Thoughts From The Saddle: Driving is Hard

When you ride a bike a lot, you get a very different view of the road, and drivers. Early in learning to ride on the roads, it is easy to conclude that drivers are actively trying to hurt you. It is only after many miles, many hours, and time to contemplate their actions that you begin to understand that the issue is not that they are out to get you, but instead that complacency, convenience and comfort have led drivers to forget one simple thing.

Driving is Hard.

The act of driving a car is a complex task that engages many skills into a single act. Just consider the skills required to control a car. Steering, controlling the speed via 2 pedals (maybe a third). Many people cannot rub their stomach and pat their head at the same time, but we are asking them to steer and control a throttle and brake at the same time. But no, it is more than that, because now that they are moving, the task also means monitoring multiple outside factors, like lane markings, road signage, road conditions, other road users, things that are not in the roadway that MAY constitute a problem. Still we aren’t done, because all of this has to be done while still maintaining the operation within a set of rules that we have applied to road usage, and avoiding other drivers that have momentary lapses.

All of that is a lot to manage. That is an enormous amount of bandwidth and compute power. These are the reasons that computers and automated cars are not yet viable, the sensors, machine learning, bandwidth and compute power just have not reached that level yet, and it may be years before we see true automation that can replace a human outside of controlled environments.

Yet, somewhere along the way we forgot that driving is a complex task, one that requires our full attention. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that we can drive while doing other things. Somehow, we have forgotten that the faster we travel the less time we have to process and make decisions.

Maybe, it is time to change the message. It is not drunk driving, it is not texting while driving, it is not distracted driving that increase the risks. It is just the act of driving itself, and everything else just makes a hard job that much harder.

How do you make a hard job easier? slow down, pay attention to details, and don’t let the distractions place you at greater risk.