By on March 3, 2009

In a recent editorial on TTAC, Jack Baruth described a harrowing incident that nearly led to the demise of his beloved Volkswagen Phaeton. The editorial claimed the incident was the masturbatory fantasy of every “driver training” and “active safety” advocate. He concludes that he lived to write another day not because of his driver training, but rather dumb luck. Not so fast, Mr. Baruth.

From his story, we know that Jack was operating a vehicle capable of .82 g’s lateral acceleration at a rate of 123 MPH in the left lane of an AASHTO-compliant interstate highway. As a crash was unfolding in front of him, he recognized that his only avenue of escape was partially blocked so he rapidly decelerated to a speed of 70 mph and then executed his first steering input.

By his own admission, Baruth’s only inputs: hard braking and slow steering. What we don’t know is whether solving this particular problem in the way that he did required the skills of a highly trained driver, the technological wizardry of computer aided driving systems or whether the outcome can be attributed to just plain luck. To see if we can’t figure that out, we’ll have to take a closer look at the three critical components of this and every other behind-the-wheel emergency: the driver, the vehicle and the environment.

Because the crash took Jack by surprise and presented a relatively complex set of problems, it most likely took him 1.2 seconds to understand the problem and come up with a plan to resolve it. It likely took him another .3 seconds to get from the throttle to the brake pedal. By the way, that’s not me saying that; it’s Dr. Marc Green, the world renowned psychologist whose 34 years of research into driver reaction time is universally accepted by accident reconstruction experts around the world.

By then, Jack VeeDub had traveled 271.22 feet.

Based on Jack’s recounting of the tale, the first steering input was made at 70 mph. At that speed, the tightest radius his black panzer would be able to tolerate before it began to slide or lift was 398 feet.

For argument’s sake, and given that Jack had to drop two wheels off the road surface in order to get his 6.24 foot wide car around the problem, let’s say there was 5 feet of clear pavement for him to work with. That means Jack would have had to turn the wheel at least 255.5 feet from the crash in order to safely execute the maneuver in question.

That’s assuming he was capable of operating the vehicle at peak efficiency under significant stress, which is the sort of stuff Lewis Hamilton and Michael Schumacher are made of. While that’s not likely the case, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was capable of operating his vehicle at about 85 percent of peak efficiency, in which case he would have had to turn the wheel no less than 277.5 feet from the crash.

Because we’re a little short on hard data, we’ll make a generous assumption in favor of jack’s marvel of German engineering. We’ll estimate that it required 230 feet to bleed off enough energy to drop from 123 mph to 70 mph. So, to hear the story as Jack tells it, and to solve the problem in the manner he described, he would have needed nearly 779 feet—or close to 46 car lengths—of distance to make his decisions and take the actions he did without overreaching the existing driver/vehicle capability envelope.

With that much room between himself and the problem, had he simply slammed on the brakes when he first noticed the crash he would have come to a stop more than 300 feet from the crash site and have avoided all the other theatrics.

Based on that fact, I dare say that on that fateful day in question, Jack did not find himself in a life or death situation. Nor was it one that required advanced driver training, the technological wizardry of ESC, or any amount of luck to resolve.

All things considered, this story told by Jack, from the dramatic fashion in which it unfolded to the conclusions he draws from it is not the masturbatory fantasy of some “driver training” or “active safety” advocate. This fantasy is his and his alone.

Having said all that, there is some indication that advanced driver training played a role in this scenario, even if it did originate in the author’s fertile mind. After all, weren’t we told that he immediately recognized that “at his current speed the right lane was unreachable”?  Now that’s a skill you just can’t get from a basic drivers ed course.

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65 Comments on “Editorial: The Truth About The Truth About Driver’s Ed...”


  • avatar
    Strippo

    The above is best enjoyed by reading it in the voice of Marisa Tomei’s character from My Cousin Vinny.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    What we don’t know is whether solving this particular problem in the way that he did required the skills of a highly trained driver

    What we do know is that a driver with good judgment would have avoided being in a situation in which he was driving 53 mph above the prevailing flow of traffic, in a setting in which his fellow drivers aren’t driving with the lane discipline and techniques that are required to accommodate that degree of speed variance.

    One doesn’t need driver’s education to know that. Instead, one has to put the proverbial thing back into one’s pants, and drive with a clear head that makes allowances for conditions, i.e. one’s fellow man.

    If advanced driver’s training encourages someone to think that it was prudent to drive at such a speed in that context, then the advanced training isn’t doing its job, and creating the overconfidence that academic studies of the subject identify as a problem. Self control beats car control on a public highway.

  • avatar
    SpeedJebus

    @ Strippo:

    Aaaaahahahahaha….

  • avatar

    Joe, that’s an interesting read.

    The scary thing about coming to a stop 300 ft. before the crash site, though, is the person not paying attention behind you (or behind the person behind you, or behind the person behind the person behind you) and getting hit from behind at 70/50/30 mph.

    Of course, driving through the crash site ain’t much of a pleasant option, either.

  • avatar

    After all, weren’t we told that he immediately recognized that “at his current speed the right lane was unreachable”? Now that’s a skill you just can’t get from a basic drivers ed course.

    No, that’s common sense that even an idiot will understand after a month’s worth of driving.

    The key to driver safety is CHOICE. CHOOSE to pay attention, CHOOSE to decelerate where necessary, CHOOSE to actively avoid risky situations, CHOOSE not to tailgate, CHOOSE to use your turn signal, CHOOSE not to hog the left lane, etc. ad nauseum. None of those require any driver training–or at least nothing more than can be imparted on a trifold pamphlet.

    Everyone doesn’t need Mario Andretti skills; they just need to make better CHOICES.

    People who preach the increased driver education gospel are just endorsing increased government intervention.

    You know what they say about the definition of insanity? Maybe we should stop doing the same thing over and over: dump our failed revenue-oriented, licensing-based traffic safety model and focus instead on things that are actually dangerous. You know, like poor choices.

  • avatar

    Let’s put this in simple terms: are you saying that we should simply not think and jam on the brakes when presented with a likely collision?

    What if Jack multitasks, and instantly jams on the brakes to reduce speed but continues to consider his options as the car decelerates?

    What’s the estimate of 123 feet to drop from 123 to 70 based on? My suspicion is that the actual number is MUCH higher–braking distances are not a linear function of speed.

