By on November 3, 2015

Yesterday, TTAC’s daily news editor Aaron Cole wrote an editorial calling for a new Ralph Nader to arise and save us from our own refusal to make appropriate safety-related automotive choices. I found the article fascinating, not least because one of my first editorials for TTAC was a skeptical look at the benefits of so-called “advanced driver training”. In that editorial, I argued that the decision to purchase a safe car was far more critical to crash survivability than any amount of special training would be. I then proceeded to prove my own point by selling my Phaetons, buying a Lincoln Town Car, and experiencing an incident (direct, high-speed perpendicular impact to my passenger door) that would have been trivial in said Phaetons but which was crippling in the aforementioned Town Car.

Since then, my thoughts on road safety have primarily centered around the idea of risk reduction. I believe that if you cancel or modify your riskiest trips, you’ll see tangible benefits from doing so. I don’t put my son in the car with me unless I have a specific agenda in mind to minimize risk from that trip. My goal is to reduce his exposure, which means no unnecessary trips, no bad-weather trips, and no trips without a plan.

On the other hand, this past year I put about half of my commuting mileage on motorcycles. That tilts my overall risk profile pretty far away from “safe”. It has, however, allowed me a front-row seat for all sorts of traffic incidents and accidents, playing out in full widescreen all around me.

For those reasons, I’m inclined to disagree with Aaron a little bit when it comes to the role of the government and/or quasi-governmental activists to improve vehicle safety. I’ll explain.

Aaron starts his discussion by painting a picture of “increasingly distracted” drivers whose insane desire to juggle apps and social media and Internet access while they drive has made them active menaces to everyone around them. While this is an extremely popular view of current affairs, it is one with almost no evidence to support it. Sure, everybody in your office has a story of somebody who was hit by a “distracted driver”, but in my youth everybody in the office had a story about someone who was “thrown clear” and survived a deadly accident because they were smart enough to not wear those crazy seatbelts.

The most rabidly partisan statistics possible can’t pin more than 3,200 deaths a year on distraction of all types. Your risk of being killed by another driver due to distraction is only eight times or so greater than your risk of being struck by lightning in the United States. You’re more likely to choke to death in any given year than you are to be killed by a distracted driver. Viewed in the context of statistical significance across the entire population of the United States, we should be very nearly as concerned about scorpions and black-widow spiders as we are about distracted driving.

Which is not to say that we should not discourage distracted driving as a society; it’s just not necessarily worth the all-hands-on-deck treatment it’s getting from the auto industry. Truth is that we’re probably at the very top of this fad right now, what with the increasing legality of marijuana and whatnot. My guess is that reefer-madness-style MADD posturing will erase distracted driving from the national consciousness the way that distracted driving has wiped drunk driving off the headlines despite being considerably less deadly.

Aaron then goes on to cite a J.D. Power study that suggests that young drivers are willing to pay $3,703 per car purchase for safety features. The survey itself, however, notes that the $3,703 figure includes all tech items, not just safety tech, and that the desire for “self-healing paint” is as strong as the desire for collision mitigation. Aaron’s suggestion is that all this safety tech should be made mandatory by government decree, since young people would like to have some of it anyway.

It’s true that the American government’s decision to write everything from seatbelts to ABS into law has manifestly helped safety. It’s also true that the government has also supported some pretty bad ideas (third brake lights, “passive” seatbelts that didn’t work as well as standard belts) and forced some iffy compromises into production just shortly before they’d have been standard anyway. The problem is that the low-hanging safety fruit has long been plucked. If the government were to make any of the newest safety technologies mandatory, it would effectively be picking winners — and haven’t we had enough of that, from banks to automakers to guitar builders, in the past decade?

What would an enlightened NHTSA mandate for 2020? Lane-keep assist? Emergency braking? Night vision? If you choose any of those individually, you’re offering a hand up to the automakers who “bet the right way” when developing features. If you mandate them all, you’re still stymied by the fact that all the technologies involved are so infantile as to not have their performance easily quantified. You’re in the position of the Department of Defense making jet-fighter specs in 1939. What would be the minimum specs for Lane-Keep? What if Mercedes-Benz and Honda disagree on how violent the emergency-brake application should be?

From the focus on safety equipment, Aaron bounces back to drivers:

Likewise, even though fatal crashes are proportionately declining, year-over-year, the least-reliable components of cars — drivers — are still the least regulated.

To be safe at any speed, it’s clear that automakers should be held to a higher standard to reduce human interaction or increase driver attention.

The cynic in me wants to yell, “WHAT ABOUT BOTH, HUH? HOW ABOUT MAKING THE WHOLE CAR AUTONOMOUS AND STILL MAKING SOME POOR BASTARD SIT IN THE ‘DRIVER’ SEAT WITH HIS EYES PEELED OPEN LIKE A CLOCKWORK ORANGE AND THE SAME PERIODIC SHOCKS TO THE CORTEX THEY GAVE HARRISON BERGERON? IS THAT ENOUGH?” But then I return to reality. And in the American reality, there is not going to be any improvement in driver’s education, nor will American drivers get any “better”. Save your leather-fetishist fantasies of outrageously expensive Swedish driver’s licenses that include two years’ worth of skidpad training and a mandatory WRC podium. That’s not how America works. It’s also not how Europe will work once the the majority of the population adheres to sharia law. Ask the British how easy it is to get a massive extra-cultural immigrant base to obey homegrown motor-vehicle regulations of any kind.

If the American driver cannot be improved, then he must be stripped of his power to guide the car. Yet that cannot be done — not yet. The autonomous vehicle, as it exists now, is basically a terrified senior citizen. It doesn’t see very well, it isn’t always certain where it is, it has trouble interacting with other traffic in a predictable manner, and it slows down the traffic around it. Its primary virtue, as with a terrified senior citizen, is the low speed at which it operates. So we could obtain all these safety benefits for Americans in a heartbeat by making 25 mph the maximum speed limit off the freeways and 45 mph the limit on limited-access roads. Presto, watch deaths from traffic collisions disappear even as deaths from road-rage murders skyrocket.

But if you insist on using present day, off-the-shelf technology, then autonomous driving is still the technology of the future and it will be for quite some time to come.

So what’s left? How can this tide of traffic-related blood be turned? You know the answer to that: it’s already been turned. Traffic accidents go down every year and fatalities drop even as the population of the country increases, the speed limits go up on toll roads, and the base model family cars come with the same kind of power you got from an IROC-Z in 1988. The existing methodology is sufficient. It works and it will continue to work. New safety systems will appear and the ones that have genuine merit will be incorporated into more new cars and so on and so forth. No massive shock to the system is necessary.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Perhaps an anecdote would help, since some of the fiercest opponents of “distracted driving” love to use them. I was sitting as a passenger in my Accord yesterday, heading up to a motorcycle dealership so I could pick what bike I would buy to celebrate the return to service of my left leg circa Dec 15 or so. Ahead of us, a tractor-trailer threw a massive retread. The car heading for it, also some distance ahead of us, was some sort of Korean CUV. Its driver was looking perhaps ten feet ahead of her front bumper. When she saw the retread, she hauled away at the wheel like she was trying to drift the Titanic around a big ‘berg. Then she hauled away in the other direction.

While I watched in mild amusement, the Santa Fe or whatever it was simply ignored the driver’s commands. Instead, it rapid-braked its way back into stability, zipped around the retread, and continued forward as if nothing had happened. As a motorcyclist who commutes in dense traffic, I can tell you that something very much like this occurs in my immediate vicinity every morning and every evening of my life. Inattentive driver sees something happen ten feet away from her car. She panics. The car figures it out.

The driver, therefore, is a complete idiot. The car is usually not exactly up to Tesla or Rolls-Royce specs. But these two imperfect creatures form a cyborg of sorts. That cyborg is capable of causing fatal accidents at a rate that is low today and declines every year. And when there is a crash, the outstanding passive crash safety of the modern vehicle steps in and delivers an additional measure of safety for everyone involved. Hell, the average luxury sedan today even worries about pedestrians. What more do you want?

The true fact of the matter is that we could best address traffic fatality concerns by giving every driver in America a new Honda Civic or equivalent. Simply updating the fleet to safe, reliable vehicles with ESC and ABS would do wonders that wouldn’t be accomplished in a decade of technology mandates. But who will be the first among us to call for more free stuff? Perhaps we don’t need a new Nader to save lives, but rather a new Marx?

[Image source: Transport Canada]

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140 Comments on “Who Needs Naders? We Have Cyborgs!...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    An interesting article and I’ll certainly agree that most drivers do need help; these are the ones who cause accidents and the ones who tend to drive insurance rates so high. Advanced training might help them, but if they remain habitually ignorant of the driving conditions around them, no amount of training will truly make them safer drivers. There was a short story put out back in the late 60s, early 70s about a driving test that determined an individual’s ability to drive based on their personal responsibility. Interestingly, it was based on a Kobayashi Maru-type of incident. You didn’t pass, you didn’t get your license. Personally, I think the vast majority of today’s drivers would fail that test.

    Conversely, I am strongly opposed to most of today’s safety gadgets. They may be ideal for the intentionally ignorant driver, but they are almost universally an annoyance to a truly skilled driver. Anti lock brakes that don’t know the difference between a four-wheel lockup on ice vs a complete stop on dry or even wet pavement is more dangerous than not having them at all. When the lightest touch on the brake at 15mph can have all four wheels lock up as you slide another 200 feet down the road is damned scary! Pumping the brakes is next to useless as you can’t even be sure the wheels resume rolling under such conditions unless you leave the brake full off for several seconds. How do I know this? I had it happen to me in an ABS car in Delaware one winter after having driven multiple non-ABS cars (and pickup trucks) in Denver with never such a potentially catastrophic slide. The car I was driving was supposedly a ‘performance’ car, but I had literally no feel of the road with ABS.

    ESC is little better, tending to kill power at a time when you may really need it. Rather than transferring power to wheels that have grip, it kills throttle response because ONE wheel slips. Is that good? I don’t think so! I had this happen to me in a JEEP, of all vehicles!. These nannies need to get a lot smarter before I will feel comfortable using them.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      The nannies are there for the lowest common denominator among us.

