Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Newton was Right, f=m(a)

I watched an easily avoided wreck** develop and happen yesterday.

A relatively new Ford Pick-up passed me on the right and slid into the gap between the car in front of me and me. It then proceeded to allow less than 1 car length to the Accord in front of it. Meantime, the pick up driver is using his cell phone. We come to a slow down at an interchange and Accord slows down, the Ford did not. Result? One wiped out Accord and a mildly dinged Ford Pick-up.

A rare occurence? I don't know, but with all the driving I do, I regularly see a lot of similarly agressive/inattentive driving. I am surprised that more wrecks like this do not happen.

Driving has become increasingly aggressive over the last few decades and our freeways at times resemble a NASCAR race more than a commute. Adding to the problem are distractions associated with Cell Phones, hot coffee, etc.. What is the solution? More agressive enforcement of driving laws? Ban cell phones in cars? Require driver training every time a license is renewed?

What are your thoughts?

** if its avoidable its no "accident" its a wreck


Fantastagirl said...

You are right - if it was avoidable and this was - it's not an accident.

I'm guilty of talking on the cell phone and driving. But I can say I haven't had a wreck or accident while using the cell-phone. Our state looked into baning the cell phones while driving, and then the legislative members realized that it would apply to them also...and got no where.

Ed Abbey said...

American driving is getting progressively worse almost by the second. I see at least five accidents in our town paper (pop. 10,000) per week where someone rear ended someone else because they were following too close.

I guess you can blame some of it on cell phones. I place the majority of the blame on ourselves believing it is our right to own and drive vehicles. It is a priviledge and a luxury and too many people take it for granted.

My solution, charge thousands of dollars just to get your drivers license like many European countries and enforce stiffer penalties for habitual offenders such as impounding the vehicle and cutting up the license.

Åsa said...

Mallory: I got my license in one of those European countries where it's really expensive and you have to be 18 to drive. I also have a CA license. The test to get a CA license is a joke. I'm thinking if the driving tests where harder and the schooling more thorough: you'd get better drivers. Heck! I had friends in CA who had basically never driven on asphalt before and they got their license.

I don't won’t to ban talking on the cell since I do that all the time!

Freewheel said...

One solution: More bike lanes and trails. :)

Old Man Rich said...

Using a phone whilst driving is against the law over here.
Which is a shame as I'm pretty much of the opinion thatt most mobile phone users deserve a serious injury.

jj mollo said...

So, in keeping with Newton, drivers who cause rear-enders or get ticketed for tailgating shouldn't be allowed to drive trucks. They should be restricted by mass (smaller car) and/or acceleration (smaller engine).

Maybe we could make it the rule that if you get hit from behind, you get to switch vehicles if you want.

Sounds like this guy was trouble anyway -- passing on the right, weaving in and out of traffic. I hope he was embarrassed.

The big difference I've seen in twenty years is that women are much more aggressive in their driving habits. It used to be rare, although I did have a great aunt who got a speeding ticket on her 92nd birthday.

jj mollo said...

He was probably on the cell phone right after the accident as well. Oou oou! I have it. Confiscate the cell phone!

Grant said...

I recommend replacing air bags with high explosives. When people realize that all accidents will be invariably fatal, they will begin to pay attention.

Chris Hughes said...

That there is an 88 or 89 accord. I know cause I used to have one. Sold it for a Ford pickup!

Whenever I see a driver yaking on the cell phone - I get as far away as possible. 9 times out of 10 - when I see someone driving dangerously - they are also holding that cell phone to their ear. Sheesh!

Jessica said...

And yet Minnesota is a state with no-fault insurance laws.

anchovy said...

Forgive me, but having to fork over thousands to the state for a license merely keeps poor folks off the road. That some folks propose more government regulation (tougher tests and higher fees) is like nails on a chalkboard to me.

The solution is what is has always been: you visit the costs of stupid mistakes upon the person who made the mistake. You don't punish everyone else. The guy in the pick-up will pay dearly for his mistake to make his victim whole again. Arguably he should pay even dearer if we want to encourage better driving. I'd be willing to consider ways of accomplishing that, but no more.

Interestingly, when insurance is compulsory, the disincentive to get into an accident is lessened and so is counterproductive to resolving the problem of negligent drivers. See, in reality, the guy in the truck probably won't feel much of a pinch because his liability insurance will cover most of the cost. And who ultimately bears the cost? The other policy holders whom the state compels to be insured.

(Incidentally, this is probably similar to the way ubiquitous health insurance keeps medical costs high by interfering with the usual mechanisms of competition that would put downward pressure on them.)

anchovy said...

As an aside of interest only to the uber geeks, I was always taught that Newton expressed the Second Law in terms of momentum and not mass so that the expresion looks more like F=k dM/dt where k is a constant of proportionality equal to 1 when we use SI units, F is force and M is momentum. Not that it makes much difference in most cases, but the differnetial expression of the Second Law always made more sense to me when considering those classic textbook examples of the crashing billiard balls where the masses remain the same after the clash, and the example of the bulet fired into a wooden block where the block has a different mass after the bullet becomes embedded. It's a simple matter to adapt F=ma for each of these examples, but the differential expression states the more general case applicable to both.

Geeky, but I always thought this sort of stuff interesting. So sue me.

anchovy said...

(ok, the truth is I'm having trouble falling asleep again)

sage said...

I too am amazed there are not more accidents. however, i have been known to use a cell phone (I feel like I'm confessing at an AA meeting).

Ed Abbey said...

Forgive me, but having to fork over thousands to the state for a license merely keeps poor folks off the road.

And thus you have fallen into the mind trap that driving is a RIGHT which is is not. Nobody should be guaranteed that they will have all the finer things in life. Driving should be a PRIVILEDGE.

mal said...

Sage- I have used a cell phone too, but I NEVER forget that my first priority is operating the vehicle

Little Fish- you are right, you need more sleep *L*..great points though

Jessica- I still wonder if that is a good thing?

Chris- Wise move

Grant-Darwin Tech in action?

JJ-I think this guy belonged in a Yugo

Freewheel-it would help

Asa- I suspect the driver training in Europe is a bit more thorough too. I got my first license in California too. It is a joke. Scary part? I know people who failed the test

Ed- ditto on Asa. Increase the requirements (not fees)

Fantasta- I am guilty too. I also remember my FIRST priority is operating the vehicle. The call can (and has) wait.

jj mollo said...

Grant and Anchovy have been reading Freakonomics.

Åsa said...

And Mallory is right: it's not that it's more expensive to go to the DMV in Sweden to get the licens (that's not expensive at all), it's the tests that are so difficult that you have to have gone through a lot of schooling to be able to pass. The schools are private and you can also study on your own and drive with your parents if you want: as long as you pass the test.

Åsa said...

Oh and I thought grant's suggestion was hilarious!

Gary said...

Just catching up on blogs after two weeks in the sunny Med...

In the UK you lose your licence after you've racked up twelve penalty points, seems reasonable ?

Not when you consider that you automatically get three points for using a cell phone in your car, and three points for all minor speeding offences (more for the serious speeding ones).

With the proliferation of speed cameras which dish out three points in the post to you automatically you could easily pick up twelve points just driving into town any day of the week.

My daughter has just passed her driving test this year after nine months of tuition - total cost including three tests around £1000 - and new drivers only get to waste six points for the first two years.