Monday, September 18, 2017

Blown Powertrain

Results are in. After nearly 2 decades of counting near misses, rude behaviors, and tantamount criminality on byways and highways, compiled significant statistics and profiled successfully those who ought to have motoring privileges permanently revoked.

Race didn't matter, although in New England you see more caucasians behind wheels versus asians, blacks or hispanics. Appearance means nothing; genetics don’t determine driving skills. All offend equally within demographic limits. Cruel carnage doesn’t discriminate. Neither would Intelligence tests exonerate those who blare horns, cut bicyclists off, force into curb, hook at turns, pass on right or too close, peel out ahead, protrude past stops, scream out windows, or throw trash bombs. Have likewise witnessed courtesies of backing up to clear path or stopping to block other vehicles to let pedalers pass. As square dancers in traffic's desperate dos-á-dos and vis-á-vis, bicyclists appreciate not being slammed into or treated as if moshpit maniacs. Exercising inalienable rights, humans move, but pundits do say dangers of bike riding have risen.

Bicyclists earn right to pass red lights and stop signs by letting faster traffic pass them while dodging actual grates and manholes, artificial menaces, and "manhole motorists”, forfeiting own share, and not messing with Mother Nature. Otherwise, benefits would barely outweigh drawbacks. Of course, this means careful and defensive road use, easier for bicyclists able to hear and see stripped of an automotive shell while rolling at only 12 mph on average. People who pick motors respect brethren less, seldom look back after squashing relentless rabbits and suicide squirrels, and too often mercilessly speed out of control.

Facile conjectures ruled out, choice of vehicle does correlate with cretins. General Motors sold a large number being operated, although in any given study year they weren't top producers in popular categories. Yet since 2001 those who drive Chevrolet and GMC cars, pickups, SUVs and vans account for 67.3% of 1200 observed incidents. In cases where personally hit, all 3 were GM. To what can this skew be attributed?

For other GMC makes - Buick, Cadillac, Corvette, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac - recorded incidents were negligible. Top selling Honda Civics, Toyota Corollas, and Volkswagen Golfs come in a distant second despite preferential road presence. According to MoneyTalks in 2016, drivers of luxury vehicles get ticketed least, a tenth as often as Chevys, Nissans and Volkswagens. Higher priced models are usually operated carefully; creasing a quarter panel by impacting a cyclist might involve huge deductibles, insurance increases, and out-of-pocket expenses. When cars cost less, do such deterrents apply? Lexus ranked as both highest and lowest, ranging 33% to 3% from least to most expensive versions.

In direct contradiction, Forbes insists Mercedes S and other luxury coupes tend to be ticketed twice the norm, but also sensible Toyota Camry sedans, which Forbes claims are driven by crones without family passengers versus minivans and SUVs. It’s self serving nonsense pandering to upmarket readers. Bicyclists disagree and will forever be more wary of landscapers hauling trailers and soccer moms speeding teams in wide transporters on suburban streets. Proves only that there's no consensus. Police miss 98% of scofflaw acts, which NHTSA attributes more to teen males than other age/gender groups, so ticket numbers don’t count. Vehicle rank is agitprop based on speculative pap, as are all statistics upon which policymakers dote.

Factors beyond numbers sold or tickets issued need to be considered. Why are incidents with Jimmies 8 times more likely than Henrys? Ford F Series pickups garnered top sales figures throughout study years, 34 million to date, yet only figure in 8.7% of complaints. FBI and police drive both Fords and GMCs equally, more than all other makes combined. Vehicle collisions kill more law enforcers than any other cause. Could there be design flaws in Chevy heavy metal that intensify driver aggression and road rage? Fear and goosebumps come from a glimpse of italic cross blazoned emphatically across a Chevy’s crucifyimg grille. Maybe that’s message intended: “Clear or die. Out of my f***ing way.”

It's well documented that bigger, higher vehicles encourage excessive speed, since drivers can see further than those in passenger cars, which conversely stop in shorter distances due to momentum differences. Also, because they can't fit through traffic breaks, wide bodies provoke impatience. This is why it's unsafe to drive near tractor trailers. Root causes could include ergonomic defects that generate discomfort or distress, such as bad suspension or poor handling typical in trucks. Triple A rated tires found on better models assert track, raise confidence, and squelch aggression. Operator cockpits require adjustability, usability and visibility. More likely, it's in attitudes of those who buy brand. Buyer remorse? With popularity of leasing, more deal short term, so not saddled with lemon hassles. Still, automotive costs drive drivers bonkers. Price for performance isn’t repaid with crumbled roads and traffic congestion. High performance Chrysler and Nissan cars recorded highest death rates, twice average, for millions miles driven in last year assessed, 2014.

Why does anyone choose a make or model? Much can be attributed to family history, nationalism (although these days everything automotive involves global manufacturing), peer pressure, pigheaded inflexibility, prejudice, previous satisfaction… same as racism. Obese drivers decide on trucks, despise subcompacts, and deride cyclists since they disrespect selves. Does frequency of occurrence warrant unprecedented warnings? Nobody heeds them, as ubiquitous as traffic tumult. Perhaps insurers could increase already exorbitant premiums. Insurance itself encourages rudeness, gives motorists a fatal illusion of safety, goads risk taking, and provides only a leaky net from legal fiascos involving millions in losses that slightest lapse of self control might elicit. The cover story that motorists are trained sufficiently to handle horsepower has already been blown. Definitely need to help real people find new roads.

Why reference if not to persuade someone and render roads a sliver safer for everyone? Could save a life, but might infuriate those profiled who believe they own road, collect tickets as if trophies, drive Chevys badly, ignore vulnerable road users, pass shamelessly on right, and weave through traffic already traveling at speed limit. Maybe rage results in net loss. They have nobody’s permission to oversleep then try to make up time by endangering others. Doesn’t work anyway; they just dart ahead to back of next jam instead of running steadily. Rush hours are riskiest time to roll; 22% of bike accidents occur between 6:00 and 9:00 PM.

Same as a border wall for which someone else will presumably pay, oversized vehicles ought to be surcharged for massive highway upgrade. Highways aren’t half as bad as local roads and neighborhood streets that require 90% of attention. Appeasing transportation angst, forcing trains to run on time, was how Mussolini consolidated control in pre-WWII Italy. Understand proposal for what it is: A tax diversion to automakers, insurers, lenders, and mobs who run construction companies. Applicants will be suckered into allegiance, but assemblers bear eroding compensation and laborers only draw <25% of project cash. This isn't the only parallel, but are enough citizens willing to identify signs and modify course before nazi gangsters take over?

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