      • 0 avatar
        carrya1911

        As my screen name implies, I have some familiarity with teaching people to use dangerous equipment. Ingraining correct responses to stimuli that occur in timespans measured in tenths of seconds takes a considerable amount of training…and even when exposed to that sort of training it takes considerable repetition to drill it to the point of an automatic response in a crisis moment.

        The “lowest common denominator among us” is, in fact, *the overwhelming majority of the driving public.* Few people have practiced techniques like threshold braking with anything approaching the number of repetitions required to produce it in the critical few seconds where avoiding a hazard is possible.

        Jack’s point about attention is dead on the money, and for more than just driving. When questioned, crime victims routinely say that their assailant “came out of nowhere” when in fact he likely approached from considerable distance. They were simply unaware of it because they were not actively scanning their environment for a potential threat where they would have noticed his approach. People do not drive much more carefully than they walk, in my experience.

        The safety systems like traction control, stability control, and ABS are by no means perfect in every situation for a supremely well trained driver…but even very well trained people screw up because it is impossible to engineer human nature out of human behavior. People get tired, distracted, or are otherwise not operating at their peak efficiency and it is then that having an extra layer of protection improves the outcome even for the people who have acquired exceptional levels of skill and experience.

        For the vast, overwhelming majority those “nannies” are going to compensate for lack of skill, experience, and the mental ability to process what’s happening at the speeds of accidents. (Becoming accustomed to intelligently processing what is going on and responding appropriately at those speeds also takes considerable training)

        It is possible to identify some very low probability situations where poorly designed systems can potentially cause problems, but in the vast, overwhelming majority of cases they are going to radically improve outcomes.

        I’ve been to a couple of BMW’s driving schools, including the M school. It was very common to hear students complain that driving with the “nannies” on was slowing them down. The instruction has periods of time when the traction and stability controls are completely disabled…and it’s pretty easy to see when this happens because invariably 2/3rds of the cars come back to the garage after having spun out of control and gone through the grass.

        …and this is among people who were willing to invest the time and money into taking driver training that vastly exceeds the minimum requirements of any driver’s license in the country. Most of them what we would consider enthusiasts.

        I’m not the lowest common denominator, nor do I possess the skills of an accomplished racer. I’m happy to have the “nannies” in place on my car for the occasions when I’m not operating at peak performance or when I’m trying to operate the machine under extremely unfamiliar circumstances even though my “bandwidth” for thinking through a problem at speed is far in excess of what the average person possesses.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          But will each new generation of drivers become dumber and dumber??

          I agree the “nannies” are good thing over all, and the *next best thing* to practical or tactical training/knowledge behind the wheel. Or simply they’re a solution to driver’s inattentiveness, followed by bad mistakes. I see it as a shame and a failure, that we need them so much, as a society and driving public.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I saw a map of traffic fatalities for my area, and no matter how much I looked failure to stop at red or stop sign kept being the leading cause, whether vehicle vs. pedestrian, vehicle, bicycle… didn’t seem to change much, the in town deaths are failure to stop. On the highway I saw crossing center take the lead, but it’s not as many deaths as in town intersections.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      As regards the article photo, it is from ALKO’s testing and development plant in Melbourne Australia. ALKO and Dexter US have merged to form the biggest suspension business Globally.
      Why a Holden Commodore pulling a TT? German ALKO has the bulk of their sales in Europe, where cars pull TT’s

  • avatar
    probert

    ” Aaron starts his discussion by painting a picture of “increasingly distracted” drivers whose insane desire to juggle apps and social media and Internet access while they drive has made them active menaces to everyone around them. While this is an extremely popular view of current affairs, it is one with almost no evidence to support it.”

    Coming from a motorcycle rider this is a pretty shocking statement that goes against everything I see every time I ride. The difference between a distracted driver and a drunk is that the drunk know something is wrong.

    All I can say is good luck on the bike – really – good luck.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      Jack is absolutely right on distracted driving studies. Studies have compared neighboring states which introduced anti-texting and anti-hands on laws at different times, and there was zero correlation to any reduction in traffic accidents. One study even found a mild increase, possibly related to drivers now holding their phones down low out of sight instead of up by the wheel, thus decreasing their outside awareness.

      Data is not the plural of anecdote. People can certainly make mistakes and fudge statistics, but at least those studies were reasonably impartial and peer reviewed, unlike your personal experience, which is probably more confirmation bias — you noticed only what you were looking for, and do not remember that which you were not looking for.

      Next time you go for a cruise, look at each driver and note whether they are texting or using a hands-on phone, instead of only noticing drivers who caught your attention.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    “The autonomous vehicle, as it exists now, is basically a terrified senior citizen.”
    Perfect analogy, and of course what their passengers will be as well, safely ferried between doctor visits and early bird dinners.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I wish I could put my mother in one right now. She is intensely independent and wants/needs to drive, but she’s terrified of today’s hectic traffic despite the fact that she now drives one of the biggest cars on the road. (Couldn’t put her into a smaller one if I had to.)

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Really, as far as interstate driving goes, I’m not sure what you’d call Lane-Keeping Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control (with full braking capability) other than “autonomous driving”. I mean, once you enable both of those, all you truly HAVE to do is listen for the GPS to announce your exit is coming up.

    That said, I’m not advocating we actually use these (current) technologies in that way at this point. Those techs aren’t going to do important things like spot a tractor-trailer trying to change lanes and drop back to give it room, or change lanes to let in a line of traffic trying to merge.

  • avatar
    benders

    I feel like your article loses a little punch when you extol the virtues of ESC (which by drags ABS along almost by necessity) in modern cars – something that was mandated by NHTSA.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      FALSE — Wikipedia says ESC was developed by private industry as options decades before the NHTSA mandated it beginning in 2012.

      The same applies to ABS, and I bet every single other safety advance.

      • 0 avatar
        benders

        And so were seat belts and airbags and basically everything that Nader campaigned for. I said nothing about who invented ESC, only that it’s required equipment for cars sold in the US.

        Jack’s whole article is that further activism and government mandates aren’t necessary; I’m merely pointing out that his championing of ESC as a reason not to encourage mandated collision avoidance rings a little hollow because there would be modern cars without ESC if NHTSA hadn’t mandated it.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          ESC was mandated because the only cars left that didn’t have it were base model econoboxes. The reason they didn’t have it wasn’t cost (it’s just software plus a 50 cent accelerometer ), it was marketing.

          No company had to tool-up or do any R&D, all they had to do was stop cheating their poorest customers as much. If anything it saved them money because they had one less software version to maintain.

          • 0 avatar
            ScarecrowRepair

            A perfect example of elitist statist thinking. The State must do the thinking because businesses are too dumb to realize they will save money, while at the same time, businesses are such greedy rapscallions that all they think of is money.

            Consistency never has been a hallmark of statist thinking.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            ScarecrowRepair,

            Having minimum standards isn’t necessarily statist. Arguably, it started with guilds.

            I guess having any standards at all is technically elitist, but I’m not sure what your point is. Is the fact that we have agreed-upon weights and measures elitist as well? Should everyone be allowed to have their own version of a yard or a pound in order to confound oppressive elitist statist thinking?

            I think that this sort of thinking is a dead giveaway of an elitist upbringing (aka: too much spare time).

        • 0 avatar
          ScarecrowRepair

          Yes, let’s raise the price of cars so that the poorest can’t afford them. About as intelligent as raising the minimum wage so the not-so-skilled that still have jobs get more money, while the least skilled have no jobs at all.

          • 0 avatar
            BDT

            The poorest already can’t afford cars.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            As long as the bureaucrats doing the raising, as well as the industry “experts” they consult with, can afford them; what’s the problem? Heck, they even get to brag to their progtard circle that “their” government made Americans more Eurolike and sophistemecated, since the bus riding population is higher than it would otherwise be.

            Nader was correct in assuming Corporations only look out for themselves. But failed to see that so does everyone else. Especially Politicians, Apparatchiks and Lawyers. So “the poor”/”the public”/”the people”/whatever is still screwed by corporations. The only difference is he’s now screwed by the rest of the scum as well.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    “reefer-madness-style MADD posturing”

    Anyone who thinks the people of MADD are “posturing” is a baruth.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I lol’d at this.

    • 0 avatar
      cantankerous

      As the coworker of a man whose college-age son was killed by a drunk driver, I’m disappointed (or should that be disgusted?) at Jack’s characterization of MADD members as “posturing.”

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        @cantakerous I too, once worked with a parent whose child was killed, this time the man’s college age daughter, who was killed in an accident where her date, the son of a high ranking DC official, was driving while drunk. The kid got off with something like a six month suspended license and some mandatory driving classes.

        MADD has done many good things, especially in the area of consciousness raising among the general population. But I also did some work for a governmental systems effort that caused me to have to interact with some of the leadership of that similar group.

        While the rank and file of that organization had legitimate reasons to be aggrieved and to demand changes in the law, I also saw people in leadership roles for whom their cause was first and foremost a meal ticket.

        So it seems to me that Jack was probably responding to those who capitale on the issue, rather than those who have lost someone near and dear to them as a result of drunk driving.

        Don’t forget that among other things, MADD was responsible for roadside stops, including searches and seizures, without a warrant.

        And there is evidence, though not widely publicized, that if the expenditures and human resources were redirected towards patrolling for, and arresting visibly drunk drivers, that there would be a much greater saving of lives. But the MADD platform insists on roadside stops and warrantless searches, primarily for their publicity value, keeping the issue on the public’s mind.

        While I can see why their leadership would want that, it seems crass and contradictory, that they would prefer what is essentially publicity for their organization, over effective efforts that acutally get more drunk drivers off the road.

        And given the number of cases every year where it comes out that an overzealous law enforcemtn official has planted evidence and/or lied under oath to obtain a conviction where they felt that they had the right person, this is in direct contravention to our constitution and Bill of Rights.

        And yes, I know and believe that the majority of LEO officers are clean and do dangerous work, there are also people who have been found innocent, when crooked cops were found out.

