It's Not Number One Anymore! Problem Solved?


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In my last blog, I talked about how and why driving a car at extreme speeds can kill you.

 

And there is sufficient evidence out there to support this idea. The one most people point to is that 32% of all accident fatalities are due to speeding. If you feel unconvinced and would like more evidence, read the first blog I posted on this subject, it's hyperlinked at the top, and here.

 

But how many of these accidents involved speeding as the direct cause? We don't know. In addition to this, there is no outlined threshold for the exact speeds of these accidents. I am sure the faster the accident, the greater the odds of fatality, but how many people are going at speeds that are really so fast, that they actually push the physical limits of what their car is capable of? Again, we don't know, so it's hard to really pinpoint the issue on a statistic we can't really explain in great detail.


drivers_ed.jpg

 

I bring this up because there are a couple other important facts worth noticing from the NHTSA in reference to speeding fatalities. According to the statistics, 42% of speeding fatalities involved people over the legal BAC for driving, compared to only 16% of fatalities where speeding was not involved. Another statistic related to this is that only 53% of drivers under age 21, and 47% over 21 were reported to be wearing seatbelts in speeding related fatalities.

 

What I'm trying to get at is that there is a whole lot of third variables that have to do with this idea that speeding will inevitably get you into an accident, and I can't help but wonder why. Yes, speeding is bad and it increases your chances of fatality, that's as close to proven as we can get, but all of the other variables that are involved in these speeding accidents seem to indicate one thing. It's not that speeding will be what gets you in a car accident, it's more often just driving stupid. Yes, car accident deaths have hit an all time low, but that can be attributed more to the cars getting safer, which is phenomenal. Unfortunately, a safe car doesn't solve everything, and it especially cannot solve you being incompetent behind the wheel. This shouldn't be an issue, and what's even more shocking is that it's something that just can't seem to go away over time.

 

You know what else hasn't changed over time? Drivers ed.

 

I found this paper written by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on the subject. It was written in 2008, and what it essentially points out is that we have failed in the way we teach driving. The author notes throughout the paper that some of the current things we have changed over time have been proven to be quite ineffective. He outlines some new methods that he believes would work better, but he makes a rather interesting point in the conclusion. What he says is that we are significantly lacking in any sort of research or science on how we educate drivers, and that it is something that needs to be done.

 

I think he has a very valid point, but I think in order for this to happen we need to start taking driving more seriously than we currently do. Look at Germany, for example. There, if you get in an accident that is your fault, you can get your license suspended for a period of time. I don't think we need to go that far, but we could easily hike up the fines for traffic violations such as texting and driving, not obeying stop signs, not using a turn signal, etc. However, I think there is a much better example, Finland.

 

This is an interview with a Finish man about how they learn driving. In essence, they start earlier than we do, and learn not just the laws of driving, but how to control a car. They learn to gain the feel for a car, and what to do whenever you lose control. In addition to this, they teach driving techniques in adverse conditions, something we currently lack entirely in our drivers education system.

 

I think if we start to treat driving as more of an action that requires skills rather than just a way of getting from point A to point B, we could see accident rates continue to fall. I think this could also lead to less distracted and drunk driving, more people wearing their seatbelts, and generally smarter driving. However, with the current way we educate drivers, the accident rates could start rising again, and as Andrew pointed out in class, they already have.

 

But I can't help but ask one question that has been bugging me throughout the writing process. Am I the only one even considering this idea? Why has nobody else made it a major issue, and why have we never looked past the obvious on what used to be leading cause of death in the United States? The way we simplified this issue is, I think, a statement in itself on how we look at problems as a society.

1 Comment

It seems to me that most drivers in the US do not take driving seriously. I say this because it is not just the normal population breaking most of the rules. Just last week I pulled up next to a cop at a stop light and he was texting while waiting.

I think as humans we collectively have this "it can't happen to me" mentality. People seem to think that since it hasn't happened that it won't. If they didn't think this they would wear their seat belts, turn down the radio, minimize all distractions in the car, and practice all rules/guidelines of the road.

This article seemed to pretty much sum it all up.

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