Saturday, March 3, 2007

If only, if only...

Enthusiasts bewail the dearth of effective driver education. Send everyone to those "advanced" driving schools, they say, where the techniques of skid control, evasive maneuvering, and finding the best line through a curve will make everyone a true expert on the highways.

Unfortunately, as much as I personally would very much like to take such a course, mandating such training is highly overrated, IMO. No one has yet devised a proven method to keep drivers from crashing. I know that Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia has recently released a study saying that their training "works" in reducing crash rates. As much as I believe the school does its best at training, I remain skeptical of their expertise in conducting a valid scientific study, a possible conflict of interest notwithstanding.

As for how drivers really behave, just look in the mirror. Many of you boast in your articles, blogs, chat rooms, and letters to the editor of driving at insane speeds, "stretching it" when traffic lights turn yellow, "brake checking," and purposely damaging others' cars (keying). You know better of course, but you do it anyway.

It's attitude more than knowledge that counts, IMO. Sure there are some truly clueless or incompetent drivers out there, but my guess is their numbers are small in comparison to those whose number one priority is ME ME ME, so get out of my way or let me alone in the left lane while I yak on my cell phone!

So...we should put our bucks where they would do the most good. Every year, over 16 million new vehicles are sold in the US. Why not continue to equip them with the latest safety features that are shown to be effective, such as electronic stability control?

As far as enforcement, we can't afford to have more police on the roads, so why not use red-light cameras and speed cameras? They've been shown to be effective as well. And before you scream "Big Brother," why is it okay to be videotaped when you're in a bank, Wal-Mart, or 7-Eleven but not on a public street? (And if you obey the law on the street, you won't be videotaped, unlike the private businesses.) No one should expect a right to privacy when you're in plain view with a means of identification (your license plate) every time you venture out of your driveway in your car.

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