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What is the biggest threat to safe driving?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / August 1, 2005 10:10 AM PDT

Cell phones (tell us why)
Car stereos (tell us why)
DVD players (tell us why)
Navigation systems (tell us why)
People with road rage (tell us why)
Kids (tell us why)
Bad drivers (tell us why)
Other (what is it?)

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by Nocturne / August 2, 2005 6:22 AM PDT

Beyond the gadgets and kids to distract drivers, the biggest threat to me on the road is drivers that are just plain jerks. So many drivers are rude, ignorant and lousy to everyone else on the road that they appear to be trying to kill the other drivers. From cutting you off, running up your back bumper or driving like on a race track oblivious to everyone else's presence, it can be a survival test just navigating the highways around town.

Accidents happen and people sometimes slip-up and don't see something, but that is inescapable. I would rather get these jerks off the road than do away with cellphones and radios. A little common decency and consideration would make the rest of the problems easier to deal with.

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by ecterry / August 2, 2005 2:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Jerks

It could be worse, what if you had to live with them!

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Dumb Jerks
by wanop / August 3, 2005 2:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Jerks

I agree about the attitude, but it's worse than that. The jerks don't know what they're doing. It's not that they cut you off, but that they reduce everybodys' risk window by reducing the amount of following space for the driver they just cut off. Four wheel drive gets you into trouble twice as fast, but the brakes that get you out of trouble are the same. Imitating the commercials is a sure fire way of bending the ride. Have any of these people taken a course where they practice driving to the limits, so they know what the limits are?

Couple that with inattention by having the stereo so loud that it would take a Bagdad bomb to overwhelm it (have you ever seen one of them directly in front of a fire truck that's using it's horn as well as the siren?), and multi-tasking with a cell phone/eating/drinking coffee/doing their cosmetics/babling with a crowd/reading something, and they are primed for a collision.

Ask any of these people what safe driving "looks" like, and you'll get a blank stare. Ask them what safe driving "feels" like (particularly in bad weather), and they'll start doing something else. See if they ever check their rear view mirror when driving forward. Ask them while they're driving if they know what's around them, and what the others are doing.

For the power trippers, ask them what four wheel drive is actually meant to do. Ask them what it's not good at doing.

In short, the amount of proficiency that's demanded of them is so little that it's scary. Once licenced they're supposed to improve their performance by experience, without any supervision.

So to answer the question, it's actually all of the above. The only question is how the dolt we're talking about is combining the risk factors to determine their personal collision index.

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How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones
by new england / August 3, 2005 7:26 AM PDT
In reply to: Dumb Jerks

Absolutely correct! It's a very dangerous world out there and the traffic police are overwhelmed. You must protect yourself. How? Take a Defensive Driving class (6 hours long). In many states, you even receive a 15% discount (for 3 years) on your compulsory insurance, in other states (eg. CT) there's no discount. But the knowledge of how to avoid a collision is priceless. How much is your safety worth? A lot more than the cost (about $40) of this course or the savings. We take the class every three years without fail. Good drivers can become better drivers. The classes are available most everywhere from the National Safety Council, AARP, and similar agencies. Do it!

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by photobuff55 / August 4, 2005 11:16 AM PDT
In reply to: Dumb Jerks

I agree with much of what you said. Which is one reason why I made a point of taking my children out to the local parking lot after a substantial snowfall and making them experience trying to stop quickly and other maneuvers in our 6000 lb conversion van. You CANNOT appreciate what a trucker has to deal with until you get behind the wheel of something large yourself. I can't tell you how many times I had to hit the brakes so hard I left skid marks to avoid rear-ending someone who cut me off - at 35MPH! Auto drivers don't understand what it takes to stop a 6000 lb vehicle and don't respect what a large van can do if it DOESN'T stop! One time in particular I'll never forget ... bad thunderstorm, stop lights were out, street lights were out, and it's a 3-way intersection where I needed to turn left. Oncoming traffic wasn't stopping at all, so even tho it was supposed to be like a 3-way stop sign, I sat there forever waiting for clearance. I finally started my turn just in time to have someone in this little Geo Metro come barreling thru, hitting my van square in the passenger door. I had a bashed in door, my kids were fine, but his car was totalled. It all goes back to driving defensively, anticipating the situation, and SLOWING DOWN!

