“We know the laws of Nature, but we also know, to our cost, that those laws never overlook a mistake, or make the smallest allowance for ignorance.”, Paraphrased from Thomas Huxley (1825-1895)
“(The laws of Nature are) terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.” British Aviator Captain A.G.Lamplugh, (1930’s)
“People need new tools to work with rather than tools that ‘work’ for them” Ivan Illich, 1926-2002, (Energy and Equity)
Automobile crashes have recently become officially recognized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization as a global epidemic, projected to escalate, in violent severity, beyond the medical health threats of HIV/ Aids, malaria, tuberculosis, et al. The most dramatic increases are taking place in countries lacking infrastructure and controls on “morenewly- acquired”, unrestrained “independent discretionary mobility”. Still, even those countries with more economic resources continue to experience high levels of extreme, needless automotive violence. Medical effectiveness can only be applied after the crash.
Volumes of recent scholarly writings describe the ineffectiveness of education and training as a means to deter, reduce or eliminate the threat of car crashes in our daily lives. An influential ideology refers to the need for technology and “sound science” to resolve the problem and citing the need for “experience” to be the training necessary for a lifetime of driving; that spontaneous learning will occur over time with minimal guidance, scrutiny and expense.
Given that logic, training requirements and evaluation for airline pilots, medical professionals, military personnel, Olympic athletes, musicians and the apprenticeship and licensing requirements for electricians and plumbers should also be dropped. Each of you reading and comprehending this text will have completed twelve and more years of education and training in the expectation of becoming a citizen contributing to society; an average, minimum requirement. What is to be considered adequate, good enough? Pursuing ideologies based on accepted or perpetuated practices has gotten our culture into difficulties before, “I was just following orders”. Rather, it follows, that the education, training, evaluation and monitoring of the “general motoring public” needs to be more effective, thorough and comprehensive; adjusted and upgraded to achieve traffic safety goals, however necessary. Present preparation for driving is focused on the goal of obtaining the driver’s license. Any required testing/evaluation is often a cursory chore at the onset of nearly a lifetime of use and not indicative of the seriousness of the task. Finland, for example, has achieved major reductions their violations and crash rate based a comprehensive “mind set” that incorporates all dimensions of the society in its automotive consciousness.
Science and technology have contributed great digitized advancements directed toward driver assistance in continuous and immediate situational analysis, aimed at preventing and controlling the not-so-rare ”all of a sudden”, “emerge-urgencies”, the sensors and controls operate over the physical conditions that are recognized to contribute to crashes; tire/surface slip rates, proximity to hazards, perceptive aids and those protective mechanisms that protect persons within the car in the event of catastrophic, Newtonian collision. The achievements are significant.
Still, problems occur and are unresolved. Even with historic, conventional equipment, behavioral usage patterns demonstrate deficiencies in knowledge, ability and operation. More sophisticated equipment, mechanically working more effectively, will not resolve those deficiencies and may complicate or create unwarranted dependencies on the equipment’s abilities to “save” the problem. One sample evaluation showed that most folks, given cars equipped with ABS did not access or utilize the system in a simulated emergency, nonthreatening environment, after acknowledging they had learned how to use it in a preceding “tech talk”. Yet, these folks stated they would purchase the car with the expectation that they were safer in a car with ABS. There would be only one “best attempt” in an emergency.
The dream of a “self-intelligent” vehicle or transportation system is not all that remote. It would certainly be difficult to implement, expensive and would necessarily limit selfdirected, mobile independence and discretion. Still, untrained dependence on such systems would be just that, reliance on what some person(s) devised to resolve individual, personal problems. In the event the system was ineffective, disabled, misused or unused the drivers would still have an unresolved problem, “all-of-a-sudden”.
It remains to be seen if governments and the automotive industry can adopt those policies, procedures and training requirements that have demonstrated improvements and results in usage behavior; in Finland, in the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) or by the American Society of Anesthesiology, as deterrents to mishap, injury and fatality.
Bob Green, Instructor/Trainer survivethedrive