        So no, I don’t believe that if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t mind being stopped.

        When LE finds a way to make sure that NO dishonest cops are working for them, perhaps I might not mind. But in a real world, I still want my constitutional rights, than you very much.

        In my neck of the woods, DUI stops are non-existent, yet the local newsrag reports several people each week who were stopped while driving erratically, and were found to either be drunk or to have drugs on them or in their car. So the drunk drivers get taken off the road without the need to stop all citizens to shake them down for any and everything they can.

        At one point, they were even measuring tire tread during traffic stops, with warning tickets requiring proof of correction within X days, at DUI stops. Thouogh to its credit, there was enough of a backlash among the public to put a stop to what was essentially a fund-raising effort having little or nothing to do with drunk driving.

        So I would say that yes, MADD is overly zealous, and some of its leaders know this, but continue to pretend that the stops are a good thing, even though they know better. And that is adopting a posture, which is the definition of posturing.

        So I am offended by drunk drivers, offended by the systems that let them off with a slap on the wrist, and in favor of continuing to crack down on drunk drivers. But I am not in favor of mandatory checkpoints, and I too find that the posturing of MADD leadership that we NEED checkpoints is also offensive to me.

        So I don’t think that being opposed to MADD leadership’s way of doing things makes Jack, or anyone else, in favor of drunk driving.

        When MADD leadership starts calling for the redeployment of checkpoint resources to anti-DD potrols, I will say that they are no longer posturing. Until then, their continued support of checkpoints is a posture, and not a legitimate anti-DD advocacy.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Non-fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers have non-trivial costs that are socialized through insurance, for instance. Thus, distracted driving may not appear to be significant in terms of fatal auto accidents, but I argue that distracted driving is certainly contributing to non-fatal accidents and the financial consequences of those accidents are paid by all drivers to a greater or lesser extent.

    I thought Aaron’s article was stupid, frankly. But I can’t deny that the number of erratic drivers I encounter on a daily basis that are confirmed by me to be using a phone while driving has increased.

    This is a risk management issue with real costs which gives me no hope for any rational resolution. We’ll keep spending bad money on garbage because stupids comprise the majority and the idea that people are smart enough (or responsible enough) to govern themselves is a joke. Empiricism demonstrates otherwise almost invariably.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    I know this is somewhat anecdotal, but cracking down on the use of cell phones while driving, texting and so forth would help reduce the accident rate. In my everyday driving I see many people driving with one hand on the steering wheel and the other holding the damn cell phone by their ear. I’ve seen people run red lights while using the cell phone; one day just as the light turned green and I was getting ready to go a lady talking away on her cell phone ran the light. I hit my brakes and the horn, I’m not sure if she heard the horn, she just continued on her merry way.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    All of this talk about autonomous cars is fun and everything, but it’s more than a little premature. The stuff isn’t ready yet.

    As for distracted driving, it’s erroneous to presume that the alternative is necessarily better. If the driver who is distracted by a phone opts to be distracted by something else or to be more aggressive, then there may not be no net improvement in crash rates.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      I believe that social media/texting is it’s own special addiction that is unlike other distractions, and the rush or high users get from it overrides concern for personal safety and driving.

      We all know people who just can’t put their phone down long enough focus on driving, watch a movie, or have a conversation. They stare at their iphone in rapture and furiously text, swipe, and share long past when their eyes glaze over. Normally this is not a big deal, but when these people are driving paying attention to the what is happening on the road is a distant second priority.

      It really is a new level of distraction, it is pervasive, and arguably getting worse. Having said that, I can’t think of a legal or regulatory solution that would really make any difference.

      FWIW, last week my wife was stuck in traffic and watched in her rear view mirror as a 20 year old rear ended her while texting. In turn a third car driven by a 78 year old rear ended that car. The innocent being impacted by the distracted AND the elderly: it was perfect example of what Jack was writing about.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You folks keep assuming that a driver who is not distracted by a phone will be a better driver without one.

        The University of Utah finds that drivers who put down their phones drive faster, make more lane changes and reduce following distance. Those are all negative factors from a safety perspective.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          I do believe that a driver who is not distracted by their phone (or anything else) will be a better driver; that is intuitively logical. The average driver who is paying attention to the road and not their phone will be a better and safer driver. The worse than average driver is an even greater menace with a smart phone in hand.

          Virtually all of us see drivers somewhat to completely distracted by their phones in a way that food, kids, or the radio does not; they are so captivated by their phones that the forget they are driving. It is a different, deeper level of distraction, and it is more dangerous.

          Unfortunately, that is an observation without a solution.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            As I noted, it’s a mistake to presume that the alternative to distraction is inherently superior. You’re assuming too much.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            The alternative to distraction is usually impatience.
            One’s undistracted focus then becomes driving like a complete azzhole to get somewhere fast.

            I see it all of the time. Jack rabbit starts and stops, aggressive lane changes, running lights and stop signs just to gain a car length on some guy who pissed you off by actually following the rules of the road.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        @Toad – It all come down to prioritizing tasks done simultaneously. If running your chainsaw takes a backseat to staring at your phone, selfie, facie or other, when getting to a crucial part of the cut, enjoy your new prosthetic leg.

  • avatar
    ckb

    Timely. I found a black widow spider in my garage last weekend so yes, I am concerned about them indeed.

    And don’t get me started on the immigrants! Those dirty potato eatin Irish are ruining our good protestant wimmin!

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I agree with one of the emerging threads from yesterday’s article, and mentioned by Vulpine above. I’m all for better passive safety systems, but I don’t personally find modern electronic trickery such as ESC to have ever helped me out. Killing power when you need it, not knowing where I actually want to go. In theory, if you keep calm and manage to point the steering wheel where you want to go, ESC might be able to help, but what panicked driver is giving the computer the info it needs?

    I don’t really understand how Jack’s story above worked, if the freaked out CUV driver was not sure what to do, I don’t see how the computer could “figure it out”.

    Lastly, ESC in Canada/snow country is useless without proper tires. You could have the hand of GOD controlling each tire individually but if there is no grip, it wont make a difference. Please, Canada, follow in Quebec’s footsteps (said by me never prior to this) and legislate winter tires as mandatory. It wont make people better drivers but at least it gives these fancy systems a chance to work.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      ESC has reduced the SUV fatality rate by decreasing the number of one-car crashes. The vehicles with ESC are more likely to lose control and have rollover crashes.

      I haven’t seen data on it, but I doubt that ESC has done much for passenger cars, given their lower centers of gravity.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        davefromcalgary – agreed.
        Stability control has gotten me into trouble several times. I have been in the back country under more extreme conditions and ESC was disabled but I went fast enough to reactivate it. Once when I was driving through a 1 1/2 feet or so of snow climbing a long hill with a bend in it. ESC thought I was in trouble so cut power and did the brake application tap dance. I lost all forward momentum and had to back down the hill. Luckily it was remote so no one else was behind me. Another time was this summer and I was running up an old grassy overgrown wet and muddy cut block road. It was a similar scenario. Up hill with a corner. Some drifting is to be expected. The nannies kicked in and I was forced to back down.

        Another problem is moving over into deep snow or slush on the side of the road to allow room for a larger on-coming vehicle. This is very common on industrial roads. The trick is to apply some throttle and add extra steering input to counter the extra resistance. ESC thinks you are understeering out of control and chops power and does the brake dance. I’ve never been put in the ditch but I’ve talked to several fellows who have been.

        Another situation is merging onto a highway or road when slippery. I used to encounter this taking my kids to school. My truck even though I have 400 lb of gear in the box would occasionally exhibit slight oversteer as I hit the highway. The nannies would think I was loosing the back end and cut power and apply brakes. What would normally be controlled by a deliberate power application to gently drift out of the slide would turn into an abrupt and choppy ESC correction.

        I can cite other examples but in each case it happens to be more at the extremes of driving. The system works fine under more “normal” situations. Even with my personal experience I have to disagree with Vulpine when one says there should be less nannies even for the “skilled” driver.

        I’d like o have the option to shut the crap off when I know I’m in situations that will confuse it but how many drivers out there have the experience or skill to know where their system is a hindrance?

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          Yup, nothing like trying to get/stay moving in snow, and your engine is bogging and your brakes are jittering away.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The Lexus ESC in the GS was particularly aggressive. You get three clicks and a light as it gives you a chance to fix what you’re doing and cut back at the pedal.

            Then it kills the pedal entirely, no matter what you do to it. You must let off fully for 2-3 seconds, the light will go off, and you can try again.

            Got me in trouble more than once in the snow, to where a couple times I put it in snow mode and shut the ESC/Traction off.

            (Oops, typo in “shut” initially, sorry bout that.)

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I would go with that, Lou_BC, as long as it did have the capability to be either completely shut off or change the parameters under which it activates. Vehicles specifically built for severe applications need some means of determining when you’re under those conditions. With a manual 4×4 system, if you’re in 4×4 mode you’re probably in those conditions. A vehicle with a computer-controlled AWD system simply isn’t meant for extreme driving.

          Yes, I am including vehicles like the Jeep Renegade in that argument. It may be capable in dry conditions, but mud and snow on the trail is very probably beyond its abilities. So, such nannies would be prudent. But not on a purpose-built 4×4 actually running in 4×4 mode.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Vulpine – when in the backcountry alone I prefer not to run in 4×4. It keeps me more honest and cautious. I then use 4×4 to get me out of trouble. It has worked well for me over the decades. I’ve been stuck bad enough times to learn my lesson.
            I’d like to see similar electronic setting like what is in the Raptor available in other pickups.