  • avatar
    red60r

    Marcus makes a good point. The first thing I check when approaching a yellow traffic light is the rear-view mirror. Sometimes, the accelerator is the correct pedal. A number that sticks in my head from Driver’s Ed in 1958 was that it took 350 feet to stop from 60 mph (probably based on 1940′s brakes and tires). We have seen some improvements since then. For a laudable/laughable early attempt at vehicle safety, look up the Cornell-Liberty Safety Car from the late ’50′s. I saw the original in a museum exhibit that made no mention of handling or braking as part of safety.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    I don’t see how this is the truth about driver’s ed. I see it as an educated and detail oriented attempt at dissecting Jack’s description of a scenario he encountered. Without a data log all you have to go by is Jack’s word and he is only human. I’ve not done any testing of his perception of speed and or distance so I can’t be certain that his assessment of the scenario is accurate and that means your calculations may be skewed, also I’m not sure if you are not taking into account variables like tire pressures, vehicle loading (passengers) the temperature and tire compound. As I’m not a physicist I won’t claim that these variables could greatly alter the numbers you came up with but I believe that the output of most equations is only as good as the input.

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    Here’s a nifty little calculator that comes up with a stopping distance of 633 ft. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/crstp.html

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Everyone doesn’t need Mario Andretti skills; they just need to make better CHOICES.

    Exactly. People choose to do things that they were specifically taught not to do. Repeating the message won’t help.

    As I noted on the other thread, a big part of the problem is that risky driving behavior is often enjoyable or is otherwise the preference of the driver taking the risks. The training doesn’t deter them from doing it, but just encourages them to rationalize why they are exceptions to the rule who don’t have to follow the guidelines that others (who are presumably inferior to themselves) have to follow.

    Training doesn’t make these things any less fun. A conscience might, but you can’t get one of those from a driver education course.

  • avatar
    shrique

    Choices.

    At a certain level the human mind freezes up when given too many choices, especially in regards to life and death. Talk to any drill Sargent about that. His job is to reduce the rational thought behind making a choice and promote straight reaction. That’s what drivers training does.

    We keep going back to this guys experience of driving way too fast and saving his own keister. If he would have made the CHOICE to not drive so damn fast he wouldn’t have had to head over to the right shoulder.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    “Not so fast, Mr. Baruth…” indeed. Literally.

  • avatar
    JuniorMint

    Strippo :
    The above is best enjoyed by reading it in the voice of Marisa Tomei’s character from My Cousin Vinny.

    He’s right. D: That’s brilliant!

    I should think this wondrous rule would be applicable to the rest of the science texts on the internet! School just got interesting again! Thank you, Mr. Strippo! <3

  • avatar
    paykan GT

    123 MPH, 1.2 seconds, 0.3 second.
    These put together don’t equal 271.22 feet.

    “Significant Figures!” As my Physics teacher reminded me, with his ruler and my palms.

  • avatar
    tms1999

    1 mile is 5280 ft

    123 mph is 649440 ft/hour
    123 mph is 180.4 ft/second
    1.5 sec at that speed is 270.6 ft travelled

    All units in good old American miles, American feet, and American second.

    I’m not sure if I added 1.2 and 0.3 correctly though. And I don’t know where the other figure came from. French feet? British seconds? It couldn’t be relativistic effect, though, could it?

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    Michael Karesh :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Let’s put this in simple terms: are you saying that we should simply not think and jam on the brakes when presented with a likely collision?

    What if Jack multitasks, and instantly jams on the brakes to reduce speed but continues to consider his options as the car decelerates?

    What’s the estimate of 123 feet to drop from 123 to 70 based on? My suspicion is that the actual number is MUCH higher–braking distances are not a linear function of speed.

    With ESC in Fact Jack can jam on the brakes – which have an electronic brake system noticing his hard push, bringing the Phaeton to maximum braking power, even if Jack does not hit the floor. He can continue breaking while trying to pass the other car – ABS and ESP allow this. You do NOT need to release the brake.

    I cannot really follow the details of Joe’s calculation – but in general the car in which Jack was driving had enough electronic wizardry to stop him much earlier than nearly 800 feet away.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    This reminds me of a very close call I had. Weather was hard showers followed by periods of bright sunlight. On northbound I-5 right by the Tacoma Dome, a known spot for problems, a three-car rear-ender happened in front of me in the left lane while another “minor” one occurred in the right lane. Only thing I could do was hit the brakes – there was nowhere to go. Not only did I stop ok, but the couple of guys behind me did too. We were all just plain damn lucky, I think. Or maybe, we were following far enough apart for conditions.

  • avatar
    Ferrygeist

    Although it’s been alluded to in some of the comments attending this ongoing argument, I’m surprised that no one’s mentioned the human response problem of panic.

    Panic most often occurs in people who find themselves in sudden, life-threatening situations, and who are not trained in how to deal with that situation. Anyone who’s been trained as an ocean lifeguard (or EMT, or any other number of first-responders) will understand this. Put a poor swimmer who’s not adept at dealing with surf in a riptide, with high surf, who loses visibility of the beach, and is weakening by the second, and you’ll most likely engender a panic response, and panic will drown a drowning swimmer much faster. And for the rescuer, it’s the single highest liability in making rescues: a panicked swimmer can drown both himself and his rescuer. We (I was one once, many years ago) are highly trained to deal with these conditions. For a lifeguard, what might be utterly benign conditions can be lethal for a bad, unconditioned swimmer.

    The point is probably obvious: the acute stress of a drowning swimmer is analogous to an un-advanced trained driver in an unfolding car accident, where responses are measured in seconds, not minutes: both are in well over their heads.

    Likewise, a much more highly trained driver (that’s me too), who has been conditioned to respond to unfolding stress can measure the situation, stay calm, make a rational decision and execute a better-than-average response in time to hopefully mitigate worst-case results. That is, avoid panicking.

    Put another way, if you’re been trained to race cars, finding yourself in a spin isn’t scary; you have time to think, check your mirrors, put both feet in, remain aware of where other cars are, etc. If you’re an average commuter, finding yourself in a spin on the freeway is absolute mind and body-freezing terror.

    Panic: highly-trained drivers are less apt to suffer from it in an emergency and thus less likely to be involved in or cause a secondary crash. For that reason alone, I think advanced driver’s safety is important.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    the acute stress of a drowning swimmer is analogous to an un-advanced trained driver in an unfolding car accident, where responses are measured in seconds, not minutes: both are in well over their heads.

    The problem with that metaphor is that it doesn’t apply to street driving.

    Once accidents such as this are in progress, they are not likely to be avoided due to skill or talent. The laws of physics take over, with the limitations and advantages of the car dialed into the equation.

    The trained drivers not only crash, but they are more likely to push the envelope more often, which exposes them to more situations just like this one. That leads to a higher overall crash rate among the allegedly “trained”, because they rationalize risks that they shouldn’t be taking in the first place.

    The best way to avoid accidents is to avoid the circumstances that cause accidents. The belief that good training will fix self-inflicted problems once they have begun is a huge mistake, one that leads to more accidents, not fewer of them.

