November 13, 2019

Dumb Driver Dilemma

I witnessed something disturbing while driving the other day. I saw a person driving the same make, model, year–even the same color–vehicle as mine.

The disturbing part was that the other driver executed what I consider to be a particularly stupid driving maneuver. I won’t say what it was, in case that maneuver is a part of your normal driving repertoire, and it’s not important anyway. The important part is: how could a person who is so obviously intelligent when it comes to the selection of a motor vehicle be so patently stupid in its operation? What if one of my friends saw  this other driver and thought it was me? Or what if he caused an accident, and I was arrested? Or the real big question: what if all bad drivers buy the same make of car and that make of car is the one that I drive?

Clearly, this situation needs some consideration. I decided to do some research to determine if there is any correlation between the make of  the  vehicle and stupid driving habits. Whenever I saw a dumb stunt, I noted the make of car. I did not attempt to place a point value on the level of  dumb, because that would add complexity to the equation.

The biggest obstacle I encountered in compiling the data was telling the difference between makes of cars. Current models look very much alike.

I recall the old “count the cars” game on family outings when we were kids. A car would be just a speck on the horizon two miles away and my dad would say, “‘58 Nash Rambler” or “‘55, ‘56, ‘57, ‘58 or ‘59, Volkswagen.”

dumb driver 2Cars were distinct, had character, and the names were simple. (Well, except for Volkswagen.)  Nobody ever said “bless you” when you told them what make car you were driving, unless you were driving an “unsafe at any speed” Corvair, but then it was for a different reason.

Concentration and diligence solved the identification problem and I soon had compiled considerable data. A trend started to emerge, but I was troubled. Was it a true trend or were the statistics skewed simply because there were more of that particular make of car on the road?

I contacted a friend who works as a computer programmer at the Department of Motor Vehicles  and he became more excited than any DMV worker I have ever seen. He started spouting terms like “statistical package,” “correlation coefficient,” and “regression analyses,” but I finally got him calmed down. I convinced him this was not a moon mission, and that all I wanted was some figures indicating the percentages of makes of vehicles registered in this area. He grumbled something about not realizing the true potential of what we had, but gave me the figures anyway, and I compared them to my data.

During the analysis, I allowed for such factors as: personal judgment on what is dumb and what is not, identification problems, a single point of observation, and people driving a car they don’t own (parents, rentals, and company cars). The only conclusion I could draw was that it is evident no particular make of vehicle attracts dumb drivers. At least in this case, “dumb” appears to be uniformly distributed across the car-buying population.

I am very relieved that I am not in any “high incident” group, but I realize that my project was less than scientific. Therefore, I suggest we set up a national organization to study the issue and enlist the aid of the public. Each time you observe a dumb driving stunt, record the make of car, license plate number, date, time and GPS coordinates. Use the website stupiddriver.com to report the pertinent information and view historical data. Future models of the most popular GPS models will have an uplink option to file the report automatically. In the meantime, I understand the new iPhone will have an app for that.

On the website, you also have the opportunity to enter relevant information about your make of car and license plate number–in case the other driver has a different opinion of what is dumb.

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