            Most 4×4 trucks will disable nannies up to 55 mph but only in 4lo but who in their right mind drives up to 55 mph in 4lo?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Why just pickup trucks, Lou? Why not all purpose-built 4x4s? There are other vehicles out there built for back-country work that aren’t pickups.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Correcting a typo above: The vehicles **without** ESC are more likely to lose control and have rollover crashes.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Single vehicle winter roll over mvc’s used to be almost exclusively SUV’s. I don’t see as much of that. Brodozers have taken up the slack left open by SUV’s.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Honestly, Pch101, is there data to support that statement? I fully remember WHY ESC was mandated (Seems the Ford Expedition had an issue with bad tires) but I haven’t heard where EXC has had any notable effect on accidents of any kind that weren’t resolved by putting the proper tires under the vehicle in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          That was the Explorer you’re thinking of, but the principle was correct. The whole Firestone-Exploder debacle seems like it was equal parts Firestone’s fault for making bad tires and not disclosing it, Ford’s fault for selling people tip-happy SUVs when they knew the people had no business driving anything taller than a Focus, and the consumer’s fault for not knowing how to correct an SUV when the tires blow.
          Firestone solved their fault by not making defective tires. Ford solved their fault by eventually making CUVs rather than SUVs. The consumers got their fault solved for them by the gov’t. adding mandatory ESC. Everybody’s happy!

          …Well, no, nobody’s ever happy, apparently, but the issue was more-or-less put to bed, and sometimes that the best you can hope for.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Drzhivago138 – IIRC it was discovered that engineers wanted to make the Explorer wider but was shut down by bean counters over the extra cost. That was part of the reason why Ford got hit hard by litigation.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’ll accept that correction, Doc; but it makes the point that the ESC is simply an unnecessary nanny that seems to do more harm than good.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I’m perfectly neutral when it comes to ESC. I think it’s good in some cases, and I like having a button that can turn it off. But if other people don’t like it at all, I’m not gonna argue much.

            As for the width issue, I would’ve thought that it wasn’t feasible to widen the vehicle because until 2002, the Explorer was still based on the 70″-wide compact Ranger. Moving to a unique mid-size platform in 2002 helped a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      “I don’t really understand how Jack’s story above worked, if the freaked out CUV driver was not sure what to do, I don’t see how the computer could ‘figure it out’.”

      I can think of several people who lost control of their cars in the pre-ESC days when they tried to dodge another car merging into them. Swing into the left lane, overcorrect while braking or at least letting off the gas, lose the rear and fly across the right lanes and roll into the ditch. (Okay, only a couple of my friends rolled – they were in a minivan and small pickup, respectively. They were unharmed.)

      The same hand movements with ESC don’t cause the rears to let go. It’s great.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        carlisimo – the vehicle does not “figure out” what to do but mitigates the ham-fisted inputs from the driver. The strategic application of braking to various drive wheels as well as power modulation would reduce the risk of a roll over or oversteer and/or understeer. it would even reduce the risk of locking up the wheels with full on foot to the floor brake application.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Well, if the driver is the most dangerous part of a new car, improve the driver. Compulsory driver training, and not that high school stuff either. I mean advanced, hands on, driver training.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “Advanced” driver training yields more aggressive drivers who are more likely to crash.

      • 0 avatar
        NeilM

        @Pch101: Really? Every single kind of advanced driver training yields more aggressive and accident prone drivers? Fascinating – let’s see your data.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Efforts to make novice drivers drive more safely on slippery roads by means of special courses have mainly failed. In order to understand why the courses have failed, the views of instructors and students on the goals of skid training courses were compared. The importance given to anticipating vs manoeuvring skills was analysed. After completing a skid training course, students in four Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) assessed manoeuvring skills to be equally important to anticipating skills in the courses. However, instructors assessed anticipating skills to be more important than manoeuvring skills. The differences between the assessments of instructors and students were the same in all four countries. Manoeuvring exercises are widely used in the courses although the main purpose of these courses is to develop anticipating skills. The exercises may give students the impression that manoeuvring skills are more important than anticipating skills. Manoeuvring exercises also increase their self-confidence and may lead to underestimation of the risks involved, resulting in e.g. driving at higher speed.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9006647
          _______

          This illustrates the basic problem. Most of you think that safe driving is automotive ballet, with fancy footwork and maneuvering, but it isn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That’s because it’s -fun- to make it sound/feel like it’s a fancy ballet of maneuvering.

            It’s natural to give yourself a big pat on the back when something potentially dangerous happens and you successfully avoid it. Think about all the times an accident almost happened, but you did a maneuver and avoided it.

            Afterward, your brain goes “Wow, that was pretty fracking sweet. I’m awesome.”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            That’s right. A driver who has a lot of near-misses is a poor driver. Yet the driver who has those near-misses invariably blames the other guy instead of accepting his own role in putting himself into those situations, and regards himself as being superior because the crash didn’t happen.

            And when he does crash, then it will be the other guy who was to blame. It’s always someone else’s fault.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I don’t think you can paint that with that broad a brush.

            Consider situations where you’re on the road somewhere and someone decides to run their red light. You swerve and avoid a T-bone, or catch the brakes in time.

            Someone’s about to rear end you, perhaps on ice – you see it coming and get into another lane or scoot forward.

            Noticing the tire de-treading in front of you, and backing clear away.

            Which one of those is the driver in question to receive the blame? None. Sometimes/often, other people are the problem, and your near-miss would’ve been a crash if not for your own quick thinking and attention.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Safe driving is about anticipation and risk avoidance. If you are constantly having near-misses, then it is probably because you took too many risks in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ok, ignore what I said and restate what you said initially if that works for you.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Situations in which each driver didn’t contribute to the problem are rare, including many circumstances when the law holds only one party responsible. The exceptions are, well, exceptions.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Pch101 – thanks for finding the study.

            I do agree that near misses often are due to the fact that one did not spot the evolution of an incident.
            My dad was a commercial trucker for the latter part of his life. He used to say that driving a vehicle is easy but figuring out what is going to happen around you is the hard part. He used to say that was 99% of driving.
            If I look at my near misses most were due to a lapse in attention on my part or over-driving. I had one close call with a deer this summer and since it was dawn I should of been driving more slowly because I know that is when “critter tag” is more likely to occur.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Advanced driver training saved my life.

          The driver was a seventeen year old male. I was one of five passengers in some Detroit big iron convertible…siting right behind the driver, who was the least coordinated of all of us, the JETS (Jr. Engineering and Tech Society) clique in HS.

          We were running from one HS gym to the other HS gym one Friday night, when an oncoming car swerved over the centerline ahead of us on a high crown road.

          The driver swerved off the road to avoid a headon collision, then began sliding sideways, threatening to roll the whole thing over, towards his and my side of the car.

          Since we were only going about thirty or forty mph at that time, I contemplated jumping out of the car before it rolled, then realized that whether it rolled or not, it would be coming straight towards me.

          Only way out was for him to not roll the car.

          Although he was very uncoordinated, he had an older sister who drove an Austin Healey 3000-6, and drove it welll. Knew how to doubleclutch, heel and toe, steer into the skid, all the performance stuff. Made me wish she was my age instead of ten years older.

          Fortunately, the had taught the uncoordinated driver some fundamentals of advanced driving, including steering into the skid. Which is what he instinctively did, when he felt the car skidding.

          And since he did, the car skidded to a stop without rolling. Thereby saving my life, which would have been over if he had not steered into the skid.

          Performance driving may sometimes lead to overconfidence. But at other times, it can be a matter of life and death, clearly coming down on the side of life.

          None of us could believe that the driver, of all of us, would have known to steer into the skid. But when he told us about his sister teaching him this, just in case…well, I certainly believe in the value of such training. And my son is getting his dose of skid training as well, as soon as we get some snow. And for the same reason.

          I don’t believe for a minute that it is going to make him want to start trying to skid on the highway…but it just might save his life sometime, when some other driver forces him into a bad position on the road.

          So believe what you want about driving skills above and beyond perception and awareness…I am all for that, but for skill training as well. All the perceptual awareness in the world wouldn’t have prevented that other car from coming over the center line just in front of us. But the skid training saved my life.

          You can believe what you want, at your own peril. But the antidote to overconfidence is not less skill training, it is more awareness training of what can go wrong, coupled with the knowledge of the limits of skills in saving us.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Never mind Pch101’s junk stats.

            There’s only a split second to not panic, and figure out how to avoid a crash. With past skid, crash avoidance experience/training, you’ve developed instincts that kick in automatically, when the inexperienced will just panic, even if they’ve read about, and told what to do.

            Point is, you need to be comfortable sliding a car around, and that can only come from past experience and or training.

            “Steer into the skid” is a good general rule, but that may point the car toward whatever you want to avoid, maybe a tree, etc. With the car sliding, you may want to steer toward the only exit and even get off the brakes and back on the gas, then back on the brakes.

            When a car starts to oscillate, letting off the gas may be the LAST thing you want to do. And letting go of the steering wheel may be the thing TO DO!

            I have no practical “training” except the 1st thing we did as new drivers was head to the empty parking lot and intentionally put the car into a skid or spin, repeatedly until we knew it inside out and backwards. And with marginal results in the beginning, but you could say, amateur stunt drivers. We had a blast doing it too!

            Except there’s a practical side to it.

            And as kids, we looked up to James Garner doing his own stunts and had to learn the “Rockford” straight off. Paul Newman too. “Reverse 180”, Forward 180, you get the picture.

            Advanced driving isn’t a skill that comes naturally, but drive a million miles and it’ll eventually pay off. It’s saved me from a lot of crashes and probably saved someone’s life, including my own.

      • 0 avatar
        VolandoBajo

        The safety gospel as written by pch101: only teach new drivers where the controls are. Otherwise they will think that they know what they are doing, and will end up having more accidents. And make sure that they use a telephone, as this will cause them to slow down, reduce lane changes, and increase distance. That way, they will have less accidents than if they aren’t using a cellphone.

        If we could only get him hired by NHTSA, we could have a whole new era in automotive safety!

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “I mean advanced, hands on, driver training.”

      For each and every little binge-drinking, single-parented, impoverished, illiterate, device-conditioned zero attention span, teenaged breeding hamster out there? Who pays for that?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m not sure why we would pay money to create more aggressive drivers.

        The Finns tried skidpad training. The result that it made male drivers more confident and more likely to crash. Not a great idea.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          For the past two days you have been hanging your every post on this exceedingly thin reed:

          Training in a skill increases confidence to the point that execution of tasks employing that skill suffers.

