Monday, October 08, 2018

2004 Blind Spots and Blind Drivers UPDATE 1 to add Cuomo comments.

AP via CBS

Today’s scheduled post was supposed to be a humorous take on self-driving cars. But after a terrible accident in upstate New York, we’ll hold that one off for a while and instead examine bad driving and bad roads.

While not self-driving, today’s cars do so much of the real work of getting from here to there, we can be lulled into complacency.  We text and rely on brake radar to save us from hitting the car just ahead.  We eat and drink behind the wheel, apply makeup, ignore the turn signals, traffic signals and signs. And we ignore the roads.

We are all convinced we’re better than average drivers.  We are convinced that airbags and seat belts will protect us in a crash and we are wrong. Everyone seems convinced that every other driver is an idiot or asleep at the wheel and we are wrong.  Or at least we’re mostly wrong. Instead of heightened alertness, we experience lower attention.

It’s not just cellphones that distract us. It’s tiny crowded touch screens that do things we’re used to performing without taking our eyes off the road using big knobs and buttons. Switching radio stations, adjusting the temperature. And heaven help us if the GPS cuts out.  We’ll look down at the screen and try to reboot on the run.

So this weekend in Schoharie, New York near Albany, an awkward stretch limo with 17 passengers, party goers, and a driver came speeding down a mountain and blew a stop sign.  It slammed into an empty car in the parking lot of a country store filled with Columbus Day weekend customers and killed 20 people -- all 18 in the car and two in the parking lot.

UPDATE 3PM 10/8/18
Governor Cuomo said at the Columbus Day Parade in New York City that the driver was not properly licensed, that the car did not meet Federal standards in the way it was turned into a stretch limo. He also said the car did not pass inspection and the transportation company, Prestige Limousine of Gansevoort, NY has been temporarily shut down.

One witness said the car was doing about 60 mph.  Way too fast. Others said the intersection where the crash took place is a death trap, the site of many accidents over many years.

At this writing, we don’t know whether the car had brake trouble, the driver had a stroke or heart attack or maybe too much to drink or just fell asleep.  All we know is that there are a lot of young children who lost their parents.

But there are blind spots at every turn of practically every road.  And we should know that the most important safety feature in any car is an alert driver.

Sometimes, the road rages back.

“His fight for Brett Kavanaugh completed his transformation into Donald Trump’s slobbering manservant.” --New York Times columnist Frank Bruni on Sen. Lindsey Graham

--Do you trust polls? There are lots of good reasons not to.  People lie, statistics are malleable and questions are often loaded.

--The news website is a good, quick, reliable, well run read with excellent newsletters and an excellent staff. But it also surviving on outside cash infusions and ads from companies many of its readers shun. The hope is, they’ll eventually be profitable because if they can’t make it financially, readers will be deprived of one of the best new news sources now available.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2018

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