  • avatar
    RetardedSparks

    @Ferrygeist:
    Good point. Dennis Jenkinson described this very well his classic book “The Racing Driver.” Fear is a reaction to the unknown, he said. It’s not that racing drivers have no fear, it’s that they are trained to anticipate the possible consequences of their actions at any given moment. No unknowns = no fear = no panic.

  • avatar
    TxTransplant

    tms & paykan,

    The actual conversion rate is 1.47, which means the correct rate of speed, expressed in feet per second, would indeed be 271.21.

    strippo,

    I was thinking more along the lines of Dennis Leery or Dennis Miller myself, but Maris Tomei will certainly do as well.

    mr. Karesh,

    I suspect that was what Autera was elluding to with Because we’re a little short on hard data, we’ll make a generous assumption in favor of jack’s marvel of German engineering.

    It would seem that he was unable to make allowances for variables like tire pressures, vehicle loading, Cf of the road surface, and the like. Though I would venture an educated guess that some of those factors – vehicle loading in particular – would likely have had a negative effect on the vehicle’s performance, especially with regard to braking and cornering.

    I see his point though, assumptions and all. The scenario that Mr. Baruth presented as the basis for his conclusion now appears to have been contrived, perhaps irrefutably so,as a vehicle for offering up an opinion, which he cloaked in a dubious first hand experience so as to lend it some credence.

    What I myself find most interesting is that in his original piece Baruth described himself as a “mildly trained” driver, then after much cajoling he admitted in his follow-on comments that he had been through a number of advanced driver training programs. Now it appears that he did indeed allow a glimmer of that training to shine through in relaying his tale of derring-do.

    Perhaps those callouses originate from more than just a firm grip on the wheel and ill-fitting driving gloves.

  • avatar
    tedward

    argh, is this still going to develop into an article about driver’s ed vs. passive safety? I’m seriously interested in a result after that nice little comments dust-up following Jack’s article.

    Joe, I think your point is fairly well demonstrated by this, “he immediately recognized that “at his current speed the right lane was unreachable”” Your argument is demonstrated here, as most people would not realize this unless they’ve practiced breaking traction with the front wheels (Jack was likely being self-deprecatory denying this here, probably to cover for a story that could be construed as bragging). On the other hand the meat of this story is still about a well trained driver taking excessive risks (which certainly assists the point Pch101 was making, and which, anecdotally, matches my experience (every cop I’ve ever known for one)).

    If that training vs. tech argument is going to take place it really needs boundaries. What type of training is politically and pragmatically feasible for the general pop. in the US (NOT Finland, NOT Secret Service members), what are it’s likely costs and then, what is the effect on safety? Same goes for the other side; What are the pending safety tech. improvements that can reasonably be implemented in the future, what are their likely costs and effect on safety?

    There is no doubt that a Chinese reeducation style driver training would improve anyone’s behaviour, just as building a car entirely from titanium alloy and carbon fiber will definitely make it safer. What we need to discuss here is what can actually be improved, not the simple driver-training-dosen’t-help-at-all or better-training-pwns-passive-safety in all cases. It’s just not going to work out that simplistically.

  • avatar
    Ferrygeist

    “The trained drivers not only crash, but they are more likely to push the envelope more often, which exposes them to more situations just like this one.”

    A good point, but one I’m not sure I believe, at least as far as my own experience goes.

    I can only speak about myself and the other drivers I know personally through the POC, PCA, VARA, NASA, SCCA and other high-performance track/racing groups, and maybe that says more about the people I know than anything else, but one of the highest values inculcated in us is that the kind of envelope pushing we do on the track is absolutely NOT appropriate on public roads, most especially high volume freeways and highways in traffic. A common theme I’ve heard over and over in driver’s meetings, training sessions, and the classroom is how so many of us types of drivers actually drive quite like the proverbial grandmother in regular traffic. I’m quite fastidious in following rules of the road, always signal, try to maintain a safe envelope in front of me, don’t tailgate, don’t weave, etc.

    I think you get the point.

    Now, I do understand that the type of advanced driver’s ed we’re probably talking about isn’t the type I’m used to, and that it would be probably not much more than a weekend course: not enough to soundly cure a fanboy enthusiast with more guts than brains of bad habits, and yes, it may encourage a kind of arrogance. But then, what we’re really talking about here is social responsibility more than skill, conditioned responses, auto technology and so forth, and if that’s the case, then Jack’s original escapade is as deeply irresponsible as any I’ve heard.

    And personally, as someone who owns and drives cars capable of terrifying performance, it would still be and is perhaps even more so simply impossible for me to imagine the idea of doing 123mph in traffic, even more so with passengers, even more so with my family.

    So…err…yeah: panic response, driver’s ed and all that said, don’t drive irresponsibly.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Aren and PCH,

    I think you take your argument too far. Certainly, you cannot easily teach good judgement and better choice making at a drivers ed course. It’s the stuff of many years of parents’, teachers’, and others’ inputs to learn good judgement.

    However, we know that the better informed people tend to make better decisions. The military spends millions every year training soldiers to make good choices, and we know it works, even if only marginally. Time and money are always limited though.

    We have also learned in aviation that you can teach a lot of choices in advance, as if they were 100% correct – even though they are not. This means that most people, in most situations, will resort to their training which may kill one set of passengers, but will save the other 99 out of 100. It results in better fleet averages, AND the few guys actually capable of knowing the exceptions can often break the trend and save the other 1 percent.

    Without regard to the cool math done here, we know Jack has a lot more high speed driver experience than most folks, so even if he was foolish enough to drive that fast on an interstate full of idiots, his experience could have come in handy. We get experience by doing, but if we follow your argument, the training that we normally give people BEFORE putting them on a track or skidpad doesn’t do any good.

    In other words, training can help people make better choices by informing them of consequences (don’t drive so fast – you can die) as well as giving them tools to survive in a learning experience (knowledge of how to keep the car in control, and experience enough not to panic). There are no guarantees it will always work, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work at all.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Also, I do not believe it’s really arguing the point in good faith to reconstruct a sloppily narrated accident story as forensic proof that it didn’t take place. It’s likely ABS was active and steering and braking occured simultaneously, regardless of what the driver thought afterwards. It’s also responsible driving to avoid coming to a full stop on the interstate; the hesitation to be last on line would certainly make me aim to get through the accident (operation human shield indeed). Shoot, maybe he could have stopped, but just didn’t realize it because he’d become so used to forward movement, or because he dosen’t regularly practice 123mph panic braking (gasp!).

  • avatar

    However, we know that the better informed people tend to make better decisions.

    No qualms. However, if you subtract the parts of driver’s ed that are simply intuitive or can be quickly learned with experience, the rest can be summed up on a trifold pamphlet.

