Driving Awareness - an unknown factor?
Along with other posters, I have held views about speed and its relation to collisions. This caused me to recently wonder why, irrespective of driving with care and obeying all traffic laws or nipping cut-and-thrust through busy traffic, some drivers still have RTC's whilst others seem to miraculously avoid them.
Does anyone else remember, some years ago when TV advertising was in its infancy, the subject of "subliminal suggestion" arising? This involved a milliseconds flash of an ad. during normal programmes, undetectable to the eye. The idea was that it would influence buyers what brands they would purchase; and was quickly crushed by what then passed as an advertising watchdog.
But is this phenomenon at work in our everyday activities, including driving? Could a form of subliminal suggestion be unknowingly contributing to the alertness of some drivers?
Taking this a step further, as our senses are linked, is a similar factor at work regarding touch and feel? I am now thinking of the ESP facility in many modern cars, where in milliseconds the system corrects a car's threatening instability. Can some drivers develop a kind of touch-sensitive subliminal suggestion; making them so in tune with their vehicles that their responses are as quick as (or quicker than) a car's ESP?
And (you'll like this, wagolynn), could this factor reduce any rigidity of opinion of speed itself being the sole or major factor in an RTC., due to some drivers possessing (even if they don't know it) an acute sensitivity to the behaviour of the vehicle?
Of course, speed limits cannot be relaxed, because the downside is that the rules have to be set to accommodate the worst variable; that drivers can have different degrees of this "subliminal" ability, if it exists, from being highly sensitive through to no such ability at all.
If, as is popularly believed an F1 driver is the ultimate driver in terms of vehicle control, test have been done to establish why they are different, if they are. Extensive testing could not detect any changes in the basics, the conclusion was racing drivers were doing the same as, normal drivers, (depends on how you define normal) only more so.
Among the drivers I have introduced to track driving, the universal difficulties were, short concentration span, not understanding or being aware of what the vehicle is telling them and fear.
Both concentration and vehicle awareness can be put right with sufficient practice.
I feel fear has two components, fear due to ignorance of what the vehicle can safely do, practice will resolve this but the individual’s absolute confidence/fear limit will remain. In my opinion, this is where the big difference between F1 drivers and normal driver’s lies, F1 drivers are confident and their fear threshold is way beyond everyone else, if it exists at all for some.
On the track, speed is not as important as one would expect, as speed increases the brain automatically begins to shed workload (in response to adrenalin), practice helps to ensure the items ignored are the irrelevant ones, focusing on what really matters for survival, all senses are heightened (the normal fight or flight response). With practice, much of the information from the vehicle and tyres is also processed and acted upon at a subliminal level, this may well be where the ESP myth comes from, no ESP just practice.
On the road very little (brain) workload can be safely dropped (stop talking to passengers, turn the radio off, ignore the satnav), in most situations it will actually increase, hence high speed on the open road is hard work, unfortunately this will only apply if the driver is aware/experienced and has lifted his observation rate to match his speed. The trap here is it has to be experienced to be understood, this explains why emergency vehicle drivers have to be trained on the road, rather than purely on a track and why given a new car a police driver will want to see, what it can do.
As to speed limits, I believe they are the cause of much of the sloppy reaction (un planned, thoughtless) driving we see today. If drivers are expected to actively make choices for themselves, they will tend to concentrate more on what they are doing. We are currently physiologically splitting the responsibility between the driver and I suppose the road engineers. The mantra still appears to be, keep the traffic moving; again, this just nibbles away at concentration and discipline.
Sorry this so long winded but it is a big subject.
These views are my personal assessment; please feel free to contest them.
Quote...."I feel fear has two components, fear due to ignorance of what the vehicle can safely do,"
Aye! and the there are drivers who tend to rely on the fact that their car has so many safety features on it, that they don't fear anything
Subliminal advertising was bannned, I think in the '60s as cinemas were using them to get people to buy overpriced food and drink from the foyer.
First, ESP is not a myth; either in vehicles or the human brain. The differences are, in a car it is the Electronic Stability Programme, and in humans it is Extra-Sensory Perception.
I remember an article in the C.C. magazine, where a senior RAC manager (an advanced driver) met a lorry wheel lying on a bend in the road. He had his ESP switched on, and admitted that, without it, he greatly doubted that he would have successfully steered around the object.
Extra-Sensory Perception has been proven in scientific tests on identical twins.
Now, the most eminent of neurological experts freely admit that,despite the vast amount of knowledge already discovered, they still have a very long way to go in fully understanding exactly how the human brain functions.
Nobody has been able to explain how Mozart, already competent on keyboard and violin, was able to compose music by the age of five. Nobody has been able to explain how ancient astronomers were able to make predictions about the universe that are being proven correct by modern technology, or why an untrained DIY handyman can sometimes produce work superior to a professional.
