The final word on riding a motorcycle is learn, not like the the boy in the picture with his fingers in his ears. Riding connects you directly to life, and life is always talking to us – we just have to listen. Yet when it comes to road accidents, the current system is designed to do just the opposite – to hide the mistakes that people make on the road. If you talk to a lawyer, the first thing they tell you in an accident is never admit any fault. If you talk to a psychologist, they tell you that the key to learning is to recognize faults. Can you see the contradiction here? If you never admit any fault, how can you learn?
Airplanes are a thousand times safer than cars because when airplanes crash, the cause is formally investigated and safety recommendations published so the aviation community learns from its mistakes. In contrast when cars crash, there is at best a legal process that aims to protect privacy and establish legal blame and punish the guilty party. When I read of a car accident in the paper, causes aren’t mentioned, names are often suppressed, and it reads like people were just driving along when “an accident happened”, so the driving community learns nothing from the event. Planes are safer than cars because the aviation community learns from their mistakes but the driving community doesn’t. This is why the number of people killed in cars every year far exceeds those killed in airplanes – for 2016 in the US alone it was 37,461 people. Something is wrong here!
Its time for a new approach, based on learning safety not allocating blame and punishment. If an adult runs over their toddler in their driveway, prosecuting them for murder doesn’t help anyone and there is no community learning. Think how many people are alive today because plane crashes are not hushed up to protect airline privacy. What is the car equivalent of the NTSB, an impartial body that investigates air crashes and publishes safety advice? There is none, so I suggest a web-based grass-roots approach – a web platform where people can voluntarily share accidents and suggest to others how to avoid them. People will tell their story if they are genuinely anonymous and legally immune. Perhaps some of the millions obtained from speeding tickets can be used to fund local community safety projects for road vehicles. Then we can all learn from the experiences of others. The Stories part of this site was added to let you publish your own experiences to help other riders – so please make use of it!