Comment 71192

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 10, 2011 at 06:14:28

For me, two things come to mind.

Firstly, in the UK, traffic is predicated on movement. So there are more 'Yield' signs than stop-signs or traffic lights. (I'm not talking about dense areas, but moderate residential ones.) In North America, traffic is predicated on stopping. Maybe this is why the ratio of standard-to-automatic transmissions for cars is pretty much opposite.

Secondly...and far more importantly...I don't think the psychology of driving is consciously acknowledged and processed.

Driving a car, from the moment it became the mechanism for pushing the North American economy forward (as it did for almost a hundred years, with the concomitant aspects of steel, rubber and petroleum), hasn't just been about getting from Point A to Point B. It's been something far more perverse than that.

It's a means of validation.

It's a means of 'expression of self'.

It's a process whereby control is effected.

And it's about power.

The last two are probably the most important. Because in a world where physically, we're essentially limited in our 'animalness', being behind the wheel of a item weighing thousands of pounds and capable of 'magic' (being able to transport you relatively instantly to speeds otherwise impossible for a human) skews reality.

I see it in how people rev their engines when a pedestrian has cleared out of their way at a crossing, when they're expressing their impatience and peeling away.

I see it in excessive speeds on roads where speed is entirely unnecessary.

And of course, I see it in the knee-jerk reaction to proposals to reduce speed limits, to make the environment more 'liveable' for pedestrians.

Drivers believe...even if it's an unconscious belief, one they're not even aware of...that being behind the wheel somehow elevates their needs to an exalted status. I say this because I too, feel under this notion's sway every time I drive. Driving is empowering. It's fun. It makes your heart race. Anything and everyone that somehow 'impedes' this process...including other drivers, motorcyclists, pedestrians, trucks, in the other column.

And therein lies the problem.

Combined with this is the notion that driving is a right. It's not. It's a privilege that should have attached to it far more requirements, should demand far more training, far more testing, far more everything. I believe that if people actually saw driving in a different light, there would be a chance to shift things about a bit. Clearly, the way things are right now isn't working, and really; some of the resistance to 'change' and the subsequent discussions on making things better for all are far worse than absurd...they insult both intelligence and the basic tenets of being humane in an inhumane world.

More discussion, please.

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