And so it is with driving skills. We all judge capabilities of ourselves and others based on what we think we know; and this knowledge is only correct until someone/something proves it different.
Nobody has ever proven that the most highly trained and qualified drivers are truly the best drivers. Who can say that there are not normally taught drivers who have gone on to naturally develop driving skills far better? These drivers would be unlikely to be aware of their superior ability, because it would simply be something born in them.
As for subliminal suggestion, which probably operates on human beings on a scale of nil, up to varying degrees of effectivity, this only works because there are receptors in the brain to make it possible.
And what undiscovered receptors may exist in the brain, and what can they do which we are not yet aware of?
So what we are taught is based on the limits of the knowledge of our tutors, and what we learn for ourselves and what we believe is generally constained by those boundaries.
Oh dear there is a lot to look at snowball.
Right ESP in humans tends to disappear when subject to scientific scrutiny, though there are plenty of hearsay reports. If the RAC manager made use of the ESP built into the car, well fine that is what it is there for.
Mozart – looking at his life, he was probably a savant or tending that way.
Ancient astronomers - they were developing mathematical skills which were passed on to the rest of us.
Driving skills – I did say if F1 drivers... Yes, we can only work on the knowledge and experience we have, the clever part is to acknowledge new knowledge but critically analyse it before accepting it, most, agreed not all, new knowledge can be checked by going back to basics and working from there.
I think the latest research on subliminal advertising strongly suggest it does not actually work.
I think there is some confusion about tutors and trainers. Generally, we are not encouraged to go beyond the limits of our trainers; this is in effect, a do as you are told type of learning. But a good tutor sets out to impart his/her knowledge such that it becomes a stepping stone to greater knowledge. E.g. Take all the talk about A levels being easier, in the past the subjects were properly taught, now students are trained to pass the Exams, therefore they pass but have little understanding of the subject.
I think the corollary of what I was trying to say in post #2 is, there is a speed where the human brain gets bored, (too slow) particularly if the driver is unaware, in a driving sense, of their surroundings, they are not listening to or feeling what the vehicle is telling them, they are not looking for early warnings of danger, they are not planning but they are waiting for the next incident to try out their luck.
A good point there smudger, unfortunately, they cannot be afraid of something they do not know about, ignorance is bliss is the saying I think.
Originally Posted by smudger
One interesting theory about driving and many other 'experience' type tasks is we re-call earlier situations, from say, an enormous photo album in our heads.
So we look at a situation, haul out the nearest fit picture and check what action we took last time.
With use (experience) the pictures get classified into different groups say, stop, ignore, slow etc. and we construct an index with an ever improving cross reference enabling quicker access and of course we collect more pictures.
The proponents of this theory say a driver’s misinterpretation of a situation supports the theory as this represents the wrong picture being selected also the frequency of crashes in familiar places suggests, as we get too familiar with a picture we do not bother to play spot the difference or read the action notes.
Poor/new drivers then, may do the wrong thing for a given picture, get away with it and therefore attach the wrong actions to the situation, next time the error will be repeated but worse, reinforced.
Like all theories, it is waiting for someone to disprove it.
Last edited by wagolynn; 28-02-11 at 18:21.
Wagolynn, most people do not use the brain to anywhere near its real capabilities. So, for the few that do, any opinions in forums such as this are on the basis of the limitations applicable to the posters, and not conclusive facts when applied to those few.
The brain can take in information simultaneously from all the senses, and similarly transmit instructions for instant bodily and sensory reaction. And do all these things at speeds of response that cannot remotely be dscribed as rapidly in verbal form.
Even the word concentration is ill-used when applied to driving. For example, "concentration" can be described as someone watching, say, the actions of a predatory animal stalking its prey, to a degree that they are oblivious to anything else. Driving does not use that kind of concentration, but instead a'flitting' behaviour to absorb instantly all objects and movement applicable to the driver's entire environment, and translate them into actions that continually preserve a safe situation. And I believe that subliminal suggestion plays a part in this process.
In reality, there is no way that sequences and time periods can be described verbally. Even my own attempts here are crude in comparison.
Which, in the end, probably means that, whilst we talk about care, alertness, concentration and whatever, in all honesty we use them, we know they exist, but do not really understand how we actually make them function.
OK Snowball, the description of the theory was/is an analogy of what is thought to happen.
I think an actual photo album would cause headaches due to the sharp corners and it is pretty wet and fatty in there so I am not sure how long inks and paper would last.
Research work has been done, using brain scans and memory appears to activate the visual parts of the brain along with language parts. When simulated driving tasks are carried out by the subjects, the memory area is found to be very active. This does not make the theory wrong or right, it suggests it is probably not completely wrong.
We do know that concentration etc. are all improved by practice, we do know the brain is very good at blocking concentration when it is bored.
I marvel at the complexity of connections between a collection of atoms such that the same collection of atoms can wonder how it works.