We are often admonished by our news broadcasters over our shocking driving, and castigated for the needless deaths on the tarmac. And as the ruling government comes back around for election, they will tell us how well they have reduced the road toll, how fewer drunks there are on the road, and the plans for more cops to patrol the highways.
But the real issue is not in enforcement, but rather our own mindsets and thoughts about road safety.
The real reason is that we don’t believe that we will be the next accident, and that is because of a number of factors.
The first is we are great at denial, we will con ourselves into thinking that “it’ll never happen to me.” Look at smokers, they must know that statistically, they will die of lung cancer (or some other ill) at a younger age than others of the same cohort; however, continue to play out that they will somehow cheat the system, or become resigned “I know these are probably killing me, but hey, you only live once.”
Road users also fall into those categories, we (myself included) know that driving is a dangerous pastime, and we might just be in an accident one day, but most of the time is barely think about it, and drive with casual abandon.
Then you have those who will drive like idiots, have to pass, have to be in front, have to win the race, they will take risks that most of us will get our blood boiling! (and I too have driven like a total jerk, and caused a couple of accidents)
But why do they do that?
They/we/I believe that we are safe in the knowledge that the car will keep us safe and the rest will get the hell out of the way.
The Safety Paradox
The safer something is, the more blase we become and the denial of harm increases. the more things like active cruise control, collision avoidance, airbags and so forth, lessen our perception of danger. So the safer something is, the more dangerous it becomes.
So no matter how safe our cars are, no matter how many police are on the road, we will get people that are maimed, injured and killed, that is until we are no longer in charge of the wheel.
More on self-driving cars later.