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by skyview2u / August 4, 2005 1:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Jerks

The simple truth is that drivers need to understand and follow the rules of the road. Too many seem totally unfamiliar with the requirement to YIELD to the driver with the legal right of way. Rather it seems that many (if not most) opperate their vehicles as though they firmly believe they always have the right of way and everyone else should YIELD to them.

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It depends on where you live
by JakeChance / August 4, 2005 2:34 AM PDT
In reply to: Jerks

Like someone else wrote about Mooses being a big problem in NH and VT and Kangaroos being dangerous in Austrialia, the problems vary on the location of where you are living. I grew up in NJ and have avoided tons of accidents by remembering what my awesome driving instructor told me back in high school. "Just assume everyone else on the road is a complete *******, cause chances are they either 1) are, or 2) will do something stupid as we all do from time to time." He was so right. I think more people fit in category 1, but we're all human and need to look out for our own errors as well as those around us.
I was going 45 down a 40 MPH road once and a very old woman pulled out infront of me from a side street. If I hadn't been looking ahead at all of the side streets I would have missed this and instead of getting the finger she would have gotten killed (I was kidding about the finger, she was old so that'd just be mean, but it makes the sentence flow better).
Now I'm living in MA and its a completely different game up here. There are more busses for one thing, which you must learn to avoid and pass quickly, and people are much more agressive drivers as the roads around the Boston area (around routes 2(A), 3, and 16) are awful. Again paying attention to the other idiots on the road has saved me a few times, same as people paying attention to my stupidity has saved them and me. You'd also better know the area or have someone else know the area as tons of strees aren't marked or marked well and present an additional hazard.
I don't know how it is in other parts of the country but we need harder driving tests to keep more idiots off the road in New England.

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by ganmoo / November 24, 2005 6:24 PM PST


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Hear, Hear Nocturn!
by networkboy / November 24, 2005 9:09 PM PST
In reply to: Jerks

All the things you mentioned and BASIC DRIVING SKILLS like lane discipline!!

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Lane Discipline
by ar1zona1 / November 25, 2005 12:33 AM PST
In reply to: Hear, Hear Nocturn!

And lane discipline also means yielding to faster moving traffic by moving to the right lane!

The aggressive drivers get all the attention on the news, but too often it's the slow poke in the left lane who thinks since they are below the speed limit they don't have to get out of anyone's way that causes traffic safety problems.

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Lane discipline?
by photoxprt / December 7, 2005 10:33 PM PST
In reply to: Hear, Hear Nocturn!

Lane discipline?
Lane dis-ci-pline?
Would that have ANY relationship at all to SELF-discipline?
As a former Navy officer, scout leader, manager etc., I have found that too many people nowadays have grown up with NO real concept of discipline. When too many children can get their parents into trouble for so much as swatting their butts!
I am apalled!
NO body paid me or gave me ANYthing while I was raising MY kids. What gives them the right to try to tell me how to raise them? I never beat on my kids or sent them to the hospital; but they sure learned not to lie,cheat, steal or any number of other follies. They were NOT fond of my belt!
I may have to take it all back.
I may be entirely wrong.
It MAY be ENTIRELY thr problem that people can't HELP themselves for being jerks!
It may be too late for us good drivers!
The earth may soon be swallowed by obnoxious, toxic self-serving creeps with NO regard for ANYONE else!!
FLEE while you CAN!!!!

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by protagonistic / November 25, 2005 1:14 AM PST
In reply to: Jerks

Ever notice how so many of them seem to drive behemoth SUV's that never manage to make it off the pavement? Happy

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advanced motorists
by HarryVe / November 27, 2005 6:40 PM PST
In reply to: Jerks

If people would do the institute of advanced motorists driving test, road accidents would be cut by up to 75%

Wake up drivers and save a life (YOURS!)


