He’s joking, but I attribute a large part of my never having caused an accident (been rear-ended sitting at a stoplight twice) to three main factors:
- I drive fast. I always have. I don’t drive overly-aggressively or dangerously (what I attribute to never having been ticketed for speeding) but I’m usually moving faster than the average speed of traffic. It really forces you to pay attention, and to consciously track the other cars on the road as well as how they’re being driven.
- I drive sports cars. Aside from being more fun (see above) I think there’s a huge amount of added safety in having better handling, better braking, and more road feel. My body and/or life has been saved several times from being able to avoid or accelerate out of a dangerous situation. For instance, an SUV in front of me blew a tire and veered into my lane before rolling. An emergency two-lane change at 75 isn’t child’s play, but my car handled it with aplomb and I swung around to the right. The Camry behind me handled it more poorly though, locking up the brakes and slamming into the side/top of the SUV.
- Sports cars aren’t isolated. The vast majority of cars sold seek to eliminate as much external sensory input as is economically possible. Some even advertise how little it will feel like you’re driving, sporting noise isolation, cushy suspensions, heated/cooled/vibrating seats…and the complete elimination of any external stimuli that will remind you you’re hurtling two tons of metal and flammable liquid down an asphalt road and controlling it with a grand total of two square feet of rubber at any given moment. Driving is dangerous, but also routine. The elimination of all of those “uncomfortable” elements - even in the name of increased consumer satisfaction - coupled with that habitualized and routine nature of the process, is inherently dangerous.
30 miles an hour, comfortable, thinking about your day, not feeling or hearing a thing around your car is how accidents happen. You’re not paying attention because your car is designed to make you feel like you’re not driving a car. Distracted driving isn’t just cell phones, it’s anything - even your own car - that’s inherently designed to keep you from “having to” think about driving in the first place.
Cosigned on the above. The past year of riding a bike in NY and driving a manual sports car in hilly Austin has led to the development of an acute awareness of my surroundings on any given commute, after 11 years of being in what I now see as a frightening state of sheer lucky-to-be-alive oblivion.
My most inexperienced driving years were spent driving a quiet car in south Florida, where I’d pass countless accidents on suburban roads and at least two flipped or burning cars on the interstate per month, and had the time or the gall to snap photos plenty of those times.
My perspective now is a pretty honest one: When driving, I’m operating heavy machinery. On a bike, I’m sharing the road with operators of heavy machinery, most of whom are oblivious to the fact that they are operating heavy machinery.
Mind is focused on surroundings, hands are occupied by the wheel / shift knob / handlebars. No time for dilly-dallying, daydreams or devices.