This is a project in saving lives
and actually affecting collision statistics.

It is an insight into the PSYCHOLOGY of driving on an increasingly crowded planet.
Have a look: US & World Population Clock


the discipline of collision avoidance

This is thought material
for high school or independent driver's ed. schools,
those under court order to take a class,
new and veteran drivers alike.

Though several issues are mentioned on this webpage,
the importance of spatial awareness permeates all.
You CANNOT be as safe as possible unless you KNOW how to create and MAINTAIN distance.
This webauthor has been collision free since 1987, when I first embraced the concepts on this web page.

If you think this is frivolous and a waste of time, the days until your next collision are numbered.
Hopefully your collision will be minor.





Spatial Awareness
(Proxemics)
as a Defensive Driving Standard:
A Different Interpretation of Aggressive Driving

This is an introduction to the DISCIPLINE of creating and maintaining DISTANCE
from other vehicles AND objects.

I first took notice of the concept of PROXEMICS, and how it relates to motor vehicles, in the college textbook "The Hidden Dimension" by Edward T. Hall (1966).

Are you truly serious about decreasing your chances of collision?

The ONE safety principle described here will introduce you to a different interpretation of "aggressive driving".

You'll notice I am not concerned with conventional laws or speed limits. It is expected that you will respect these conventions. This, of course, includes NOT USING INTOXICANTS before and while driving!!!!!!

I am ONLY concerned with ONE THING...how far from other vehicles/objects I am.

Driving safely
has been reduced to a simple science...

...and Science really does RULE.

Please KNOW the mass of humanity whizzing around you in cars is preoccupied and lethargic.
They are NOT thinking about driving safely.

Clips from the 40 minute version of "Proxemics and Safe Driving":
<> Safe Driving in the Phanerozoic Eon 1
<> Safe Driving in the Phanerozoic Eon 2

Go to TOP of next column ^^^
EXERCISE ONE:
When driving about, look for evidence of front or rear end impact on other cars, NO MATTER HOW MINOR.

This should draw your attention to a pervasive lack of attention to TRUE COLLISION AVOIDANCE in this "driving society".

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EXERCISE TWO:
Take aspiring teen drivers for a visit to the largest automobile junkyard in the vicinity.

Ask an employee which wrecks are associated with deaths. Each of these tangled masses of metal has a story to tell.

Your "analysis" of what may have happened in each case is part of the drill. These impacted vehicles in junkyards present a horrific visage.

Having worked in Norfolk (Virginia, USA) General Hospital's emergency dep't for two years, I've seen the horror.

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EXERCISE THREE:
Test yourself when you get in line at the NEXT stoplight.

THIS is where you first develop your spatial awareness instincts.

How close are you to the car in front?
Even in the urban environ, a minimum of one car length.....even at rush hour. I've had cars from the next lane dodge into this exaggerated space.

If I'm first in line, I STAY AWAY from the intersection.....1 to 1.5 or so car lengths BACK from the white line of the pedestrian crosswalk. A high speed collision can take out the first few cars in line at a light.

What may seem perfectly safe to you, IS, in my altered state of "hyper-proxemics perception", DANGEROUS.

This may seem ridiculous to you, but this stoplight exercise is instrumental in training yourself to develop an actual AVERSION to being near OTHER CARS.

Cars are huge metallic objects piloted by heavily distracted/PREOCCUPIED goOns that WILL maim or kill you.

The following statement is, of course, simply my opinion:
What is printed in each state's driver education manual about "safe" following distance is, in fact, DANGEROUS.

Feel your own instinct for TERRITORIALITY...it is a primitive animal trait. It will likely keep you alive and uninjured for your entire driving life!

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EXERCISE FOUR:
The distance from the vehicle/object in front of you is the focus.
Quite simply, the farther, the better.
...and...the greater the speed, the farther!
I'll stay a quarter mile or more behind other vehicles, if at all possible.