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biggest threat is bad drivers
by marydawn7 / August 2, 2005 6:31 AM PDT

First of all it is becoming more clear that parents aren't as able to instruct their children in driving as much as they used to we are just too conjested. Drivers education has become a joke. The kids here just have 3 road trips and may not even have an opportunity to drive in any given trip. Pratice makes perfect or at least a little better. If drivers ed lasted a whole semester and they actually had to learn the book work and had the hands on driving every day for several weeks then our roads would be safer for everyone.

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not all bad drivers are teenagers
by eulalia / August 2, 2005 7:37 AM PDT

Don't blame all bad driving on teenagers.

I voted for Bad Drivers too. It's not that I consider myself a great or even good driver. I admit I am mediocre. At least I know the rules and try to follow them. But I see bad driving every day and my commute to work is only 2.6 miles! The bad driving I see is people who either don't know the rules or can't be bothered to follow them. When I pass someone driving bad, I take a quick peek at the driver. I have found that you just can't categorize bad drivers. They come in all ages, all genders, all colors, all socio-economic groups. Sure, I have seen my share of bad drivers who were preoccupied with their stereos, or a cell phone call, or smoking, or having problems with children in the car. Yet, the vast majority of dangerous driving I see fits into none of those categories.

So here's a list of bad driving habits that have nothing to do with technology:
1. Switching lanes near an intersection. I saw a woman killed once because another driver cut off a big rig that was trying to break for a red light. The big rig jack-knifed and killed a woman in a stopped car in the next lane. The driver who caused the accident drove away when the light turned green. It made the newspaper. They never caught the driver who caused it.
2. Not using turn signals to signal lane changes.
3. Not being polite enough to allow someone signaling to merge or change lanes.
4. Not knowing the rules regarding a 4 way stop or yield sign.
5. Tailgating.
6. Driving on the wrong side of the road.
7. Driving in the break down lane.
8. Zigzaging in and out of traffic on a multi-lane street or highway.
9. Making turns from non-turn lanes. (If you missed your turn, go around the block or make a u-turn at the next light!)
10. Driving too fast on curvy or wet roadways.

I could go on and on.

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Bad drivers are people many of those who think they are good
by rem227 / August 2, 2005 7:48 AM PDT

Odd statistics.
80% of driver think they are good but 80% of the other drivrs are bad. I think that needs 60% must be wrong.
Conclusion: Drivers must work harder at fixing their own driving before they critcize other drivers.

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I agree
by jlinck / November 25, 2005 12:27 AM PST

Your keen observation that most drivers are in fact "bad drivers" solidly rings the bell of truth. Carelessnees, lack of attention, egomaina, road rage and just poor judgement rank very high on the list.

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(NT) Drivers Ed
by CrazyBare / August 2, 2005 8:32 AM PDT

Drivers Ed is not a joke.

But I do agree that people need more practice before being allowed to drive alone.
Cell phones are NOT the problem. People just not paying attention (smoking, make-up, GPS etc) is distracting people just as much as Cell phone. You can't blame only one thing.

I'd like to see the police crack down on drivers who ignore the rules of the road in regard to Turning. Far too many people are making illegal left AND Right hand turns these days.

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Re: biggest threat is bad drivers
by PitViper007 / August 2, 2005 11:16 PM PDT

That's assuming that your school system even has driver's ed any more. Various school systems in my area don't even provide it any more. Go figure.

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by photobuff55 / August 4, 2005 11:27 AM PDT

I can appreciate what you're saying, but at least in Illinois the laws are more stringent now for teen drivers. I'm on my third teen learning to drive, and now they must have 25 documented hours of practice, and they must bring the piece of paper that parents have initialled with them to get the license. Yes, it's possible to fudge this, but why would any parent in his/her right mind do so? Also, for the first six months teen drivers have their license, they are only allowed one other passenger (other than immediate family) who is under the age of 20, and there are rules about driving after dark as well.

My daughter has only just finished drivers' ed. Her class was only 9 weeks in summer school (it is a whole semester during the school year), but they had a textbook, projects involving topics like what intersection would you improve in your town and why, and both simulator and behind the wheel instruction. In theory she could get the license on her birthday next week, but in reality her dad and I have already said it will be at least January and perhaps longer if we don't get enough snow for her to practice bad weather driving first. Laws provide the framework, and school provides the forum for learning, but parents have the last word and the responsibility to make sure their kids learn as much as possible before turning them loose on the big bad world. Much of it is just learning the hard way, unfortunately, but you can equip them with the ability to make the correct decisions as much as possible.