          Let’s extrapolate on that – eliminating the pathetic level of textbook and hands-on training we get now will make everyone much safer drivers. Agreed?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Driver training helps to teach technical skills to those who lack them, such as steering and braking.

            It is far more difficult to fix the personality characteristics that lead to overconfidence, a lack of risk version and the tendency to blame the other guy.

            You seem to think that arguing with me is going to change this. I’m simply noting what’s in the research that you apparently aren’t inclined to find and read. It’s readily available if you’re genuinely interested.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          Young males are a nuisance anyway, behind the wheel. But the young female trained on a skidpad would have even less crashes. Except as they both age, drivers trained on a skidpad would do better and crash less than regular drivers without advanced training.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Pch101, I don’t want to FIX (as in “remedy”) those characteristics…I’m more interested in identifying them and keeping them off of the road.

            Tell you what – if I ever do become interested enough in the research to get into it in any depth, I’ll be very surprised if the takeaway is that we need to turn driver training and licensing into even more of a neglected backwater than it is now.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Those personality characteristics are normal. Most people have them. If a lack of overconfidence and an understanding of risk management were requirements for driving, then virtually no one would have a license and most of you would be riding the bus.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          pch101 thinks we are creating aggressive drivers by training them. Once he gets rid of driver training, if there are still accidents involving new drivers, especially if they occur at a higher rate than with experienced drivers, he is going to want to reduce their aggression further.

          And since we all know that the way to reduce aggression in a male dog is to have it neutered, he is going to want to make castration a requirement for a learners permit, since saving lives is obviously more important that a few nuts to him.

          I don’t want to run afoul of Godwin’s law, though I will skirt dangerously close to it. People get tagged with a label of “safety nazi” for a reason.

          It is scary, the kind of things pch101 will advocate in order to increase safety and reduce accidents, all of it without the burden of anything other than studies that only tangentially touch on the subject matter.

          I think I’m going to go out and buy a small pickup, practice driving it in the snow with only rudimentary driver training, and then pick up a cellphone to use, in order to avoid dangerous driving habits. That way, even though he doesn’t like people who drive small pickups, at least I will be doing all I can to improve safety, comforted by the knowledge that all of these things pass pch101’s criteria for less accidents.

          Oh, and then I am going to run down to Hobby Lobby to buy a model of my new truck, as I want to support their right to obey their conscience and their religious beliefs. That out to set pch101 off right well.

          Then I think I’ll post some solid evidence from economic theory to show how the chicken tax inevitably had altered both buying and manufacturing habits, just to counter pch101’s ill-informed opinion that tariffs have no effect on either purchases or manufacturing, since according to him, if you wanted a small truck, you will still buy a small truck, and won’t notice or won’t mind, paying several thousand dollars more to the government, since we all know that government needs that money to do all the good things it wants to do for us taxpayers, but needs more money to be able to afford. Though I can’t for the life of me understand why they would need that money, since they can already just go ahead and print more. And I have it on pch’s good authority that won’t have an inflationary effect, because nobody bothers to notice how much money there is out there, as long as they get some. And on that one, he may be at least half right, or close to it.

          Let’s do the time warp again.

          Living is easy, when you get to make up your own assumptions about how things work, as pch does.

          He must be right about the rest of us, that we just don’t get his logic. On that, we can surely agree…

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        RideHeight – “For each and every little binge-drinking, single-parented, impoverished, illiterate, device-conditioned zero attention span, teenaged breeding hamster out there?”

        I thought you were going to caption “Spay/neuter clinic” not “I mean advanced, hands on, driver training.”

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I was eagerly awaiting JB’s rebuttal, and this does not disappoint. I would dearly love to see the pareto principle applied to safety expenditures. not looking forward to the mandated limits on crispy sweet salty fat, but… that’s where the low hanging … I can’t call fast food fruit.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “The most rabidly partisan statistics possible can’t pin more than 3,200 deaths a year on distraction of all types.”

    It’s not all the deaths the texting and apps cause, it’s fender benders. If there were some credible statistics for those types of minor accidents, I’d bet they have skyrocketed since about 2008 when smartphones became mainstream.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Perhaps, but there’s a concurrent reduction in driver aggression when stuck in traffic.

      Ten years ago, being stuck in traffic got people so angry they did rash and often deadly things.

      Today, everybody takes out their phones.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      “It’s not all the deaths the texting and apps cause, it’s fender benders. If there were some credible statistics for those types of minor accidents, I’d bet they have skyrocketed since about 2008 when smartphones became mainstream.”

      A few people have stated this, but I’ve seen zero data to support it. Anyone care to take a stab at that?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think it’d be very difficult to collect such data. It’s not reported anywhere other than insurance company reports really. And even then, half of them get resolved via personal check/etc. and don’t make it to the insurance company’s file.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    “And in the American reality, there is not going to be any improvement in driver’s education, nor will American drivers get any “better”. Save your leather-fetishist fantasies of outrageously expensive Swedish driver’s licenses that include two years’ worth of skidpad training and a mandatory WRC podium. That’s not how America works.”

    In America, since the common mode of transportation is the automobile, driving is not a privilege, it is a regulated natural right, and this would be draconian in its regulation so that we might even get a SC ruling throwing out such extreme training programs, especially if you could slip in disparate impact.

    From the rights of English free men, we get the right of transportation unmolested when doing nothing wrong.

    It’s why the Soviet Union required you to get a pass from your local soviet council to leave town and required you to sign in with the local soviet in the new town – they expressly curtailed the natural right of freedom of movement.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    You are too pessimistic about the timeframe for robot cars.

    Ten years from now, they are going to be commercially available, and they aren’t going to drive like a half-blind granny or crap out in bad weather (except possibly for snowstorms).

    I’m 39. I think within my lifetime major highways and central cities will be autonomous-only.

    And that is really what is going to solve our safety problem. Current steps are positive but, no, they aren’t working. Don’t focus only on accidents proven to be caused by distraction; those aren’t the only dead people. Focus on all the accidents, still causing around 35,000 dead people a year. That’s a big problem — our biggest non-medical public health problem — and it needs more than an incremental solution.

    By the way, I think you may be giving the Phaeton too much credit. Yes, you were hit in a way that exposed a major Panther weakness, but that would have been a serious accident in any car.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Every year, I load up the Family Truckster and drive my family someplace great on the Interstate highway system that my fellow Americans and I already bought and paid for. It’s the highlight of my year, and I’m not going to stop, and I’m not going to shell out $40K for a new vehicle when the old human-driven one works just fine.

      I sincerely hope that if the day ever comes when our government tells us we must buy autonomous vehicles or stop using our highways, there will be massive revolt.

      • 0 avatar
        SunnyvaleCA

        >>> government tells us we must buy autonomous vehicles <<<

        I think that autonomous vehicles, when they become popular, will make regular driving absolutely miserable due to drastically increased traffic congestion. With a mix of autonomous vehicles, non-autonomous vehicles, pedestrians, and other road hazards, I think autonomous vehicles will drive in a slow and scared fashion. The effect will be that traffic runs much less smoothly in general. This will cause a switchover to autonomous vehicles: your half-hour morning commute will become an hour due to slow traffic, so you might as well join the band-wagon and get an autonomous car so you can do something else while commuting.

        For many people the "cost" of driving isn't the car or the gas; the cost is use of their time. With an autonomous car, that cost is much lower. That means more use of the roads because of lower "costs." Plus, for example, maybe my car will drop me off somewhere and then return home to park; when I want to go back home the car will make a second round-trip, thus doubling the congestion.

        For people too poor, too senile, or too young to drive, autonomous cars will greatly lower the costs of taxi service (which I'll call "autonomous Uber"). That will add yet more congestion.

        If I go somewhere where there is no parking or the costs of parking are high… no problem! The car will just continuously drive around (causing congestion) until I need to be picked up again.

        Don’t get me wrong: I love my car and I love driving. I just see the majority of people around me that hate their vehicles and hate driving. They will gladly switch to autonomous, at which point driving will become so miserable that I probably will too.

        • 0 avatar
          VCplayer

          “I think autonomous vehicles will drive in a slow and scared fashion”

          I actually think this is untrue. A huge amount of inefficiencies in traffic flow are caused by driver decisions whether from laziness, distractedness, or ignorance. We have people driving in the wrong lane, people who can’t merge without coming to a complete stop, people who can’t keep pace with traffic, people who take too long to accelerate from stop, etc.

          Autonomous cars will in theory eliminate all of this poor decision making. Even more so if the vehicles are allowed to communicate with each other. Computers should be able to move traffic at higher speeds much more quickly with almost no chance of accidents caused by operational error.

          Now it will be weird when we have autonomous and driver operated vehicles at the same time, but I doubt it will be worse than what we have already.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      On one hand we have some pushing for autonomous devices such as cars and on the other hand we have fellows like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates warning of the dangers od artificial intelligence. IIRC they felt that in as early as 30 years military use of AI could be a threat to mankind.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    “The problem is that the low-hanging safety fruit has long been plucked. If the government were to make any of the newest safety technologies mandatory, it would effectively be picking winners”

    I agree to a certain extent, but there is one low-hanging fruit that hasn’t been mandated in the US: amber turn signals. They are reputedly way more effective than third brake lights. The problem is that the (former…) Big Three have consistently lobbied against them, in the belief that it would preserve their diminishing US market share.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “The problem is that the low-hanging safety fruit has long been plucked.”

      And for a commercial example, have a look at Volvo sales charts since 1990.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Incidentally, Volvo seems to be on a roll in my area. Lots and lots of S60s and XC60s around these parts, way more than a year ago.

        It reminds me of how Subarus became a common thing around Y2K, after years of being a “quirky” brand. Back then, a lot of Volvo owners were moving to Subaru (for a basic reliable wagon I suppose). I’m not sure if the same owners are going back to Volvo, or if some other demographic has discovered them. I wouldn’t be surprised if Volvo had tapped-in to the German car crowd, or the Acura crowd (very similar).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Simpler than that. They prioritized the CUV with their development dollars. Now they have two CUVs that are among the best in class (XC90 and XC60) and the CUV market is the fastest-growing one in the industry.