I truly LOVE motorsports....go-Karts to F1 / Indy, Drag racing AND the electric counterparts.
The sensation of speed in a car is one of the world's great thrills.
The FARTHER ahead you can safely see, the faster you can go.

IF you drive far enough over the speed limit, you'll lose your license, or worse.
SO JUST SIMPLY DON'T DO IT.


Click these links for illustrations of human response to acceleration (Tesla).
Human response to acceleration video Vol.2

SooOo...Be forewarned HERE & NOW of the intoxicating power of acceleration and speed!

Now... test yourself for sensitivity to proxemics as you drive. It's actually quite easy. JUST STAY THE HECK AWAY FROM EVERYTHING.

The concept MUST become part of your personality to be effective.

In the interest of true safety, I must advise as to WHAT degree you incorporate the following paragraphs into your driving:
(even though it is quite effective) :::

Interestingly, and perhaps dangerously...part of the drill involves keeping an eye on the driver behind you, ESPECIALLY if they are talking on a cell phone and/or close to your rear bumper. The only element of this entire "proxemics" concept that is NOT in your control is, of course, the vehicle behind you.

I personally make an attempt to influence the driver behind me...this is just my own little quirk... I can't help it....it just happens. I begin to look at them in my exterior rear view mirror, and make sure they know I am concerned. A slow, negative gesture with my head usually does the trick. Most drivers you encounter will not see it, or they'll ignore it. Mouthing words is effective.....BUT....... You may snag the wrong personality....this can be a delicate matter....so be careful! It is a balance between rear view mirror checks and looking forward.....this is dangerous. WHEN you have to suddenly brake for a child or dog....collision from behind is likely.

Drivers unaware of proxemics principles (everyone on Earth) will think something is wrong with you AND your driving, simply because you ARE PAYING ATTENTION to him/her. Most will probably not ackowledge, or understand the exaggerated space in front of your vehicle. I almost named this webpage "The Idiot Behind You".

Go to TOP of next column ^^^
EXERCISE FIVE:
Herd avoidance: WATCH THEM FORM, and learn to stay OUT of them!

Herds are a bit easier to avoid on Interstates, BUT, in the URBAN environment, it is much more compressed and challenging. HERDS are comprised of dangerous goOns....do your best to stay away from them.

Scroll down to near bottom right of page for a good photo of Interstate herding.

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EXERCISE SIX:
Go for a "training drive" on a well traveled TWO lane country road. Make sure you're doing the speed limit, at minimum. Watch the pattern of behavior behind you.

Drivers will attach themselves to you, following at varying distances.

Every so often.....someone will see how much distance you put between your car and the one in front of you, and they will back off...but this is RARE.

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EXERCISE SEVEN:
Observe other drivers' REACTIONS to "mistakes". I'm not encouraging you to make mistakes to test others, but WHEN there is a mistake, you'll see a common pattern of behavior.

Example: An ill-timed entry into oncoming traffic from a side road. A driver sees you, and WAITS until the last nanosecond to hit his brakes AND sound the horn. They could have eased onto the brakes early to give you plenty of room, avoided using the horn, and smiled and waved.

Humans are compelled to make as much of an example of you as possible...it's their nature.

When it comes to truly SAFE driving...the average inhabitant of Earth is, in fact...INEPT. YOU are SURROUNDED by these life forms on the roadways. They are pre-occupied, lethargic AND emotionally hyper-reactive, and very dangerous.

DRIVING MISTAKES ARE CONSTANTLY TAKING PLACE.....the mistake is NOT what is important......your REACTION to the mistake is what really counts.

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That's it folks....a truly PRIMITIVE concept. The safety rationale is rooted in this FORCE of NATURE evident throughout the animal kingdom:

Territoriality

It has NEVER been isolated as a discipline for defensive driving........until NOW.

Lack of this "Spatial Awareness" is the simple, underlying reason why humans have collisions in their motor vehicles.
Re-defining what a REALLY SAFE DISTANCE is.

You'll find that using proxemics based rationale and tactics will NOT affect your estimated time of arrival.

