Friday, August 9, 2013

Why don't people want to talk to each other anyway

This documentary about texting and driving, "From One Second to the Next," is by Werner Herzog. Please watch and share it. Not only is it poignant, but it's a great film. It is powerful because it effectively probes the devastating effects of a preventable moment of thoughtless inattention on the lives of normal people going about their daily lives.

I'm posting it not only because it's amazing and thought-provoking, but also because it is making me think about my own bicycle commute. I try to maintain a level of attention to drivers, particularly at intersections and crossings, as if they are all texting, or don't see me, or will run the stop signal for some other reason. But now I really wonder if that's nearly enough. I try to always look. I try to always be aware. But a car traveling at 50mph covers 73 feet per second. Assuming I'm trying to be aware five seconds ahead (which may not be enough anyway), that means I need to watch for cars 365 feet away in both directions. A football field. I find that, particularly when some vehicles are coming to a stop or already stopped at the red light, my attention is drawn to the closer, louder ones as I enter the intersection, rather than the fast ones still a football field away, and all the way across in the far, still open, lane. A couple of times, I've actually seen them coming. Once, I saw an accident about to happen as the car across the intersection, much closer than me to the lane with the driver who clearly was not going to stop, started in as soon as our light turned green. That time, I waved frantically across the intersection, and either they saw me or saw the car coming, and they stopped. Whoom, right through went the car, not even slowing down.

I'm going to make sure that everyone in our household who either drives now, or will drive some day, watches this. And that afterwards, we talk about it, face to face, person to person, which is one way that real change happens.

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