          Everyone who prioritized the CUV is doing well. Everyone who didn’t… isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      NHTSA concludes that amber turn signals would reduce rear-end crash rates by about 5%.

      About one-third of all crashes involve rear-end collisions, but rear-end crashes comprise just a small proportion of fatals.

      On the whole, amber turn signals wouldn’t do that much good. I’d favor the idea myself (and I am militant about using turn signals myself), but they are no panacea and they would save very few lives.

      The greatest killers on the road are angle crashes between vehicles, rollover crashes, collisions with fixed objects, head-ons and crashes with pedestrians. Stability control helps with the rollovers, and freeways and roundabouts can help with the head-ons and the angle crashes. We’ll need autonomous cars to deal with the rest, if such a thing is possible

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        5% fewer rear-end crashes at no cost to anybody sounds like low-hanging fruit to me. Just because people rarely die from these types of crashes doesn’t mean they don’t cost a lot of money and time to fix.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Just don’t make more out of it then there is. It wouldn’t do much.

          I also imagine that it would be similar to the third brake light effect. Those lights worked initially, but then drivers learned to tune them out. It doesn’t hurt to have them and I wouldn’t get rid of them, but they don’t do a whole lot. As far as ineffective policies go, at least it wouldn’t cost any money.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” For people too poor, too senile, or too young to drive, autonomous cars will greatly lower the costs of taxi service (which I’ll call “autonomous Uber”). ”

    Johnny Cab ! .

    -Nate
    (who’ll hopefully still be riding my Moto)

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      That is one sweet looking Metropolitan, Nate. If you ever decide to sell it, and it isn’t claimed by family or close friends, please let me have a shot at trying to convince my wife that she will enjoy driving it. I think she really might. And I would love to have it as my alternate set of wheels as well.

      Is your avatar a pic of your actual one, or just a stock photo?

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Yes ;

        That is my 1959 Metropolitan Nash Fixed Head Coupe , doing it’s thing om world famous Mulholland Drive , going just above 60 MPH on ” that curve ” below the overlook , some boob in a freshly restored MGB Roadster refused to speed up / pull over , I talked to him and he now knows better .

        It’s not for sale until I’m dead and isn’t sweet , it’s a piece of junk I think no matter how much I love the darn thing .

        Truly a car for it’s time 55 years ago and again now .

        Is there really hate for mini – trucks ? I drove a ’72 Courier and loved it , owned a couple Datsun 620’s good but too small for me .

        I currently run a ’69 Chevy. C/10 short bed stepside as I use it like a Coupe when it’s not working . I think it big (I’m old , remember) but every one else says it’s tiny .

        InLine 6 cylinder of course .

        My Son OTOH , has a HUGE Chevy crew cab diesel thing , all hot rodded although he never ‘ rolls coal ‘ as that slows it down and wa$te$ money .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    seattle4r70w

    Independent of regulation, we humans sure seem to like things that make life safer/reliable/predictable etc. Even if we complain about it a bit on the way there. Since I don’t daily drive a Model A Ford or Stanley Steamer – I’ll consider myself part of this march towards automation.

    It’s fun to be a selective Luddite and turn our noses up at the commoners embracing ABS and ESC and then jump in your 12 year old BMW “track car” and embrace the daylights out of:
    – EFI
    – multi-link suspension
    – disc brakes
    – variable assist power steering
    – good seatbelts
    – interval wipers
    – great all-season radial tires
    – halogen headlights
    – soft interior surfaces
    – side window defrosters
    – self-cancelling turn signals
    – passenger side mirrors
    – headrests
    – high levels of nvh reduction and so on.

    I have a 1963 Beetle and everytime I drive I am reminded that everything I listed above is missing. Likely to my or someone else’s detriment at the end of the day.

    Brakes from 1963 suck – I don’t care if Sebastian Loeb is helping to push Lewis Hamilton’s leg on the pedal while Walter Rohrl gives commentary on the road surface. It will never stop as straight and as short from 60 mph as the guy next you in 2004 Kia even while playing Candy Crush and texting. Which will save him, his precious Galaxy S5 and hopefully me if I’m front of him in my Beetle.

    So I’m kinda with Jack here. As long as I can turn off the ESC to do donuts in the ski area parking lot. And then I’ll proudly drive my family back to Seattle with all technology in place.

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      @Seattle4r70w Stanley Steamer, indeed. I went to Jr. High with a kid whose last name was Stanley and who was a direct descendant. And he swore that steam was going to make a comeback and be the wave of the future for autos.

      I am still waiting for a Stanley dealership to open up near me, however.

      Though it would certainly be unique, and should keep me warm in the coldest of winters.

  • avatar
    cantankerous

    ESC/Traction control is great, except when it’s not. The ESC in my 6-speed RWD G35 coupe has frequently put me at risk of getting t-boned by allowing my car to thrust two or three feet into the path of oncoming traffic and then killing the power because one of the wheels spun in a little bit of sand. This is particularly a problem during winters in the snow belt, where sand at the side of the road and at t-style intersections is omnipresent. Sometimes I turn the ESC off in anticipation of such incidents but I usually don’t because I’m afraid that I might forget to turn it back on, thereby preventing it from doing its job when I might actually benefit from its intervention.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Motorcyclists around the world would cheer loudly if cars were equipped with left-turn motorcycle detection technology.

    Few things are as sphincter-puckering as entering an intersection on a motorcycle while a RAV4 sits poised on the opposite side, left turn signal blinking and a vacant stare on the driver’s face. Humans are notoriously bad at judging the speed and proximity of an oncoming motorcycle, and will dart into its path at the last possible second with alarming frequency. It’s the #1 cause of car-on-bike crashes, and in many cases there’s not a damn thing the motorcyclist can do about it.

  • avatar
    210delray

    Wow, 100 comments and counting, yet no one’s responded to Jack’s very valid point of providing brand new Honda Civics to everyone (and especially young male drivers) in place of their aging Cadavaliers, Escorts/Foci, Neons, and other small cars. This would cost a bundle initially, but would save far more lives and serious injuries in the immediate future than waiting for the latest safety features to trickle down into the general fleet.

    Some combination of government, automaker, and insurance incentives could be put in place to encourage people to ditch their deathtraps along the lines of “cash for clunkers.”

    Also, you may not like to hear it, but Pch101 knows his stuff in regard to the futility of advanced driver training. Maybe it’s hubris in thinking you’re the greatest driver out there. (Aren’t we all?)

    As for ESC, real-world studies have shown it’s quite effective, which was not the case for ABS alone. I realize there are some limited conditions for disabling it — that’s why most manufacturers include some kind of partial defeat switch.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Active safety doesn’t work. Passive safety does.

      ABS is an active safety device, while ESC is passive. ABS is intended to help you be a better driver, which means that it probably won’t. ESC prevents an act of stupidity from becoming something painful or fatal, so it works. To those who pay attention to the research, this difference in the outcome should not be a surprise.

      As far as young males go, the most useful public policy initiative would entail raising the driving age to 18, which would then be followed by a multi-year graduated licensing program that includes the display of a large “L” plate learner’s placard as is typically used in Europe. Reducing the numbers of teens on the road and forcing those who are on the road to wear a sort of scarlet letter would reduce fatalities significantly, as young drivers kill people in disproportionate numbers. Having a fear of death helps to improve ones driving.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Ok. Simple response. If someone were to give me a new Honda Civic, I would immediately give it away without ever even starting it. It’s not that it’s a bad car; it’s not even that it’s an ugly car; it’s simply a bland car, the perfect sleeper for a street racer.

      My Jeep Wrangler is distinctive; everyone knows it for what it is from blocks away.
      My Fiat 500 is distinctive; nearly everyone knows it for what it is from blocks away.
      My Ford Ranger is distinctive; everyone will know it is NOT a full-sized pickup truck from blocks away.
      The Honda Civic? You can’t tell that from an Acura or nearly any other Japanese-built car built in the last 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        210delray

        The simple answer in terms of the context of this article is that a new Honda Civic is safer in most types of collisions (or less likely to be in a collision in the first place) than any of your daily drivers.

        (I am assuming that the Ranger is older without side airbags, the Wrangler is a 2-door also sans side airbags, and of course the Fiat 500 is about the tiniest, lightest car on the road today = bad for safety, and has a Poor rating in the IIHS small overlap crash test.)

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Hmmm… Let’s see.

          ’97 Ranger. 21,000 miles. Never been crashed. Only ‘nanny’ is ABS which itself has probably never been triggered.
          ’08 JKU Wrangler. 75,000 miles. Never been crashed. Four doors. Was daily driver for 7 years (now one week over 8 years old). ABS never triggered, though ESC has triggered exactly three times; every one of them on snow when making a corner in 4WD and every one of them nearly getting me stuck on a snowplow’s berm at the edge of the road when I could have powered through.
          ’14 Fiat 500. 12,000 miles. Never been crashed. Is extremely agile and able to avoid most chancy circumstances. Fiat 500 also has 4-star front collision rating so is safer to hit square on if it looks like it might become a “small overlap” circumstance. Then again, being so light and agile will probably be out of the way of that clumsy ‘small overall’ collision before it happens.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      The “small but maneuverable” argument has been thoroughly debunked by research — just ask Pch101. You can’t “pick” your crash type in advance; there are always situations where you simply don’t have enough sight distance to even react (I’m thinking about blind intersections or curves on higher-speed rural 2-lane roads). My most serious crash in 47 years of driving was center-punching a deer at 45-50 mph that caused only about $1200 of cosmetic damage to my car (and wasn’t severe enough even for the seat belts to lock up). There was one fatality though — of the deer.

      Your Ranger must be parked most of the time because I have its compadre, a 1998 Nissan Frontier with only dual frontal airbags and rear ABS. It has what I thought was a remarkably low 88,000 miles and is driven only about 2000 miles yearly now, in mostly low-risk situations.

