Why do motorists seem increasingly incompetent? Well maybe because the traffic engineers keep trying to design the roads to compensate for irresponsibility and stupidity. Everything and everyone must be gotten out of the way of the incompetent!
When you design the system for minimal attention to the task, guess what you get?
Chipseal has an excellent post on the dumbing down of the American motorist:
It is foolishness to think we can reduce the carnage by making safer roads while ignoring the attitude of society toward responsible public behavior. There is no shame in poor driving skills, and no scandal if you cause a wreck and property damage. Changing this cavalier attitude would be more effective than “fixing the roads”.
Technology is doomed in an arms race with fools; There are so many of them and they are persistent and innovative!
Wonderfully sharp and funny!
On a serious note, there have been a barrage of crash reports in the last 6 months involving motorists veering off the road and killing cyclists on shoulders and bike lanes. I hate to bring them up, because it just scares people. It is statistically rare in a country of 300 million people… it just seems common because it makes the news. But it should not ever happen!
Our society continues to minimize and shrug off the serious responsibility of driving a motor vehicle. We treat it like an entitlement. We mask the responsibility for behavior in the language we use. And we keep trying to solve it from the wrong end.
If we are ever going to fix this problem we need to grow up and address the root causes. We will not have equity and justice in our traffic culture until:
- we raise the level of testing and competence required for a driver’s license,
- invest in alternative transportation so that a private automobile is not a necessity,
- uphold appropriate punishment for irresponsible driving, and
- return a sense of personal responsibility back to our social system.
This affects us, but it is not a bicycle specific issue. Neither is the deflection of focus specific to motoring culture. It’s the same pervasive mentality we see in popular bicycle advocacy—focusing on external and superficial stuff to avoid drilling down to the root causes of problems. Heck, why bother doing the hard work to cure the disease when you can simply mask the symptoms and no one is the wiser.