Practical, everyday, applied philosophy, as Nietzsche suggested

Speed, seat-belts, and BBC´s ´Top gear´: television license fee payers forced to subsidise the undermining of efforts to reduce road carnage, and the superior ideas of the South Korean authorities

How dare the presenters of BBC´s ´Top Gear´ deliberately undermine the government´s attempts to reduce the carnage on public roads by advertising, for free, a book showing how to avoid all speed cameras in the U.K. Further, they undermine attempts at educating people about the risks of speeding. These presenters and their producers should be charged with the criminal act of sedition, and for assisting with the performance of criminal activities.

Speed itself is not dangerous. It is like falling out of an aeroplane. The speed is fine, until you have to stop suddenly, a.k.a, ´you hit the ground´.

Braking distances increase non-proportionally to speed. Hence, by doubling your speed, you much more than double your braking distance.

The faster you are going when you do have an accident, the more damage you and other participants are likely to suffer.

The distance you cover before you can actually react to an incident is of course proportional to your speed. The faster you are going, the futher you will travel in the same time.

You cannot increase your reaction times by paying greater attention. That is a myth. Everyone´s reaction times are more or less equal, all other things being equal. The difference between a successful driver and a less successful one is a product of anticipation and planning ahead.

So often I have overheard people claiming that they pay greater attention at higher speed. It is infuriatingly frustrating to hear that people do not pay due attention to the road conditions and other drivers AT ALL TIMES.

In the U.S alone 119 people die in road accidents EACH DAY.  Around the world 1.2 MILLION  people die on our roads. Many many more are horribly injured and go on to suffer for the rest of their lives. The economic costs are mind-blowing.

Or is is mind NUMBING?  Do people just ´switch off´ to the real dangers of operating motor vehicles?  Accidents are things that only happen to OTHER people, right?

How dare the presenters of such a popular show, one that has brought them wealth and fame, contribute to the poor driving attitudes, ther denial,the smug complacency of the average driver!

I have written much about ´defensive´ or ´active´ driving in my TROONATNOOR books. You will also discover how to massively reduce your petrol bills, no matter what model of car you drive.

I can imagine the response on ´Top Gear´to the measures introduced in South Korea to reduce the road carnage.

I was pleased to learn, during my stay in that scenic land, that any citizen can take video footage of people breaking the traffic laws, including the use of speed cameras. They earn commissions for each violation successfully prosecuted. Now THAT  is what I call progress!

These are the kinds of measures that we desperately need, to avoid becoming the victim of other people´s hubris, denial, and self-over-estimation. Yes, it is often the most considerate and defensive drivers and their passengers who must pay the dreadful price for the ´accidents´ of others. But really, people, how can you call such pre-programmed carnage ´accidental´. 

In a fair world it would be these BBC Top Gear presenters and their producers, rather than decent, law abiding people,  who would be the next victims of speed related ´accidents´.  That would be poetic justice. More constructively, at least they should be forced to pay. They can afford it. Their ´cavalier´attitudes to cars have made them popular and rich.

Of course I do not wish such suffering upon anyone or anything. For of course millions of animals also die on our roads each year in speed related ´accidents´.

I myself was once a major contributor to resourcing the N.S.W Police, by way 0f speeding fines.  They work on most reasonable people. Fines provide a cost in our cost-benefit analyses.  All our decisions are motivated by emotions, not reason. We merely rationalise our emotion-driven decisions after the fact, to make them consistent.  Further, we wish to maintain definitions of ourselves as good, reasonable, rational creatures.

Psychology shows that if you can first change a person´s behaviour, they will then, afterwards, change their opinions, values, and beliefs to correspond to these behaviours. First comes the changes in actions,and only  then come the changes in values and attitudes. Get someone to help or hurt someone, and they will find a love or hate value, attitude, or opinion to justify having done so.

Thus we fine people, and their attitudes to speeding tend to change. Or at least this works with the more reasonble and rational among us. As with all criminal activities, some people fail to respond appropriately. They require ´behavioural correction´.  So, what are we to do with those ´Top Gear´presenters who do not accept the laws of the land, or those of physics?

We must constantly reinforce the fact that driving on public roads is a privilege rather than a right.  All such privileges come with obligations. Those who cannot meet these obligations, forfeit such priveleges.  Those who cannot or will not obey the traffic rules need a ´time out´. Those that chronically prove unable to observe such rules must lose their driving privileges , in the interests of themselves and the general public.

Official U.S studies indicate that around 78% of all car crashes are due to human error, and thus are not ´accidents´ at all. None of them would have occured if a human had not made some poor judgement.

The sort of defensive or active driving required is detailed in my  TROONATNOOR books, in which I also consider the politics of road safety and car design.

One of the key factors after speed, in determining the severity of accident damage is whether or not the passengers and drivers are wearing seat-belts. Many people still resist the legal requirement to ´belt-up´. Passengers as a result can become projectiles, killing other passengers. Remember your force is your speed times your weight. This means an adult will hit another person, or the windscreen or dashboard (in this case aptly named!) with the force of  up to a tonne. Yes, just like having a small car dropped on you.

Many people assume that air-bags negate the need to belt up. In fact they are wrong, often with fatal consequences.  Drivers commonly ´sub-marine´under their inflated airbags, hitting the dashboard with the full force of impact, and suffering fatal injuries as a result.

Airbags only assist us in surviving crashes. The primary passive safety device is the seat-belt. And remember that those who deny the laws of physics, or imagine ´it could not happen to them´, often become the projectile that kills others, their loved ones, their friends, their children.

So even if you have a guardian angel and are free of the laws of physics, take a moment to consider others in your car. Do you really want to be responsible for their deaths?  You may be a blessed exception to the laws of physics, but, statistically speaking, your passengers probably are not.

It is completely inexcuseable for people to refuse to wear seat-belts. And we all pay the price for their denial and narcissim, in terms of medical expnses, higher insurance premiums, and all the other ´collateral damage´produced by road carnage.

Refuse to drive with anyone who refuses to belt-up. Remember as a passenger it is you they will end up ´dashing´ to death.

´The Peopleś Princess´, Princess Diana,  would probably still be with us today if she had not, as  a princess, imagined herself immune from the laws of physics, and had instead humbly put on a seat-belt. Of course her fellow passengers would need to have ´belted-up´as well, to avoid becoming projectiles. And no amount of wealth and power could make Dodi Fayed immune from the same laws of physics. Please, people, learn something while you are capable of learning.

Read more about The Reality Of Our Natures And The Nature Of Our Realities in my TROONATNOOR books.

 Read more about my experiences in South Korea in Sung Seng Nim.

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