      The Wrangler at least has a weight advantage, but (likely) lack of side airbags is a serious disadvantage in a side-impact crash (the blind intersection scenario where the proverbial “other guy” blows a stop sign).

      I wouldn’t have the Fiat — just too small in today’s mix of mostly larger vehicles. Yes, I drove a Rabbit back in the day, but that was when I was young and naive.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Trying to reason with Vulpine is a complete waste of time.

        He consistently forms his positions based upon the notion that reality is limited to his gut feelings and anecdotes. For example, his view here is that ESC does nothing because he hasn’t personally needed it is the sort of logic that appeals to idiots.

        He’s one of those guys who thinks that verbosity is substitute for data. If the guy finished high school, I’d be surprised. Don’t bother.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          pch101 I don’t see anything in that study you cite that is other than gut feelings and anecdotes. If I missed actual data showing differences in accident rates between skilled trained drivers and awareness only trained drivers, please point out to us where it was.

          All I saw was that in the opinion of the driver trainers, the students held too high an opinion of the value of skills training as opposed to situational awareness training.

          In other words, opinion, anecdotal conclusions, and gut feelings of the instructors.

          So if I want to be as harsh as you are to Vulpine, simply because he questions your conclusion, I have to ask you where did you learn to logically analyze conclusions to see if they are supported by data rather than are just writeups of the feelings of a group that were included in the study.

          Maybe he didn’t finish HS, but at least he didn’t confuse a study relating opinions of driving instructors with accident incidence increases as a function of driver training type, which would have been hard data, had it been in the study. I did not find any such data in the study. Could you show me where that accident incidence data is?

          Unless you can, you are guilty of what you accuse others of being guilty of. So please produce the data or stop complaining that people aren’t convinced by the anecdotal “feelings” study you cited.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I concur, VolandoBajo. Unfortunately, there are those who would leap to conclusions on no data at all, if they believed they were right all the time.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          “For example, his view here is that ESC does nothing because he hasn’t personally needed it ….”

          False conclusion, Pch. Nowhere have I made that statement. What I have said is that it has been an active HINDRANCE to effective driving as clearly proven by multiple real-world examples–INCLUDING a recent comparison on Pickup Trucks dot com between a RAM Rebel and a Toyota Tundra TRD. The Toyota’s nannies were so severe–especially in 2WD mode–that it was near un-driveable on soft soil. Even in 4×4 mode it proved a significant problem, though less so than the Ram in 4×4.

          The data is out there; you just have to know how to interpret it logically. Jumping to conclusions is not logical when the data IS out there.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Your consistent inability to understand even basic concepts is stunning. You aren’t worth the effort.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Which one of us has been consistently proven wrong, Pch? Hmmm? You can straw man me all you want, but the facts WILL prove you wrong more often than not.

            Facts are not truth. Separating truth from fiction is something too few learn how to do. I suggest reading more fiction if you really want to learn about society.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You wouldn’t know how to prove anything.

            You’re one of those buffoons who thinks that repeating a false statement makes it true because you said it. You display all of the classic signs of the uneducated fool who can’t be taught.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Pssst he’s also in the small truck jihad.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            It seems that small truck fetishists are either internet idiots or else Islamic terrorists. There must be something in the brake fluid…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Maybe General Jack D. Ripper meant to refer to precious brake fluids instead of bodily ones?

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057012/quotes

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Pch101 has obviously told you about my opinion of his viewpoints. He and I have argued for years, and every coming year proves him more and more wrong. He hasn’t been totally right ever and only a very, very few times have I ever agreed with him–every time to his chagrin.

        True, there are situations where you just can’t avoid a collision; but I’d say driving 30 years without a collision kind of emphasizes my point that they can be avoided most of the time. The article’s own author points this out by the fact that today’s nannies can moderate the panic maneuver and react more quickly and more efficiently than the “average” driver. I learned to drive when there were no nannies and yes, I taught myself how to handle skid situations. Even in three different blizzards and no tire chains, I’ve driven a Camaro safely through hilly country roads where 4×4 pickups were sitting in the ditch. I have the benefit of real-world experience behind my driving and only consider myself “better than average” and by no means as good as those who race professionally. I do question the quality of driver who street races in and around traffic on city streets and freeways.

        That said, what you don’t know about the Fiat 500 might surprise you. You consider it too light and too flimsy and yes, I do acknowledge that the ’14 model pretty much failed the “slight overlap” collision tests–but then, so have many other vehicles since that test was added to the NHTSA and Insurance Institute safety programs. Including most full-sized pickup trucks even now. But at nearly 3,000 pounds, it’s not THAT much lighter than many cars physically larger that weigh in at 3200 and 3400 pounds. Of course, that light weight comes in as an advantage toward avoiding a crash but even when a collision is inevitable, being of a lighter weight means that the actual impact force between two vehicles is reduced. Since the Fiat 500 has air bags all around, including in the seat bolsters themselves, it’s safer than you may want to believe.

        The Ranger? While I only just acquired it about 4 months ago, I’ve already put over 2,000 miles on it. Its biggest advantage is that it is smaller and lighter than full-sized trucks so is less likely to get into a collision than one. Additionally, full-sized pickups are the #1 culprit in single-vehicle crashes in which there is a fatality. Just last year about this time I heard of a crash in north Georgia that killed at least four people, three in a crew-cab pickup truck and a man mowing his lawn as the truck tumbled over him. Only the driver of the pickup survived the actual crash, though I don’t know if he still lived after reaching the hospital or not. Those big trucks give a driver a sense of power and invulnerability all out of proportion to its true capabilities which is as one of the least stable vehicles on the road. I drive that Ranger as though it could throw its tail out at any time because depending on road conditions and load, it well could. In 17 years its former owner averaged just over 1,000 miles per year in it so it’s in near-mint condition so far.

        As for the Wrangler, I’ll grant that its side-impact ratings seem poor, but I personally know an owner who got T-boned by someone running a red light; she survived with only bruises and that Wrangler is again on the road, fully repaired. The other car was totaled (a Buick, I believe) and the driver unhurt.

        As such, I take those safety ratings as what they’re intended… a guide and nothing more. They give an impression about the relative safety of a vehicle but can’t fully report on how valid those tests are in real-world conditions. I’ve seen one crash where a pickup truck managed one of those “slight overlap” collisions with a Panther car; the car’s bodywork down the side was completely ripped off. The driver survived with minor injuries. The pickup? Snagged at the Panther’s rear wheel and got turned, barrel-rolling about three complete turns before coming to rest. The driver had to be airlifted to a hospital. He’d fallen asleep at the wheel.

        My point is that you can’t make assumptions about a car’s abilities and quite honestly relying on those tests and vehicle specifications only promote those assumptions. Only by looking at cars involved in real-world crashes can you get an idea of how they will perform in such a circumstance. Yes, some will certainly fail; but you might be surprised at how well others do despite their NHTSA and Insurance Institute ratings.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          @Vulpine and @28-Cars-Later Yes, I know @pch101 all too well. Facts and reasoning elude him, except as phrases to sling at others, along with ad hominem attacks.

          When there was a discussion that turned into a sidetrack about whether or not LGBT rights trumped the religious freedom of conscience rights of others, when I didn’t agree with him that that was so, I was immediately cast as a homophobe, a racist, one who probably calls the Civil War “The War of Northern Aggression”, etc.

          I still try to analyze his points, and the evidence that might exist for them, and to respond according to the facts, ignoring his specious reasoning and personal attacks.

          That is why I looked up his study, and that is why I can see that all it proves is the driving instructors think that students are wrong to think that skills training is more beneficial than situational awareness.

          There is zero data about accident rates. There is no evidence that the students paid less attention to situational awareness as a result of their weighing the two factors as being of equal importance.

          Though I try to keep my responses on a higher plane, I have to admit that once he passes a certain threshold, I end up wanting to deliberately throw in things like the War of Northern Aggression, just to watch him jump up and down and start calling people stupid, meanwhile failing to respond to or rebut any logical point anyone he doesn’t like brings up.

          He should be careful though. People who think that they know everything are particularly annoying to those of us who really do. ;-)

    • 0 avatar
      VolandoBajo

      I read the study that pch101 cited.

      A careful reading does not present any experiential data showing higher accident rates among skill-trained drivers.

      Instead, its key finding is that the skill-trained drivers themselves felt that there was about an equal benefit of accident avoidance from skills training and from enhanced situational awareness.

      The instructors, on the other hand, felt that situational awareness contributed more to accident avoidance than skills training did.

      From that data about the FEELINGS of the two participant classes, it was concluded that the trainers were more expert in figuring the correlation between the two approaches, and accidents themselves, than were the students.

      That is all that the study shows. It does NOT show that skills training leads to overconfidence, except when comparing their feelings with those of their instructors.

      Neither of those groups had any accident rate data included, which would have been a necessary component if one wished to conclude accurately that the overconfidence (actually just greater confidence than the instructors) in skills training actually resulted in more accidents.

      Ergo, no such data is equivalent to no valid conclusion that skills training leads to more fatalities.

      It is important to read exactly what was studied, and what conclusions can, or cannot, be supported by actual data, as opposed to feelings of groups of supposed experts. Studies of feelings of groups of so-called experts, who are nothing more than driver trainers, do not constitute hard evidence of accident correlation, only that there is a belief that there is a correlation.

      And that is also all that pch101 himself has: a belief that there is a correlation between skills training and increased accident rates.

      But watch closely: there is no data in the study that demonstrates that there actually was an increase in accidents as a result of skills training. It is PURE CONJECTURE based on the feelings of a group that has skills in training, but does not have data to support their feelings.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Wow – that kind of public policy looks suspiciously like allowing and fostering the gaining of driving experience (which is training…it’s self-training), which would seem to be an effort at creating better drivers.

    Which means it won’t work…damn.

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      No, it’s a combination of experience AND maturity, both of which lead to better judgment. It’s the judgment (and its antithesis — risk-taking) that can’t be taught (or “wrung out” in the case of the latter).

      For the same reason, why has it been common practice for car rental companies to generally require that customers must be at least 25 years of age?

