We Do We Drive So Badly?

My daughter, the driving student, asked me why so few drivers use turn signals. I thought about it, and said it's because they derive no personal benefit from using them. Turn signals do not benefit the driver, only all the other drivers around them. It's like the group that could only eat with four-foot-long spoons: we only benefit when everyone acts unselfishly. Or obeys the law. That is an example of traffic psychology. Studies of the behavior of drivers show us that poor driving is caused by errors in perception and psychological quirks that make us notice bad driving in everyone but ourselves. The Guardian gives us ten examples, such as     

3. We forget that other drivers are people too …

When someone accidentally walks into us on the street or their shopping trolley bumps into ours, the usual reaction is to apologise and move on. But when driving, near misses are often met with instant anger – and in the most extreme cases, road rage. Research shows that drivers more readily dehumanise other drivers and pedestrians in ways they wouldn't when interacting in person. This loss of inhibition is similar to the way some of us behave in online environments.

4. … yet we behave more aggressively to those of 'lower status'

One interesting paradox is that even though we're prone to dehumanising other drivers, we still act according to social status. Decades of research shows that prolonged honking, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviours are more likely if the aggressor believes they are the more important driver. What's particularly interesting is that these judgements can be based simply on the vehicles involved, with no knowledge of the person behind the wheel: larger cars generally outrank smaller cars and newer cars trump older ones. Drivers of more expensive cars are also more likely to behave aggressively toward pedestrians.

Read the rest and see if you are reminded of anyone you know. Link  -via mental_floss


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People that don't turn their lights on during rain, fog, dusk/dawn. Turn signals.
People texting and talking on their phones not paying attention to anything else. Speeding, driving too slow.
We have it all here and then some. The texting thing bothers me the most. At a stop light waiting to go, whatever... just keep looking up so you're still not sitting there when the light turns green. But put the frickin phones away when you are moving! I can't even count how many times I've spotted people, eyes turned down as they're texting and slowly drifting in to the other lane.
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I use my turn signal all the time. It's just a habit and a flick of my fingers. Can't frickin stand it when people don't use their signals. Or how about the ones that put their turn signal on in the middle of the turn. WTF?
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A shout out to those idiots who refuse to turn on their headlights in dense fog. People die every year from pulling out in front of a car they can't see coming. I have had to lower my window and listen for cars at an intersection many times. Headlights don't improve the drivers vision in the fog but they make your car at least twice as visible to other drivers.
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I'd also like people to turn on their headlights when it starts getting dark. Headlights are not just so you can see where you're going, they're so other drivers can see where you're going. At dusk this is especially important.

Slightly different problem: There are also people who don't realize their Daytime Running Lights aren't real headlights, and your taillights aren't on. I partly blame this on the modern always-glowing instrument cluster, though. It's much easier to mistake lights for being on because DRLs can also provide just enough light to see by.
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Also, I believe that if you asked a person why they don't use turn signals, they would insist that they always do. Even if they had been observed using signals only once out of every ten times they turn.
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