    Driver training is a mere cultural phenomenon, a rite of passage. It is so unnecessary, and it cannot cause an end to voluntary carelessness.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    First thing’s first: why am I even traveling at greater-than-legal speeds in the first place?

    Next important thing would be, as said in an earlier post, to look in the rear view mirror. That’s how highway pileups happen: when the person behind you isn’t paying attention to your vehicle and the conditions ahead.

  • avatar

    First thing’s first: why am I even traveling at greater-than-legal speeds in the first place?

    What does an arbitrary and capricious political number have to do with safety?

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Joe, given what you have said, it makes sense that Jack “could” have possibly stopped the car before reaching the accident “red-zone”.

    But on the freeway, there’s a natural resistance to come to a complete stop, for the very same reason mentioned by a couple of prior posters: You could end up with an SUV up your .. er, “tailpipe.”

    Thinking about my (thankfully) few times of having to make an emergency action on the freeway, I very likely would have done the same thing as Jack: convert speed to heat, and steer THROUGH the incident.

    Unless ALL pathways are blocked, my #1 priority is to escape. After that, if my help is needed, I could probably easily find a safe place to park the car DOWNSTREAM from the accident, to reduce the chances that my car would be another obstacle on the right of way.

    EDIT: I should clarify that I would never be driving at anything near 90 (let alone 120) on a US freeway, so I would have a lot more reaction time.

  • avatar

    Bravo to Mr. Autera for taking the time to work the numbers, and also for writing and contributing his response.

    The only difficulty I see with the story is that, if I’m reading it correctly, the “right thing to do” is almost always to stand on the brakes and come to a halt, which is pretty much everybody’s first impulse anyway. This would seem to argue that active safety and driver training are useless, which was the point of my original article. Of course, given that cars behind me ended up running into the accident, I’m not sure I would have been that much better off :)

    My account of the original incident has been dissected more times than the Zapruder film, and since I wasn’t running video at the time it’s really impossible for anyone to know what happened in detail, including myself.

    What I can tell you was that, at the time, I did not consider it a “panic” or unrecoverable situation. Threshold braking from 120+ mph is something I do more than a dozen weekends a year, over and over again, and usually without the benefit of ABS.

    @Ferrygeist:

    We’re both working with anecdotal data here, but I can easy recall many, many times I have seen “senior instructors” and pro racers operate at outrageous velocities on public roads. Not too long ago I saw two guys with Rolex GT tickets engage in an impromptu 0-160 drag race on a not-exactly empty public freeway. As in… they came to a frickin’ halt, dropped the clutch, and accelerated until there was a one-car gap to settle the matter, by which point they were well into fifth gear in a pair of 500+ hp cars.

    And yet those same guys would probably tell you over lunch that they are “cautious street drivers”.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    The problem is we call collisions accidents. We should get in the habit of calling them torts.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    @Pch101
    I’d have to disagree with your statement that “Once accidents such as this are in progress, they are not likely to be avoided due to skill or talent.”

    Two examples :
    Driving in the leftmost lane of a four-lane one-way road in the middle of a large downtown area on a Sunday. No traffic on the road but me. Coming up on a red light, it turns green while I’m still 1/2 a block away. Construction work had the left side block surrounded by plywood barrier, blocking vision. The moment I enter the insersection, peripheral vision picks up a car moving fast, no more than 10 feet away, oblivious to the red light. I immediately haul the wheel to the right, slide the Mustang GT sideweys across the intersection (knowing there was no traffic), and recover neatly in the right-most lane on the other side of the far crosswalk. While drifting, I mentally prepared for the impact of the car against my left rear corner with the right amount of counter-steer. She must have braked hard because there was no impact. If I had panicked or froze I would have been injured severely.

    A heavy downpour, at night, on a two-lane non-divided highway. Posted speed – 100kph. Me – 75-80kph because at any higher speed the tires start to hydroplane – it’s REALLY coming down. Oncoming driver comes over the hill in front, bombing along oblivious to the rain. I have time to think “He’s going to lose it when he gets to the bottom of the hill”, when he goes sideways right where I predicted he would. I let off the gas and steer slightly to the right. He crosses into my lane, hits the guard rail, and bounces back across to the opposite shoulder 150 feet from me – plenty of safety margin. I had his trajectory in mind the whole time and avoided his path with ease. My wife’s response -> clutch the armrest and yell “Please don’t hit us! Please don’t hit us!”. Funniest part was when the kid came over to see if we were OK, and he said all he could do was cry “Please don’t hit them! Please don’t hit them!” as he slid. That and the giant wave of water the semi threw on him…

  • avatar
    tms1999

    @TxTransplant
    The actual conversion rate is 1.47, which means the correct rate of speed, expressed in feet per second, would indeed be 271.21.

    I move that the correct number is indeed 270.6.

    Your conversion number is conveniently rounded. 1 mph is 1.466666…

    My number is exact, your number is a good approximation.

    Anal at math? Probably.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I can only speak about myself and the other drivers I know personally through the POC, PCA, VARA, NASA, SCCA and other high-performance track/racing groups, and maybe that says more about the people I know than anything else, but one of the highest values inculcated in us is that the kind of envelope pushing we do on the track is absolutely NOT appropriate on public roads, most especially high volume freeways and highways in traffic.

    Anecdotes like this are outweighed by research that contradicts it. I posted one example on Mr. Baruth’s thread; here’s another:

    ________

    The lack of evidence in favour of novice driver training is also reflected in evaluations of post-licence training provided for general drivers and traffic offenders. A seminal research study in this area examined 16 controlled studies into the effects of defensive driving courses, mainly operating in the USA (Lund & Williams, 1985). While many of the studies had design flaws, the methodologically strong evaluations showed reductions in violations, but no consistent effect on crashes. An evaluation of the Queensland Defensive Driving Course (DDC) concluded that the course did not reduce crashes among 17 – 19 year olds and that it may be harmful to this age group (Payne, Brownlea & Hall, 1984). While there was some evidence that the course was of benefit to male drivers between 20 – 39 years of age who drive as an occupation, these benefits did not exceed the cost of the program.

    In addition, there is some evidence that certain driver training programs can have a deleterious effect. In the 1980s, the Norwegian Government introduced a two-phase novice driver training program featuring training in night-time and slippery surface conditions. An evaluation found that while the night-time driving course reduced the crash risk of participants for a couple of years following the training, the slippery surface course increased their crash risk (Glad, 1988 in Lynam & Twisk, 1995). It has been suggested that courses which teach more advanced skills, such as skid control, can actually contribute to an increase in crash rates by instilling a sense of over-confidence in participants (RTA, 1995a).

    ________

    The basic problem in discussions such as these is that peoples’ gut instincts are flat out wrong. The presumption that accidents are caused by a lack of technical ability has been consistently disproven, again and again and again. The occasional anecdote is outweighed by far more evidence that supports the opposite position.

