if not to compare cycling with motoring in some fashion? Hence, the danger of cycling is the recycled fear again.

    Look at the thread title, eh?
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 05-18-07 at 10:12 PM.
    No worries

  22. #22
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    People are dangerous. End of thread, thank you very much.
    Very true, pretty much the reason that lead me to post this thread after I read this quote...

    Riding in accordance with the rules of the road is not MY way.
    It is, however, what allows cycling in traffic to not be inherently dangerous.
    If driving is even slightly dangerous due to the fact that humans make some bone-headed and dangerous mistakes for many reasons then.....

    Now I ride in heavy traffic daily as I'm sure many here do, but does anyone here tell themselves (or others) that doing so is not dangerous just because you follow the rules of the road? It is less dangerous I feel if you follow the rules, and I do have faith in my own abilities and observance of those around me, but it's still a risk I look forward to taking every day and the reason why I have a BIG problem with... well, nevermind, but suffice it to say. a super strong rider (not myself) who can hold their speed is much more safe in heavy 45+ mph traffic than someone who is not a strong rider and can't accelerate out of danger, etc. - not that they shouldn't ride in the road, but to tell them that doing so makes the activity inherently NOT dangerous?! well, I don't want them advocating to my family

  23. #23
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Hence, the danger of cycling is the recycled fear again.

    Look at the thread title, eh?
    Recycled fear is far from the reason I posted this - cycling is much safer then driving in my opinon as I sold my car years ago to go car-free and feel much safer then ever despite cycling more miles a year then I used to drive in a year, but it requires acknowledgement of the risks and some here say that following certain behaviors so that we interact on a VERY personal level with these same carange inducing drivers all but removes those same risks created by the average motorist... that is dangerous in my opinon, but please, have at it

  24. #24
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Natelutkjohn, if you're saying that:

    "...cycling is much safer then driving in my opinon as I sold my car years ago to go car-free and feel much safer then ever despite cycling more miles a year then I used to drive in a year,"

    ...how do you reconcile that with the thread title, "The danger of the road?"
    No worries

  25. #25
    Cheesmonger Extraordinair natelutkjohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
    Natelutkjohn, if you're saying that:

    "...cycling is much safer then driving in my opinon as I sold my car years ago to go car-free and feel much safer then ever despite cycling more miles a year then I used to drive in a year,"

    ...how do you reconcile that with the thread title, "The danger of the road?"
    Well, I do feel that cycling is safer then driving due to the fact that I have the choice to ride on the road, on trails, paths, in lanes, etc. But just because I feel I am in more control of myself then the cars around me doesn't mean that now the danger that cars present to themselves and others no longer exists for me when I place myself in between merging and lane changing cars at 45+mph - I also said the line after that one you quoted
    it requires acknowledgement of the risks
    as there defintily are areas of my communte now and in the past that I feel were MUCH more dangerous for me to be doing on a bicycle then in a car - those sections though are few but memorable

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