Something that has long amazed me is that people actually claim to enjoy driving cars. I find driving for everyday journeys is quite excruciatingly boring. I could see the attraction if people went to track days and raced around with other like minded people. A bit of speed, a bit of danger, testing your skills etc. I think I could enjoy that myself. After all, racing bikes is great fun. However, it seems that a remarkably small number of people who claim to like driving cars actually ever do it competitively at any level at all. Except perhaps on a computer screen. I really think that's a shame.
Anyway, back to the boredom of driving... Cars manage to make speeds of over 100 km/h ( 60 mph ) a sleep inducing experience. Bicycles make 50 km/h ( 30 mph ) into a fairly scary experience which demands that you're alert, and 80 km/h ( 50 mph ) down a hill on a bike is quite terrifying. I always think of all the things that could go wrong, and how injured I'd be if they did.
I think boredom explains an awful lot of why there are so many deaths and injuries on the roads. So many SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You) type incidents. Drivers are simply bored, or distracted by something more interested, and not concentrating. There are regular campaigns around the world to encourage drivers to sleep well before driving, take breaks every so often on long journeys etc. but this is frequently ignored. This boredom is a good part of the reason why campaigns to encourage drivers to behave perfectly never actually work. It doesn't really matter how good a driver you'd like to be if you're half asleep at the wheel.
Crashes due to drivers falling completely asleep are quite common. Other incidents due to loss of concentration are also common. In fact, driving is so sleep inducing that even an insomniacs' website warns of the dangers of falling asleep while driving.
Campaigning for drivers to always behave perfectly, and for cyclists to always behave perfectly, will never eliminate this problem. Cyclists will continue to be the victims of crashes with drivers while bikes are mixed with cars on the roads. Separating the modes is the only way of significantly improving the safety of cyclists. It worked here in the Netherlands, where cycling is safer than in any other country.
The poster image is from a Dutch campaign against "slaaprijden." It reads "2 hours driving, quarter of an hour rest - " It is one of many such pieces of advice being handed out on the campaign website. These posters appear beside the motorways in order to remind drivers of the importance of taking a rest from driving.
So I'm going to stick to riding bikes (and trikes) for most of my journeys. I'll stay awake, and I'll enjoy the experience.
I've always seen driving as a boring activity. I was 27 before I bothered to learn to drive. On moving over here my license became invalid and for over two years I had no legal driving license at all, which was no problem as I didn't need to use a car in that time. In December I got a Dutch license, primarily so I can take my turn with driving the company van. One of my favourite videos showing driving as a boring activity is here.
Birmingham Schools' Traffic Carnage
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