    The same paper discusses this “paradox” of public perception being completely off the mark:

    ________

    While not an exhaustive list, the types of behavioural approaches widely supported by the public which have not been shown to be cost-effective include:
    • specialised or intensive driver training programs for novice and general drivers;
    • stricter licence testing procedures;
    • harsher traffic offence penalties;
    • the isolated use of mass media campaigns;
    • the use of fear-based graphic/shock tactics in road safety publicity; and
    • the widespread use of unmarked police vehicles (Watson & Booth, 1992; RTA, 1995a, 1995b; Watson et al, 1996).

    Public perceptions in this area are also quite resistant to change, even in the face of contradictory information (eg. Higgins, 1995). This is well shown in the following summary of focus group work conducted with Queensland drivers:

    There was a strong perception among participants that the government should do something about the training of novice drivers. Many believe that the answer is compulsory defensive driver training for novice drivers. Interestingly, issues of effectiveness, access and cost tended to be glossed over as the ends justified the means. Other options are rarely considered but anything is welcomed (Watson et al, 1996, p.24-25).

    …(D)rivers to place a greater emphasis on their own experiences, than the views of experts. As noted by Shinar (1978, p.130), there “is a problem in modifying human behaviour that is unique to the area of driving, everybody thinks he or she is an expert”. In other words, in cases where a behavioural approach appears to be intuitively consistent with a driver’s own experiences, they may be more prepared to ignore contradictory scientific evidence or ‘expert’ opinion. For example, a driver who is involved in an incident where their vehicle skidded out of control may be reluctant to accept that skid training would not be of some benefit in reducing crashes.

    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/7295/2/7295.pdf

  • avatar
    Ferrygeist

    “The presumption that accidents are caused by a lack of technical ability has been consistently disproven, again and again and again.”

    Perhaps so. If I was sloppy and suggested I was talking about causing accidents, then I apologize. I’m really talking about already-unfolding-accident avoidance.

    Again, strictly from personal experience, in twenty six years of driving, I have never caused an accident. For that matter, I’ve never been involved in a moving collision of any kind (although my parked car has been driven in to twice). For that matter, I’ve never been issued a single moving violation, nor even been pulled over barring a technical illegal left turn in a poorly marked bus-turn-only lane, when I was sixteen years old. And I don’t have a radar detector. Too, most of the fellow racers I know–am actually friends with–drive with a strong sense of social responsibility. If I’m basing my notions on a very limited sample set, then, well, that’s all I’ve got to work with.

    But, I will defer to those of you with much more amateur or professional experience in the data, et al, of the issue at hand. All I have is what’s anecdotal to me, and the business, politics, and sociology of driving isn’t something I’m well versed in.

    YMM.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    PCH,

    Granted, you are correct that everyone overestimates their abilities, but you are wrong in following that into a dismissal of driver education. People who have never had their limits tested, not been presented with evidence of the true likely outcome of their carelessness, or had their assumptions confronted are more likely to make bad decisions. Driver education should change that.

    Hooning with your uncle is not driver education.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Again, strictly from personal experience, in twenty six years of driving, I have never caused an accident. For that matter, I’ve never been involved in a moving collision of any kind (although my parked car has been driven in to twice). For that matter, I’ve never been issued a single moving violation, nor even been pulled over barring a technical illegal left turn in a poorly marked bus-turn-only lane, when I was sixteen years old. And I don’t have a radar detector. Too, most of the fellow racers I know–am actually friends with–drive with a strong sense of social responsibility. If I’m basing my notions on a very limited sample set, then, well, that’s all I’ve got to work with.

    My mother has never been in an accident either, in 45 years of driving. Frankly, her skills are terrible. If she went off the shoulder, I’m sure that would be the end for her. She wouldn’t know she was in a skid until the front of the car swapped ends with the rear, even then I’m not sure she’d know what to do. She’s never had a moving violation, nor even a “technically” illegal left turn.

    It’s difficult for people to accept, but driving safety has almost nothing to do with technical skills. We could mandate advanced training for everyone, but it would make very little impact on the accident (tort) statistics. Most accidents are not caused by lack of skill, nor are many avoided by employment of the sorts of skills taught as “advanced” driver training.

    This whole business is counter-intuitive. People feel strongly that increased driving skill must result in greater public safety. The stubbornness with which people cling to their intuitions concerning driving is rivaled, perhaps, only by the “Monty Hall Problem”.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Once accidents such as this are in progress, they are not likely to be avoided due to skill or talent. The laws of physics take over, with the limitations and advantages of the car dialed into the equation.…

    Or are they? Perhaps the analogy of swimming does not work perfectly, but how about aviation? Consider the pilot who put his Airbus into the Hudson river. The physics are immutable, but his skill, experience, and training allowed him to assess the situation, create a plan in seconds, and execute it. He may have had more time relative to a car accident avoidance maneuver, but the implications of killing yourself, a plane full of people, and crash landing your aircraft into one of the most densely populated areas on the planet has to affect your ability to make good decisions. He managed to avoid a major disaster because he kept his cool. That was due to training.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Are we having a symantic disagreement?

    Are you guys limiting education and skill to the ability to control a car near it’s limits?

    I say that is silly. Let’s have an example of a type of accident which could not be reduced in frequency or severity by education and training.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    I have a few friends who’ve lost control (spun out) after dodging someone entering their lane, then overcorrecting. They probably lifted or braked while swinging wildly at the wheel. That IS something that advanced training would help with.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Let’s have an example of a type of accident which could not be reduced in frequency or severity by education and training.

    As I inferred above, all of these have been studied to death:

    -The typical driver’s education coursework taught to new drivers can teach basic operational skills, but doesn’t reduce crash rates.

    -Advanced training, such as skid control, not only doesn’t lower accident rates, but the crash rate for those who take the courses is higher than those who don’t.

    -Safe driver training doesn’t tend to help, either, although it has been shown to a modest benefit for fleet drivers. But the training isn’t cost effective, and there are alternatives that are superior.

    In academic circles where this has been studied for a few decades, there is no debate or controversy about these points. The studies all basically concur with these and acknowledge that these points are well established by the research. It’s only controversial here because people don’t want to believe it.

    Consider the pilot who put his Airbus into the Hudson river.

    A large part of the problem here is that people exaggerate the difficulties of driving. The hard work of using power, torque and fuel to fight wind resistance is being done by your car, not you. Thank the engineers, designers and assembly line workers for doing the work for you. It bears zero resemblance to flying or landing an airplane.

    You don’t drive a car on the street anywhere near its limits, nor should you. If you did, you’d go to jail and deserve the trip, because the limits of your vehicle are well beyond the limits of safety in a public setting.

