Posts Tagged ‘carelessness’

To me, many people’s attitudes toward driving is a strange thing.  In the United States, it is the leading cause of death for people ages 1-34, and nearly 5 million people sustain injuries that require an emergency department visit each year.  In my own experience, there are sad emails that go out to the university informing of a death in the community; overwhelmingly these are traffic related, often either head-on car collisions or cars hitting bicyclists.

In light of this, two related aspects of people’s general attitudes toward driving confuse, and at times, annoy me.  The first is the general impatience and reckless people exhibit while driving – speeding, tailgating, talking on cell phones, etc.

The second is the lack of attention to this problem in most people’s minds.  Instead, a story like Toyota’s alleged problems with their cars will dominate the news, despite the fact that the impact of this on most people’s lives pales in comparison to the problem of reckless drivers.

Fortunately, some writers have addressed this issue, and I have listed some well-written articles on this that I have come across.  (As always, for other articles I find worth-reading, you can take a look at on my bookmarks on Delicious.)

  • Bad drivers are more dangerous than recalled Toyotas – “Have you heard about the operational crisis in the modern car? Recent news accounts are awash with evidence: cars that suddenly accelerate out of control, that careen through signalized intersections, weave across lanes with fatal consequences, spin wildly into people’s houses, and cannot stop in time to avoid killing (nonjaywalking) pedestrians.  What went wrong with the car in each of these cases? The driver.” – the author also has what looks like a very interesting book on the subject, titled Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)
  • Toyotas are safe (enough) – “My back-of-the-envelope calculations (explained in a footnote below) suggest that if you drive one of the Toyotas recalled for acceleration problems and don’t bother to comply with the recall, your chances of being involved in a fatal accident over the next two years because of the unfixed problem are a bit worse than one in a million — 2.8 in a million, to be more exact. Meanwhile, your chances of being killed in a car accident during the next two years just by virtue of being an American are one in 5,244.”
  • Sudden acceleration often caused by drivers – “In 1989, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that the incidents of unintended acceleration by the Audi 5000 were mostly caused by this kind of pedal error — not some electro-mechanical defect in the vehicle. To fix the problem, Audi designed something called an automatic shift lock, which, when the car is being started, keeps the transmission in park unless and until the brake pedal is depressed. If the driver should press the accelerator instead of the brake, the vehicle remains safely in park.”

Other bookmark highlights:

  • xkcd – Single Ladies (and Sauron) – hilarious
  • A nasty attempt to coerce Danish newspapers into apologizing for the cartoons of Mohammed – Hitchens – “The thing would be ridiculous if it were not so hateful and had it not already managed to break the nerve of one Danish newspaper. In Ireland a short while ago, a law against blasphemy was passed, making it a crime to outrage the feelings not just of the country’s disgraced and incriminated Roman Catholic Church but of all believers. The same pseudo-ecumenical tendency can be found in the annual attempt by Muslim states to get the United Nations to pass a resolution outlawing all attacks on religion. It’s not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems. It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule.”
  • Texas hearing considers deeper conservative stamp on textbooks – scary – “There have also been efforts among conservatives on the board to tweak the history of the civil rights movement. One amendment states that the movement created “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Another proposed change removes any reference to race, sex or religion in talking about how different groups have contributed to the national identity.”

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