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Bad Drivers
by Twhegener / August 11, 2005 12:54 PM PDT

The number one thing i have seen as a driver is people not using their turn signals, if you ever notice people on the road they never use them, as a driver it really irritates me me. I have almost gotten into many accidents because of this. I have seen people hit each other doing this. Just watch them. I use my signal all the time. It is not only a warning, it is a life saver. Trust me.

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Good drivers are sensible
by cmartin / November 24, 2005 11:10 PM PST

I believe the biggest threat is bad drivers. Good drivers are sensible enough to have all the other possible threats named in the test under control, mainly because they are aware of their environment, the dangerous activity they are engaged in, and the responsability it entails.

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Drunk drivers kill about 14,000 people every year.
by sharpeagle / November 25, 2005 3:58 AM PST

You talk about bad drivers being a problem and they are. But Drunk drivers are one of the worse. Bad and drunk drivers come in all ages and sexes. They need to be removed from the road. Driving with Cell phones has gotten alot of publicity but they are a small part of the problem. They need to be more careful but if you are drunk you need to be removed!!

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Incredibly only 2000 in Iraq
by trolsen / November 25, 2005 12:05 PM PST

Thank god we have only lost 2000 of our service people in iraq, etc. since the beginning of the war. At the rate of Drunk Driving we have lost 42,000 in the same time period.
Why can't the news media spend more time and effort trying to stop drunk driving and the terrible effects it has on our innocent in this country instead of spending so much effort making our country look bad because of the Iraq war.
Let's put priorities where they belong and make our roads safer.

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Bad drivers
by mauiboy / August 2, 2005 6:33 AM PDT

A good driver can handle just about any distraction for a short period of time... if you are aware of your surroundings, it is possible to make or answer a call, change radio stations or insert a new disk. Bad drivers are the ones who belive that the call, or make-up, or coffee, or whatever is the most important thing they are doing, rather than navigating 2 tons of steel through congested streets. Problem is, bad drivers are bad even without distractions!

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Here Here!!
by Pat Bonnar / August 2, 2005 8:20 PM PDT
In reply to: Bad drivers

I have been a passenger in some of those cars. They are oblivious to all that is going on around them. I cringe when they reach over to change a channel. It is so bad that I do more than my share of driving to avoid having them drive. They get on a highway with a 55 MPH speed limit and sit in the left lane going 50. We have people finally getting around them and glaring into the car. Some of them are the cause of road rage. They can tie up traffic for miles and be oblivious to it all.

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Bad Drivers...the real cause
by GregS13 / November 25, 2005 12:12 AM PST
In reply to: Bad drivers

I agree wholeheartedly! As a retired military pilot I can tell you that if we had to "just fly the aircraft", we wouldn't have made it. Driving is a full time job too. The "so called studies" on cell phones being the cause of accidents aren't entirely true. I would like to see a study on everything around the a passenger they turn their head to talk in the back seat..hey, while we are on this, how about the other cars on the road? They are distractions too! Let's get rid of them. Let's get serious. Bottom like you want to get there alive. Take responsibility when you get behind the wheel. Look out for the other driver...and remember; to the other driver, you are the other driver!
Safe Driving....

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Other because....
by clsmith / August 2, 2005 6:34 AM PDT

....any of these by themselves or in combination can be enough of a distraction to become a threat to the driver and/or anyone else on the road. The more we make our vehicles miniature rolling homes/offices the more we introduce the potential of accidents occuring.

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Bad driving.
by Danny.Claudia / August 2, 2005 7:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Other because....

The problem isn't the apliences it's the way they are used. But further more, the main problem is that people can't drive fluently. They keep breaking for the most silly reason you can think of( bridge, tunnel etc.). And then theres old people and scared girls, (not a real women yet) These drive so slow that even trucks have to hit the breaks for them. there the problem.

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by microjohn / November 24, 2005 6:30 PM PST
In reply to: Other because....

Insurance records show that the primary driving distraction behind accidents is eating while driving.

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