    As is the case in a grand prix, you’d want one way traffic with no cross traffic, crash barriers and limited access before attempting to push the car to the max. If you drive on the street at more than 5/10th’s or so, then chances are that you are a menace to society who is going to eventually wreck.

    To compare street driving to driving on a track, flying or whatever is a bit like comparing a stroll on the beach to an Olympic track and field event. A pro athlete needs to train for years to perfect his craft, while a beach walk is an easy, low skill task that virtually anyone with a working set of legs can perform. It’s your car, not you, who is doing the heavy lifting in this equation.

  • avatar
    jet_silver

    Pch101

    a driver with good judgment would have avoided being in a situation in which he was driving 53 mph above the prevailing flow of traffic

    FTW. It’s all good fun when the NSX club rents a helo and uses I-5 as a drag strip when no one else is there; it’s madness when there are other cars sharing the road.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Pch,
    As you know, I could give a shot about most academics. I know too many of them to me fooled by their credentials.

    Just curious, how did they control for the fact that advanced driver training students self select? At any rate, all they may have proved is that the courses in question failed in their mission.

    Try taking I70 in winter from denver to the slopes. Now, you tell me that you believe that all those people skidding out of control knew they couldn’t stop safely at the speed they were traveling but still chose to do so. We all know most of them had no idea how fast was safe, and such knowledge would slow most of them down.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Try taking I70 in winter from denver to the slopes. Now, you tell me that you believe that all those people skidding out of control knew they couldn’t stop safely at the speed they were traveling but still chose to do so. We all know most of them had no idea how fast was safe, and such knowledge would slow most of them down.

    I think that’s right – People were driving too fast for conditions.

    If you want to argue that basic driver training doesn’t do a good job of teaching people to drive in snow/ice I might agree. However, not going too fast for conditions is not an “advanced” skill. It’s very basic. If you want to say that everyone should negotiate an ice covered skid pad so they know what it feels like to drive on ice, ok, we can do that. Want to take bets on how much that reduces accident rates?

    Everyone who lives in Michigan has experience driving on slippery roads. Yet every year, on the first day we have snow, people get in accidents. It’s almost like they’ve forgotten everything they’ve learned in 5, 15, 25 years. The reality is they drive too fast for conditions even though they know damn well what the conditions are like.

    If I have understood the ongoing discussion correctly, we aren’t arguing whether or not someone should be able to take advanced training if they choose to do so. We are discussing whether or not to make advanced training mandatory with a view to reducing traffic accidents.

    My feeling is that expensive and time consuming “advanced” training won’t make much of a dent in the accident statistics. Most accidents aren’t caused by lack of skill, and most can’t be avoided by the employmet of skill.

  • avatar
    Ronman

    yada yada yada, this dicussion is going on too long.

    driver trainig will give you a set of skills needed to better assess the situation you’re in and the technique to avoind loosing control of your car.

    now…. Jack was barelling down a highway at 123 MPH, as this post indicates that if he had just stood on the brakes he would have stopped well clear of the crash. maybe so. but even when he got off the brakes at 70, another aplication of the brakes on such a car would have easily helped him either stop or approach the crash site at even more manageable speed, say 30 or even less.

    so the thing you guys are arguing about is what went through jack’s head. now as him being the driver it’s up to him to decide what to do, and it seems like it was a success. but it is not exactly textbook, and it’s not a good example.

    braking and avoiding should be basic driver reflex. but spotting the gap in which to dive into, and avoiding oncoming traffic is what being aware at all times gives as a result.

    i’ve had 17 crashes in total, all of them no more than 3 miles from home all from other untatetive people at low speeds. note, i have avaoided much more, it’s just that when people drive the limit they are compalcent, people driving at high speed (educated ones at least) are aware of what they are doing and take everything into consideration.

    when i drive at the limit and above i assume control and avoid being in sticky situations before they even happen as i can notice them taking shape. when i drive slow with the wife i feel like i’m in a bumper car game with a big bulleye on my back avoiding other people’s stupidity and unawareness.

    point is, whatever the speed you should stay vigilant, and that gives a big advantage when the shit hits the fan. i dont see that a specific technique will always work, whereas experience will be a large asset, and that is what driver training gives you. (unless you live in the middle east)

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    PCH101

    Once accidents such as this are in progress, they are not likely to be avoided due to skill or talent.

    so the Finns are wasting their time with 3 years of licence training?

    The best way to avoid accidents is to avoid the circumstances that cause accidents. The belief that good training will fix self-inflicted problems once they have begun is a huge mistake, one that leads to more accidents, not fewer of them

    sounds right to me

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Just curious, how did they control for the fact that advanced driver training students self select?

    One of the studies referenced above is one that studied drivers in Norway. Norway instituted mandatory anti-skid training courses on a specific date, so the study was able to compare one pool of drivers who didn’t have the training with another one who did. Those who had the training did not have lower crash rates, and the males in the group who had the training had a higher crash rate than does who did not.

    ____

    Skid training is a part of the driving school curricula in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden)…However, the effects of skid training have so far been disappointing: the expected safety effects of the training have not yet been verified and there are reports of the opposite. When Norway adopted skid training as a part of driver training, the number of accidents on slippery roads increased among young (18-24 years) men (Glad 1988). In Finland, the results of skid training were partly similar. In a Finnish study (Keskinen, Hatakka, Katila and Laapotti 1992), 30,616 novice drivers answered a questionnaire about the accidents they had been involved in during the first 6 – 18 months of their driving career. A reduction in the proportion of accidents on slippery roads was found for drivers over 21 years, but like in Norway both male and female younger drivers (18-20 years), had a larger proportion of their accidents in slippery road conditions after the introduction of the skid course.

    A hypothesis has already been put forward (Glad 1988; Moe 1984) that the increase in slippery road accidents in Norway was due to an increase in drivers’ confidence in their own skills in driving in slippery road conditions. Because of their increased confidence, drivers do not avoid difficult driving conditions or they can even take on more demanding driving tasks by driving at a higher speed. To test this hypothesis among Finnish novice drivers, another questionnaire study of drivers’ confidence and fears was carried out as a part of the major follow-up study of the effects of the new driving school curriculum (n=1319). The results showed that skid training courses had increased drivers’ confidence in their own abilities to drive in slippery road conditions (Keskinen et al. 1992). Gregersen (1996) has reported similar results of young drivers’ increased confidence or “overestimation of their own skill” as a result of skill training in slippery road conditions.
    _________

    The problem is that behind-the-wheel training gives people more confidence, which encourages risk taking. The more risks one takes, the more likely that one is to crash, and any technical benefit of the training is outweighed by the accidents that come from the higher level of risk.

    Try taking I70 in winter from denver to the slopes. Now, you tell me that you believe that all those people skidding out of control knew they couldn’t stop safely at the speed they were traveling but still chose to do so.