Humans apparently think they will arrive at their destination sooner by being closer to the rear of the car in front of them.

"Never underestimate the power
of human stupidity."

- Robert Heinlein

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When compounded by the element of distraction...things become seriously deadly.

You are 4 times more likely to have a collision while talking on your mobile phone.

States and Laws addressing cell phone use while driving:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: States with CELL PHONE LAWS

I know that police in Hawaii LOOK for cell users....they lie in wait for them....they are aggressive in this pursuit....as it should be.



The act of following too closely is pervasive in driving society.

Knowing it is dangerous,
why do humans do this?

It is rooted in HOSTILITY and AGGRESSION.
Communication between humans is limited to these emotions when driving.

Example:
Do you know how to respond to the behavior pattern created by a slower moving vehicle in the left hand lane?

There is a left hand lane "culture" in America. Some folks drive there because it's their right as an American to do so. Others must be trying to arrive at the rear of the next vehicle as quickly as possible.

Read about the Autobahn.

Here in America, going too slow in the left lane is common...these drivers create havoc. Vehicles in the left lane should be in the act of passing another vehicle. They should then RETURN to the right lane...but most don't.

One who uses proxemics based rationale in their driving must demonstrate PATIENCE. Being patient is a huge part of truly safe driving. NO patience? You'll wind up as a patient.

One should NOT routinely drive in the left hand lane. Whether within legal limits or not, it is the speed of the majority that rules...and it is usually faster than the posted speed limit.

Add proxemics based safety rationale to the mix, and it's a real challenge.

Does the list of infractions / offenses on your city traffic summons include:

- following too closely?
- slow left hand lane driving?
- talking on cell phone while driving?

What if each police force devoted just 30 minutes a shift to only these three infractions?

Observe other drivers' reaction time.... You'll see what a dangerous / preoccupied / lethargic environment is surrounding you.

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Driving on CO 287N on 12/8/2005, @ Dusk:
I was in line at a stoplight, and heard the collision behind me...saw the debris flying in my rear view.
Someone was not paying attention
and plowed into the rear of a car at high speed just a couple cars behind.

It was a random chaotic event, and it occurs countless times on our highways.

FACT: Your chances of having a collision when on your cell phone are quadrupled. Loud music, or other living things (human or animal) in the vehicle are MAJOR distractions from the discipline of being as safe as possible.

ALL drivers make countless mistakes.
The mistake is NOT what is important.
Your reaction time and response to a mistake is what really matters.

Do you wait until the last nanosecond
to hit the brakes and sound your horn?

If so...you are as much at fault as the driver making the mistake.

A brief note about "pedestrians":
Antagonistic / desperate life forms will actually slow their gait when crossing a street, and they WILL walk into the path of moving vehicles.
Here's a good example of EXERCISE 6:
This is one of the many 180+ degree direction changes you'll find in America's mountains.
Check the solid double yellow line, and the driver's spacing...he (and his family) are asking for it.
Perfect example of the situation described in Lesson 7


The 40 minute version of "Proxemics and Safe Driving" was broadcast in 2002 on these local channels:

Channel 54 - CATV in Boulder. September Broadcast times every Monday at 5pm, and every Tuesday at 7am and 3pm.

Channel 57 - Denver Community TV.
Broadcast times for September
were Tuesday the 3rd and 17th at 7pm,
and Sunday the 8th at 7pm.

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The video was accepted in the entry quota (1000 entries) of the following Film Festivals:

Telluride Indie Fest
Telluride Film Festival

It did not win anything at either festival.

NHTSA in Washington, D.C. also received a copy. There was no response.



This is a photo of HERDING patterns forming on Oahu's H1.
Just a moment here for a bit of someone else's wisdom:

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly."


Albert Einstein - March 19th, 1940

Do you want to be as safe as is humanly possible?

Proxemics based rationale/tactics should dominate your driving, whether you travel in cars, 18 wheel bigrigs, motorcycles, or anti-matter powered transport pods.

e.Mail m51.com for info.


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