      It’s ironic that elderly drivers are mocked, when it’s the youngest cohort that is the most dangerous.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I find it amusing that those who are so passionate about the benefits of driver education won’t learn anything about driver education. The irony is the gift that keeps on giving.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Learning about the feelings of a subset of driver trainers as to the effect of their students having more confidence in skills training than the trainers do, does not constitute a study of the relative value of skills training vs. situational awareness, when it comes to accident rate reduction.

          It is not enough to know that there was a study. One has to know what was studied, what the conclusions were, and most importantly, whether or not there was sufficient data presented to support the conclusions of the study. Opinions as to the effect of different types of trainers, even by the so-called expert class that is the trainers themselves, does NOT constitute proof of any correlation between types of training and accident rates.

          There may be some somewhere, but it was not found in my reading of the government study you quoted.

          Hence there is also no basis for your looking snidely at those who don’t agree with your conclusion, as if they are oblivious to facts. They are not oblivious to facts, just skeptical of studies that base real world conclusions on the feelings of study participants. Ignorance arises from accepting conclusions that data do not support. Wisdom is knowing not to accept conclusions without supporting data.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          Isn’t it ironic that you speak of irony, when it is so ironic that you don’t realize that most of what you accuse others of is precisely what is true of you.

          That is what is truly ironic.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    @pch101 wrote

    “You wouldn’t know how to prove anything.

    You’re one of those buffoons who thinks that repeating a false statement makes it true because you said it. You display all of the classic signs of the uneducated fool who can’t be taught.”

    Duh-ooode! Look in the mirror! That is a perfect description of you, citing a study as proof of somethat that it doesn’t address, whether or not accident rates increase as a result of skills-based driver training.

    It’s right out there for anyone, and I do mean ANYONE, even you, if you just read the description of the study.

    Yet you insist that that study is proof that skills-based training causes overconfidence (which is based only on a different assessment of its value than the instructors had), and that that overconfidence causes more accidents (which it did not prove, as instructors’ opinions that the students were overly confident was not accompanied by ANY data WHATSOEVER addressing accident rates of skills-based trained drivers vs. those who had not received skills-based training.

    IT’S YOU, DUDE! And anyone, except you, can see it. As Casey Stengel or Yogi Berra said “you can see a lot just by looking”.

    Oh, and while we are on the subject of reasoning, only someone like you could argue that imposing a twenty-five per cent tariff on small pickups would have no impact on either supply or demand. Any significant change in price will ALWAYS have an impact over time on both supply and demand. So you can shout “chicken tax fanatics” all you want, but that won’t change the fundamental principles of economics.

    The tin hat belongs on you. It might cover the only point you have, though if you comb your hair right, it might not show.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I find humorous but odd that you consistently write 1000+-words posts that are directed to me that I never read.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Willful ignorance is not an excuse; it’s a crime. Look it up.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          No, @pch101 you just think that they are all directed at you. That is your indominatable egotism running wild. But how would you know who they are directed to anyway, since you claim not to read them.

          You can’t even see the logical inconsistencies in your short statements. And you constantly ignore anything anyone else asserts or offers as evidence, and then cite things as evidence that only marginally touch on the subject, but that don’t even claim to prove what you say they do.

          I find you laughably humorous, and oddly devoid of any ability to make any point you espouse…just flat assertions coupled with venom towards others.

          You must really think you are smarter than everyone, don’t you.

          But what basis do have for believing that? We certainly can’t see it from your simplistic assertions and bile.

          Grow up and try to use some logic for a change, instead of just claiming to do so.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I won’t read that, either. You use a lot of words to say very little, and are frankly not that interesting.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          @Vulpine He is like a little kid, hell, he IS a little kid, who puts his fingers in his ears and shouts “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”. Then two minutes later he is shouting “MOMMY! HE SAID MORE BAD THINGS ABOUT ME!”.

          It amazes me that someone with his emotional age is physically large enough to reach a keyboard.

          Since he doesn’t read my posts anymore, I guess I am free to point out his foibles without fear of him replying…as if…

          Pch101 thinks that if you believe in fundamental principles of economics you are a fanatic, one who is resentful that the government chooses to collect taxes, indeed, probably a dastardly fiscal conservative, as well as a small truck nut.

          What’s funny though is that in NYC it used to be a running joke that the bigger the car, the smaller the guy’s equipment. So I guess if he doesn’t like small trucks, he must like large ones, and therefore, using his style of reasoning, he must be hung like a fruitfly.

          Since he says he doesn’t read me, he will make himself a liar if he responds to this, it will prove that he will say things just for effect, without really meaning them.

          If brains were dynamite, pch101 wouldn’t be able to blow his nose.

          The funniest part is that the people who take down pch101 outnumber complaints about all of his debating opponents about ten to one. Yet he thinks he is winning arguments left and right, because, of course, he is a legend in his own mind.

          Hey, pch101 point me to any, and I mean ANY thread on TTAC where you offered up some supposed evidence that actually did what you said it did, rebutted someone else’s assertion that you didn’t agree with.

          He must be going out of his mind about now, unable to decide if he should let these things go unanswered, or prove to us that he really does read what I write.

          And it is fun to see him caught by his own illogical behavior. He is a man (or would it be a woman? Or something else?) whose mind is made up. Please do not confuse him with facts.

          That’s all for now. Let’s see what he does…lets all of these assertions about pass unnoticed, or if he makes a lie out of his statement that he never reads what I write.

          What will it be? Will his fingers really be in his ears, or will he be surreptitiously reading what he claims he ignores.

          Come out, come out, whatever you are, pch101.

        • 0 avatar
          VolandoBajo

          pch never looks anything up, unless it is to find something he can claim supports one of his whack-a-doodle alternate universe theories, based on the suspension of economic theory, logic, etc. And then it is only to find something about the topic, anything about the topic, so he can claim falsely that it contains evidence to support his out-on-a-limb ideas about how the world works.

          And he never reads anything anyone he doesn’t agree with wrote, he only replies to them. Not sure how he can do that, unless his mind is split into two parts…but that would be schizophrenia. Surely he couldn’t, could he? It is a possibility, however, and no more far-fetched than any other theory about how his thinking can be so far divorced from well-known economic theories and/or common sense.

          Then again, perhaps his name is derived from the Pacific Coast Highway, and Route 101. That might explain a lotas he or she might be a little old lady in tennis shoes (sensible shoes?), or perhaps one of those people who have given CA its nickname of “the land of the fruits and nuts.” Perhaps he could be either, or both. A fruity nut, or a nutty fruit.

          Though he swears he won’t read this, it must be killing him to see himself exposed for what he is, “a tale of sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

          Time for a new theory from pch101, no one else is buying your old ones. Got to love you, though, you provide so much for us to laugh at, since presumably you are just a little whacko, and not someone who is truly mentally challenged. Though sometimes I wonder if it is a case of my trying to fight a battle of wits, only to discover that I am fighting an unarmed person.

          Well, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what comes next from the unfathomable depths of pch101 safety theories.

          If he were in charge of highway safety for the US, I think I might change my mind and support fully-autonomous vehicles, as long as he wasn’t allowed to write the specs for them.

          In the end, though, it is a bit scary to me that someone who can read and write, can write things so thoroughly devoid of logic and/or proof, all the while maintaining that they do.

          I just hope he keeps the hell off of my lawn. I’ll take my chances on the highway, as there cannot be that many of him out there.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    I won’t read that, either. You use a lot of words to say very little, and are frankly not that interesting. –pch101

    You obviously must have read it, or you wouldn’t know it was there or that it mentioned you.

    No one needs you to repetitively post that you don’t read. Your style of arguing points clearly shows that fact about you.

    So if you don’t want to read me, just don’t read me. There are a lot of posts I don’t have time or the interest to read.

    This place would be pretty cluttered up if everyone who didn’t read a post, posted to say they didn’t read it.

    But of course, we all must NEED to know what the great a mighty pch101 thinks. Because we will be SO butt hurt if he doesn’t deem us worthy to be included among those he agrees with. Though if you look closely, he doesn’t agree with hardly anyone. And if you look at what he posts, it is obvious that he is incapable of looking at, and responding rationally, to anything anyone else says, especially if they have had the audacity to point out his oh so obvious lack of ability to reason, or to carry on an adult conversation with anyone who holds an opinion different from his own.

    And since his opinions are by and large fact-free, there aren’t too many who do agree with him.

    Watch him come back now and say he didn’t read this either. He is like those Japanese tamagochi toys…if you provide it with any input whatsoever, it will respond in some absurd way, just because that is all it is programmed to do. Tamagochi pch101, a poster who knows how to fail a Turing test.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    @RobertRyan It was a bit on the long side for a summation, but thanks for the props. I realize I was jumping feet first on pch, but I am sick and tired of seeing him do that same sort of thing, time after time, and not only to me, but to more than one other person on here who show some sign of intelligence, and whom I consider to be my online friends.

    That, and he seems to have plumbed new depths with his theories on automotive safety. Almost seems like he just throws crap out there to annoy people, though I suppose he just might really believe that crap, too.

    I really don’t mind if people have ideas that I think are flawed, or don’t agree with. But when they refuse to cite evidence for things they cite as facts, and when they start calling people who don’t agree with them names, as if he is so much superior to them that he doesn’t need to have to support his opinions, I find that such an attitude is that of a loser. And when the persist, just asking for it, and it is a rainy afternoon and I am in the right mood for it, I get the feeling that it is time to take fools like him to task.

    And I am glad that I am not alone in that opinion.

    Part of what makes TTAC mostly an intelligent place to hang out is that there are a lot of fairly bright people, with a wide variety of life experience and a wide variety of opinions, on here, and most of them are willing to discuss things they disagree on.

    Pch on the other hand is like a little kid who creates a fuss in the pool, and when the lifeguard tells him it is time to get out, drops trou and defecates, just to be sure that no one else can enjoy the pool, if they aren’t willing to put up with his tantrums.

    So I am glad that there are people on here beside myself who can see what a dweeb he is, and how vacuous his statements (I won’t dignify them as being arguments or assertions) really are.

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