    The average driver is like most of the people posting here, one who assumes that his own skills are above average, that skills matter a lot, and that everyone else is the problem.

    The end result of that is that each driver assumes that he himself can handle these circumstances, while others may fail. After all, since he has the skills and everyone else doesn’t, the other people can wreck…but he won’t be one of them.

    Once they have driven like this time and time again without crashing, they assume that they will continue to be successful because, after all, their skills set them apart and above from everyone else. They don’t realize that their number just hasn’t yet come up, and it’s a statistical roll of the dice, not talent, that has kept them from crashing so far.

  • avatar
    Jared

    What we do know is that a driver with good judgment would have avoided being in a situation in which he was driving 53 mph above the prevailing flow of traffic, in a setting in which his fellow drivers aren’t driving with the lane discipline and techniques that are required to accommodate that degree of speed variance.

    Amen!

    The only lesson that can be drawn from Mr. Baruth’s incident concerns Mr. Baruth’s judgment, or lack of same.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Pch,
    Their curricula should therefore change. Perhaps they should simply put the kids into a spin, ask them what would have happened if they had done that on a highway. Or, at least reinforce the lesson that even shumacher can’t always recover fast enough before he runs out of road – in good conditions!

    Your description of how people learn to ignore risk is spot on, and yet we never teach this outside of the better flight schools. Never.

    Lastly, complete fools and teenagers are hopeless, but on the average, education can work.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Perhaps they should simply put the kids into a spin, ask them what would have happened if they had done that on a highway. Or, at least reinforce the lesson that even shumacher can’t always recover fast enough before he runs out of road – in good conditions!

    The problem found time and time again is that those who receive behind-the-wheel training end up believing that the training allows them to get away with more, so they take more chances. If you put them on a skidpad and slide them around, they’ll have fun and they want to do it again, even if the instructor is solemn.

    It’s the nature of driving that is the problem. As a technical skill, it is incredibly easy to perform, while a lot of high risk driving behavior is enjoyable or convenient. Combine that with the average person’s belief that he himself is a great driver, and that everyone else is a problem, and you have a recipe for a situation in which training has minimal effect.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Try taking I70 in winter from denver to the slopes. Now, you tell me that you believe that all those people skidding out of control knew they couldn’t stop safely at the speed they were traveling but still chose to do so. We all know most of them had no idea how fast was safe, and such knowledge would slow most of them down.

    Just did that last week. I was amazed at how many drivers, safely ensconced in the Eisenhower Tunnel sped along, ignoring all the info being flashed on the boards. When they exited the tunnel, they hit snow covered roads, with a steep grade. What a mess. Common sense must have been on vacation, or perhaps there was too much confidence in their vehicles’ technology.

  • avatar

    …ignoring all the info being flashed on the boards.

    Maybe that’s because signs over-nanny and over-restrict too much to have any credibility?

  • avatar
    agenthex

    The problem is that behind-the-wheel training gives people more confidence, which encourages risk taking.

    You’re pretty obviously obfuscating two separate issues. Again. The risk of doing something is clearly higher than not doing it at all. This is distinct from being more dangerous in the same situation. Again, one line of logic leads to limiting driving, period.

    It’s also pretty obvious the research you ref (simple correlation only, remember?) is as crappy as I’ve guess from the beginning, which you don’t deny anymore. At least the researchers themselves are humble enough to chalk it up to a guess, which it is, vs you presenting it as fact.

    I could just as easily guess that it’s a case of just knowing enough to be dangerous. As supporting evidence it doesn’t take much observation that the worst fast/aggressive drivers on the road clearly aren’t highly trained from the lines they take.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Their curricula should therefore change. Perhaps they should simply put the kids into a spin, ask them what would have happened if they had done that on a highway.

    If you look at pch’s own links, you could see that showing students their limits works better, but I guess the man prefers simplistic generalizations.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The risk of doing something is clearly higher than not doing it at all.

    And the point is that drivers should avoid unnecessary risks on public highways.

    Driving on highways is not a sport. The boy racers just aren’t that good at it, and they need to keep their egos in check and stop taking unnecessary risks. Keep your egos confined to a track, where your mistakes can be kept at a distance from the public.

    It’s also pretty obvious the research you ref (simple correlation only, remember?) is as crappy as I’ve guess from the beginning

    You don’t have a single study to support your position. You fling a lot of nonsense at this, because you have no facts to support you. Your “argument” is a rehashing of disproven wishful thinking, built on air.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    PCH,
    That is an interesting statement, but really does not contradict my position. I still believe it is possible for people to learn, that if they know the likely results of their actions then they will on average make better decisions, and that you haven’t pointed to anything that disproves that at all.

    I completely agree with your last paragraph, and I believe it backs me up. All you are saying is that the courses studied haven’t been effective. Great, try again.

    We agree on the root problem, and we both know no one has addressed it in their courses. Also, it doesn’t sound to me like anyone controlled for hoonage either. You taught a bunch of kids how to skid. If they go out and purposely skid, then that’s not an accident anymore than a suicide is a murder. Furthermore, your statement about controlling for selection didn’t state anything about controls. If you teach everyone, you have no control group.

    This stuff flies precisely in the face of what we know about gun training. The better training we give young people on firearms, the less likely they are to be involved in an accidental, or even purposeful shooting event (not counting them using a weapon as intended and legally of course).

    It also flies into the face of aviation training. Your point about the expertise required doesn’t really work with me. Most flying takes little skill or knowledege either. We can teach a monkey to fly an airplane, and that’s not just a story.

    In the end though, your argument supports the idea that automating the task is the better solution, and with that, I agree.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    golden,

    Excellent point. We have trained the public that road signs are most likely in error, or are statements of severe exageration of dangers. They apparently have learned THAT lesson quite well.

    I used to sell software and electronic signs. We found an amazing correlation between compliance, and the genuineness of the information regularly displayed. Organizations that used the signs to inform the readers with salient facts designed to help them better perform got amazing results. Every attempt to manipulate, overstate, hype, or other misuses, along with bad management of the currency of the data, quickly resulted in the boards becoming useless and ignored, if not hated.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    We agree on the root problem, and we both know no one has addressed it in their courses.

    Actually, they do make efforts to address it. These skid control courses cited above were attempting to show their students that skid control is risky enough that the best thing to do is to avoid skidding in the first place.

    It doesn’t help, because putting a car into a slide is confidence building and fun. People respond to the training by feeling better about their car control skills and by taking more chances, only to find that those skids in a controlled environment aren’t duplicated in real life.

