Uncommonsensical Ways to Reduce Your Risk of North Carolina Motor Cycle Accidents

June 2, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina car, truck, motorcycle accident specialists often presume that motorists know how to comport themselves safely on the roads but simply “choose not to” for a variety of reasons.

For instance:

• A driver may consume drugs or alcohol before getting behind the wheel;
• Or a motorcycle rider may choose not to wear a helmet and thus increase her risk of serious head injury in a fall.
• Or a truck driver may pop speed pills or drink massive amounts of Mountain Dew to clock in extra hours on a long run.

And so the standard recommendation for increasing safety involves changing driver behavior. And there is definitely is something to this. Obviously, if drivers engaged more courteously with one another, employed best practices for safety (such as wearing helmets and seat belts) and paid more attention to keeping their vehicles shipshape, we definitely would see fewer accidents – and fewer injuries, fatalities, and resultant North Carolina motorcycle accident lawsuits.

On the other hand, it’s probably very simplistic to take this “blame the driver” mentality as far as we collectively have.

The social pressures that human beings feel are profound and difficult to fight against. Who hasn’t gotten mad and felt a little bit of “road rage” in the middle of a gridlock? Who hasn’t engaged, at least a few times, in a careless, frivolous, or just downright stupid activity behind the wheel or as a pedestrian?

As much as we like to think of ourselves as rugged individuals, we are highly attuned and responsive to social cues. When people drive fast, we feel compelled to “keep up with them.” When everyone else in the car doesn’t wear a seatbelt, we feel foolish for wearing ours. You can find countless examples of this kind of social influence in our driving behavior.

So why, then, do we focus essentially exclusively on changing the behavior of individuals? Why don’t we focus more on changing out collective behavior?

The typical counterargument is… we do. We post signs everywhere. We provide driver education. We publicize the results of accidents and engage in endless debates about punishments, regulations, and road engineering.

But perhaps what’s missing is a more systematic probing of the social influences on drivers. Better campaigns might focus, for instance, on making driving fast “less cool” among teenagers.

Sounds impossible? Perhaps. But what if every North Carolina high schooler was required, twice a semester, to watch scary filmstrips about the dangers of driving too fast? Would the repetition of the message create the conditions to change the culture among teenage drivers? Perhaps. But until we start to think about our safety engineering in terms of changing the consciousness of social structures instead of changing the consciousness of individual drivers, we are going to be stuck metaphorically spinning the wheels on the safety question.

Questions about your recent car, truck, motorcycle accident? Connect with a North Carolina motorcycle accident law firm today.

More Web Resources:

Power of Social Pressures


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