Sunday, 28 September 2014

Space Lemmings - Peer Pressure - Race to the Bottom

Space Lemming courtesy of lemnet.tripod.com
There are two tribes of road users, each of which thinks the other is dangerous - the fast and the slow.

Slow motorists often say they feel pressured to drive badly (eg speeding) by other motorists, specifically the one behind them.
  • Fast motorists say it is the slow motorists (not just cyclists) that are dangerous, because they get in the way, and even get them angry, 'forcing' them to drive badly.
Eg after a 100 car pile-up in fog

  • "NO ONE can stay 2 car lengths behind another vehicle without some other vehicle pulling into that space."
  • "if you don't have [ 2 chevrons / lengths / seconds ] you're pretty much guaranteed to crash into the other vehicle"
  • "All it takes is one driver at 10km/h less than the speed limit to cause this kind of accident."

As with the driver/cyclist false dichotomy, very many drivers will belong to both tribes, perhaps simultaneously. Society is broken, and the cognitive dissonance is a huge cause of stress.

Actually two tribes is a massive oversimplification !

20mph limits have made roads "more dangerous", says Bristol driving instructor - [ Bristol Post ]
"I obviously insist that my pupils stick to the advertised 20mph limits, but we are regularly overtaken on residential roads in very dangerous situations.
"Only the other day, myself and a pupil were driving on Cranbrook Road in Redland at 20mph and the car behind kept hooting and then overtook straight into the path of an oncoming cyclist."
Note that it is the road or the limit that is described as dangerous, not the drivers. You would think an instructor would stress the idea of personal responsibility !

Should we let the worst driver on the road dictate our driving standards ?
That would be a kind of Race to the Bottom.

There's an interesting exchange on pepipoo.com about driving at the speed limit in lane 3 of a motorway
  • By your actions you will cause that person to probably undertake you or be extremely p*ssed off or both and that is bad for road safety.
  • If there were some bizarre leap of logic that would somehow make my safe, responsible and legal driving responsible for the accidents your unsafe, irresponsible and illegal driving causes, how would I avoid it? Should I drive less safely, less responsibly, or less legally?
  • Um but your driving isn't safe if you are deliberatly causing someone else to brake when they didn't need to. In fact I believe you are guilty of driving dangerously. Who are you claiming your driving is responsible for? If its you, you are putting yourself at risk by hoping that another driver will react in the fashion you expect when you deliberately endanger yourself seems to be the definition of irresponsibility. "I put my safety into the hands of a person who is already (im my opinion) breaking the law and driving recklessly, despite being able to avoid the situation entirely." Driving at the speed limit has no bearing whatsoever on whether your driving is safe
  • By the same logic, nobody should ever leave the house, because they are potentially putting their safety into the hands of other people who could be madmen with shotguns for all you know..
That comes across as threatening.

This could be an example of 'Pluralistic Ignorance' : where most members of a group incorrectly think that most other members hold a view different to their own.
"It's not me - it's everyone else that wants to go too fast!"

Community Pace Car Schemes

In 2006, a few places, including Doncaster and Cheshire set up 'Community Pace Car Schemes', where motorists would pledge not to exceed the speed limits, and displayed stickers.
The scheme was not popular, and just legitimised what a few people do anyway.

Predictably ABD and SafeSeed objected, as it would expose poor driving:
  • Risks due to frustrated overtaking. 
  • Risks due to tailgating. 
  • Risks due to traffic bunching 
  • Risks due to a 'holier than thou' attitude 
  • Risks due to traffic obstruction 
CPS guidance :
The offence of driving without reasonable consideration under section 3 of the RTA 1988 is committed only when other persons are inconvenienced by the manner of the defendants driving, see section 3ZA(4) RTA 1988.
The Act says
3ZA Meaning of careless, or inconsiderate, driving
  1. This section has effect for the purposes of sections 2B and 3 above and section 3A below.
  2. A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention if (and only if) the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
  3. In determining for the purposes of subsection (2) above what would be expected of a careful and competent driver in a particular case, regard shall be had not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.
  4. A person is to be regarded as driving without reasonable consideration for other persons only if those persons are inconvenienced by his driving.
 CPS clarify
The following examples are typical of actions likely to be regarded as inconsiderate driving:
  • flashing of lights to force other drivers in front to give way;
  • misuse of any lane (including cycling lanes) to avoid queuing or gain some other advantage over other drivers;
  • unnecessarily remaining in an overtaking lane;
  • unnecessarily slow driving or braking without good cause;
  • driving with un-dipped headlights which dazzle oncoming drivers, cyclists or pedestrians;
  • driving through a puddle causing pedestrians to be splashed;
  • driving a bus in such a way as to alarm passengers.

Motorways are an exception

James Johnson jailed for six years over death of teen Bethany Jones - [ Daily Mail Online ]
At one time, there was a signed 20mph minimum limit on the A45 dual carriageway from Wellingborough to Northampton. Are there any others ?

See also