    You can see the issue right here in this thread — you have a poster right above us who can’t even comprehend the idea that risk avoidance is supposed to be the goal. Some people believe that risk taking is something to be encouraged or managed through training. That isn’t what the training intends, but it happens, anyway.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Well, we can agree to disagree. I will agree that existing courses may not be effective. According to your academic types though, the personality type you describe is less than a quarter of us.

  • avatar
    TireGuy

    carlisimo :
    March 3rd, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    I have a few friends who’ve lost control (spun out) after dodging someone entering their lane, then overcorrecting. They probably lifted or braked while swinging wildly at the wheel. That IS something that advanced training would help with

    To think that trying to educate 300 mio Americans how to cope with such a situation would be irrealistic. However, with Electronic Stability Program (ESP), the car would not oversteer, and would not loose control. There are good reasons for reasonable drivers training before awarding a license (like we have in Germany). Advanced driver training would be fun, but will never be something for the general public. But making sure that all cars would have ABS and ESP would reduce accidents where drivers loose control considerably.

  • avatar
    Ferrygeist

    Pch101:

    In researching an unrelated subject on this site, I stumbled on an older thread regarding electronic/active safety aids in cars, in which columnist Eric Stepans claims:

    Automotive electronics are also dumbing down drivers through the subtle action of moral hazard…manufacturers give them an electronically expanded safety envelope. Drivers respond to this safety net by driving more aggressively. As a result, the safety benefits of technology are cancelled out by dumber driving.”

    Doesn’t that sound like the technologically induced corollary of your argument?

    Too, in the comments to that column, you said:

    “Most accidents are caused by human error. If you want to reduce accidents, you’re better off focusing on dealing with the humans who create the errors.”

    So if in the current debate you’ve argued that advanced driver’s ed is counter-productive, then what exactly DO you advocate outside of enhanced active safety features in cars? In other words, what exactly does “focusing on dealing with the humans who create the errors” mean, if not some form of behavioral modification?

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-automotive-electronics-pt-2-the-bad/

  • avatar

    Doesn’t that sound like the technologically induced corollary of your argument?

    A columnist opining is not fact.

    The safety record over the past few decades is VERY clear: technology has delivered incredible safety benefits. Sure, drivers may engage in behaviors more risky than baseline. Maybe they go faster, maybe they take curves somewhat more aggressively, etc. But we are still safer.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    And the point is that drivers should avoid unnecessary risks on public highways.

    Which anyone can do by riding the bus. This is the only logical conclusion to that line of thinking.

    Since you can’t seem to comprehend the simple logic, here’s a numeric example, which also btw shows the pathetic nature of sub-social-science studies.

    Say the risk of driving down a standard stretch of road for a untrained person is 0.1%, and 2% for an adverse stretch (per example above). 2% may be considered high, and therefore not driven. Let’s say training lowers the 2% to .5%, and maybe considered acceptable. It’s not a clear decision where the border lies between acceptable risk for reward.

    The way these studies are done is that some low hanging data is set to show some flimsy correlation. To actual break the topic down to show causation is difficult because you’re trying to determine effect at least two stages removed from the training. I haven’t yet seen a single mention of single car vs multi-car training->accidents, even tho that is pretty critical since multi-car training is rare and therefore its effect is logically unaffected. I really doubt if anyone is going to get the kind of funding to do proper research on this stuff since it’s going to be quite a monumental undertaking. Maybe they should at least start with basics like the immediate/direct effects of training with control groups on roads. Good social science is rare enough, nevermind on podunk kind of issues.

    As I’ve said before, it’s easy to fool admin analysts and bureaucrats, which is what these are meant for, by going through motions (ps, use the word hypothesis). There’s a reason why science uses real methodology.

    Your “argument” is a rehashing of disproven wishful thinking, built on air.

    Do you want me to re-list all the other points from the other threads that you keep dodging? I hate to keep repeating myself if there’s not going be any rebuttal.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    In other words, what exactly does “focusing on dealing with the humans who create the errors” mean, if not some form of behavioral modification?

    As I stated in the other post, passive safety and better road design reap benefits. We can see it in the data, and it’s hard to argue with success. Part of the process of addressing human error is creating a framework that compensates for humans who are inclined to screw up, such as brakes that pump themselves and stability systems that keep SUV’s from rolling over.

    As noted here, driver’s education can improve technical skills, but can’t fix attitudes. That’s just reality, and there’s no point in glossing over the facts.

    I would advocate graduate licensing programs that target novice drivers, using restricted provisional licenses and large learners placards to discourage bad behaviors among the riskiest group. Along with DUI drivers, they are the low hanging fruit in the safety debate.

    I would also move the enforcement focus from absolute speed violations (violating the posted limit) in order to encourage lane discipline and to discourage behaviors that tend to cause accidents, such as relative speed violations (speed unsafe for conditions, whether too low and too high), tailgating and failure to use turn signals. Although I doubt that the benefits of this would be substantial, it would work within the context of the overriding goal, namely to eliminate as much unpredictability as possible.

    Which anyone can do by riding the bus. This is the only logical conclusion to that line of thinking.

    To a black-and-white thinker incapable of understanding nuance, that might be true. For the rest of us, it isn’t.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    .
    As noted here, driver’s education can improve technical skills, but can’t fix attitudes.

    So, you’re going to dodge the point again that there’s little difference between the two.

    At at least you admit behavior modification can work, as it is known to work in the whole of behavioral science in general.

    To a black-and-white thinker incapable of understanding nuance, that might be true. For the rest of us, it isn’t.

    Oh that’s just rich coming from someone who proclaims training doesn’t work at all, with the implication that it cannot work.

    The original point is that there is are logical conclusions to reducing accidents in the absolute sense, if that is the only goal instead of overall driver improvement. This ironically came from my unsuccessful attempt to make the argument more nuanced by talking about how these studies are inherently flawed because they have poor controls.

    Speaking of nuance and flaws and studies, are you finally going to admit that all of the studies you ref are lacking? I took a glance at your aussie metastudy above, which seems to be the better one, and saw this little bit you forgot to tell everyone about:

    A seminal research study in this area
    examined 16 controlled studies into the effects of defensive driving courses, mainly operating in the
    USA (Lund & Williams, 1985). While many of the studies had design flaws, the methodologically
    strong evaluations showed reductions in violations, but no consistent effect on crashes.

    So even with lowly sub social science standards, I guess they have to admit these guys have trouble figuring out what they’re doing. Also, since they’re already admitting behavioral modification occurred, maybe those in the field can investigate how that came about.

    Overall it’s too bad tho. It basically concludes everything is more or less consistent with our understand of human behavior (which shows the author has at least read a science book?), and all the other stuff I’ve said since the beginning so I would recommend folk who are interested in the topic to read it.

    There is also quite the funny bit at the end recommending not to base behavioral policy on “common sense” as if it’s the first lecture of a psyc class.


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