Idiot is actually an acronym made from the phrase “Ignorant Driver is Obsessively Texting,” so, perhaps it should be capitalized. To make this post easier to read, however, it shall remain represented in the usual way.
Perhaps it’s confirmation bias—the natural inclination to see what you want to see and ignore the rest—but it just seems that more and more drivers are idiots (see the above definition; it is assumed to be ‘the one’ throughout this post). Take a closer look at the drivers beside you the next time you are in traffic. No doubt you’ll see an alarming number of mobiles in use. And at the red lights: down go the eyes. No, the drivers are not smiling as they discover that their zippers are, in fact, pulled up. Just look at the pale bluish glow that lights the faces. It’s the light from the display on the mobile. Green light: nobody moves until the ONE driver not on the mobile finally leans on the horn in frustration. And the left-turning drivers you see while you are stopped? They are texting too. …while making a left turn in front of traffic!
And NO, this is not to suggest that we should augment the green lights with a ‘beep beep’ signal to tell the drivers to put away the phones.
But this is to suggest that we have a problem out there on the roads—a big dangerous problem. There’s probably not one of you who does not have a story of a near miss—or perhaps a fatality—caused by an idiot driver. I have been affected three times: two friends-of-friends have been killed in two separate vehicular accidents and one good friend was run over by an idiot while he was out running. He suffered a broken back, among other things, and, two years later is nowhere close to being back to normal.
It’s not enough to say that we need laws against the use of mobiles by drivers. We already have them. The problem is, though, that idiots truly feel that those laws do not apply to them. It’s not necessarily that they feel ‘above the law,’ generally; no, it’s far worse than that. Idiots truly believe that they can multi-task; that they can do it safely while driving. Of course they cannot! The real truth is that idiots are not self-aware enough to realize that they are wrong. Or maybe they are just stupid…
It’s not enough to say that we need more policing. Law enforcement is complicated (that is, highly skilled) and therefore very expensive for tax-payers. It’s unlikely that any government will put the massive number of extra officers on the street to combat what is not at the moment an issue deemed important enough by the general population. That is, the outcry is not loud enough to goad the government leaders into getting it done.
No, the answers lie elsewhere. As is generally the case for social issues there will be no one ‘killer-app’ response. Rather the solution, if it indeed happens, will likely be a combination of creative measures including:
- Efforts (similar to those that MADD have done to curb drinking and driving) to shape public opinion such that idiots are generally frowned upon by the community.
- Technical safety solutions installed on new vehicles such as stay-in-lane assists and collision avoidance systems.
- Self-driving cars. Yes—major companies, including Google, are spending major resources on this.
- And, yes, better legislation coupled with more effective enforcement.
In the meantime watch out for the idiots and be safe.