Car drivers slow themselves down

This may all seem obvious given the general lack of self awareness on the part of car drivers. However, it is worth pointing out ways in which car drivers inevitably cause their journeys to become slower over time through their bad/dangerous driving habits.

Everytime a driver overtakes a cyclist in a way that the cyclists feels is dangerous there are a number of ways that will cause delays in the future for the driver.

1. Some cyclists will stop riding a bike because they feel unsafe.

At this point they will increase congestion and thus slow the driver down in the future.

Every mode of transport that the cyclist switches to will cause more delay for the driver (with the possible exception of walking). The obvious case is where the cyclist starts using a car rather than their bike. However, switching to public transport will often result in more delays for car drivers than a bike. For example buses will take longer to fill up at bus stops, will need to stop more frequently. If they switch to the train (or in London the underground) then with the current levels of overcrowding on many lines it is likely that someone else will tire of the overcrowding and switch to a car.

2. Other cyclists will become more assertive.

This is what I find myself doing. I notice that when cars overtake when I do not feel it is safe I respond by taking the road more often, by moving out from the kerb so that cars cannot overtake when I don’t feel it is safe.

The more cars behave in ways that threaten my safety the more likely I will pull out earlier into the centre of the lane when

  • approaching islands in the middle of the road
  • when there are bends with poor visibility
  • when there are cars coming the other way
  • when there is a queue of stationary or slow moving traffic ahead

so each scary driver directly causes delays for the drivers behind.

3. Cyclists will take action

We see that more and more when cyclists feel threatened by car drivers they are turning to technology, particularly the use of video cameras so they can catch and report dangerous drivers.

Getting caught on a video like this will cause your journeys to slow down. Hopefully it will be because your license has been taken away and have to retake your driving test before being allowed to drive  again. In less serious cases it would be good if your insurance company could see the video and increase your insurance premiums. One day it may mean that you are restricted in what you are licensed to drive – no more fast cars for people who have demonstrated an inability to use them safely.

As the price and inconvenience of technology continues drop the more that dangerous car drivers who frighten cyclists will be caught on video and the greater the consequences of being caught red handed on video will be.

4. The car driver will kill or injure a cyclist

Inevitably the more often a car driver overtakes a cyclist in a dangerous way the more likely it is that they will kill or injure a cyclist. Killing or injuring someone is going to delay your future journeys.

It will delay the current journey (unless you wish to leave the human race by ignoring the person you have just hit – in which case the consequences will hopefully include prison where you won’t be making any journeys).

Delays to your future journeys will come from the weight of responsibility and guilt on your shoulders for the death/injury you have caused. It has the potential to affect every part of your life.

Delays will come from the legal consequences of your actions. Time lost in the police investigation, in the court case & in the time off work. They will come from the penalties  such as loss of your driving license and maybe the loss of your freedom and your job.

Conclusion

Making car drivers more self aware and more willing to consider the the consequences of their actions is not an easy thing to do (if it were then they would not be buying gas guzzling SUV’s or cars able to do 120mph or driving their kids to school etc).

Yet it seems to me that our policy makers,  police & courts have significant opportunites to make our roads safer by making the consequences of dangerous and inconsiderate driving much more visible to drivers.

We need much more severe consequences for drivers who kill or seriously injure others. We need to be much better at catching and prosecuting dangerous drivers and stopping them continuing with their behaviour.

Only when all drivers are made aware of the impact their driving behaviour can have on their own lives is there any change they change their behaviour.

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