Re: Next hype to go for

From: Stephen D. Williams (
Date: Sat Apr 14 2001 - 07:08:59 PDT

Karl Anderson wrote:
> "Stephen D. Williams" <> writes:
> > Lisa Dusseault wrote:
> > >
> > > That's not enough, unfortunately. Cognitive research shows that activities
> > > which require attention and motor skills suffer when the person is engaged
> > > in pure-cognitive activities simultaneously.
> > >
> > > I know I'm somewhat of a worse driver when I'm talking to a passenger. And
> > > passengers are more forgiving than the person on the other end of the
> > > cell-phone line who can't tell if you're trying to merge at this moment.
> > >
> > > lisa
> >
> > I have a big problem with these kinds of laws. The risk increase varies
> > tremendously, from non-existent to major. Are they going to legislate
> > talking? What about revoking the license of anyone who doesn't score in
> > the top 60% on reflexes, attention, and integration of multiple sensory
> > inputs? Top 30%?
> Um, doesn't every state revoke the license of everyone found to be in
> the bottom X% of these qualities when they take their drivers tests?

Yea, the bottom .05% or something. How many adults (not in major metro
areas where you can live using only the subway) do you know that don't
have their license because they are too slow?

> > I manage risk every day while driving, walking through a parking lot,
> > sometimes skating in downtown DC in traffic, etc. Invasive laws that
> > don't Always make sense are really annoying. Seat-belt laws in,
> > cellphone bans out. Least common denominator laws that assume some
> > minimal level of ability are insulting and bound to be ignored. Speed
> > limit laws, on a highway, fall into this category in many circumstances.
> And drunk driving laws, too.

This one is a clear, deliberate impairment. While there is some element
of LCD involved when they set the limit so that someone who is already
slow/poor is not impaired too much more, it isn't as clearcut a case as
speeding. There really is a wide overlap between levels of 'impairment'
and natural ability vs. 'dangerous impairment'. I know that without
simple laws they can't be enforced; still doesn't make it truly fair or
give an even risk factor.

> I think that someone should have a certain modicum of ability before
> they point their car at my unprotected flesh. I think that I should
> be able to enforce this myself, but I'll settle for the licensing and
> restrictions.

Of course. My complaint is that everything is assumed 'even' and level
when it is not even close. I'd be all for classes of drivers: beyond
the basics, you could get a performance license that certified that you
had passed stringent ability requirements. Then you would be allowed in
the 'autobahn' lane... Of course we'd never pay for that, we too easily
get the same effect by just skirting the laws.

It's not just driving ability that is better, vehicles now are far
better than those that caused limits to be set the way they are. Nearly
every vehicle now has a suspension, tires, power, braking, and handling
that exceeded everything made 20-30+ years ago. That alone means the
risk has gone down drastically.

This is part of the long risk management discussion: people want the
illusion of having no risk or of some magic line where the risk is
officially acceptable. The reality is that risks vary wildly which
makes a joke of many laws and regulations. When it involves wasting
part of my life (i.e. time driving slower) when the risk/reward ratio is
out of whack, it becomes annoying.

> > I do however multitask quite a bit while driving; probably enough to
> > shock a number of people. I'm far more likely to fall asleep driving
> > than to screwup while multitasking. I pay More attention when doing so
> > in fact.
> The question is the quality of that attention. I agree that we need
> a more plausible demonstration about the effect of phones on drivers.
> My drivers' ed teacher told me that Canada came up with .08% by having
> peds step in front of test drivers - .08 was when the driver either
> swerved or braked, never both.
> I've Krypto'd the windows or mirrors of a few criminially distracted
> drivers on phones, and I'm pretty sure that the phone was a factor,
> but then again plenty of drivers should be shot who don't use phones.
> --
> Karl Anderson


Stephen D. Williams
43392 Wayside Cir,Ashburn,VA 20147-4622 703-724-0118W 703-995-0407Fax 

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