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Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc,rec.bicycles.soc,ba.bicycles,ba.general
From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Cyclist Killed by Fist or Tire Iron?
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 00:00:57 GMT

Brad Anders writes:

> BTW, I recently read in either Road and Track or Car and Driver that
> to get a driver's license in Germany, you have to take a long series
> of classroom and on-road driving instruction, and pay about
> $3000-4000 in class and license fees. The final tests include
> driving in clear and rainy weather in city and freeway traffic. Too
> bad the US doesn't place such emphasis on driving skill, it would
> help clear the road of the idiots one encounters when either driving
> or riding your bike.

This is true and it is supported by the Driving school lobby and the
various people who perceive this as an activation barrier to new
drivers.  In fact it does little except to make getting a license
expensive.  An expense that most everyone can somehow meet.

On top of this, German drivers are somehow moved to be know-it-all
mechanics and lawyers through this rigorous indoctrination.  Of the
drivers in central Europe they have a relatively poor reputation for
road courtesy and accommodation of others.  It was especially bad in
the 1960's when many people changed from being pedestrians and
bicyclists to being car drivers.  The seemed to say, "Now it's my
turn" to run those lesser people off the road.  Not that they got away
with it but they had to learn the hard way that running down
pedestrians and bicyclists wasn't a good thing.

Jobst Brandt      <> 

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.misc,rec.bicycles.soc,ba.bicycles,ba.general
From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Cyclist Killed by Fist or Tire Iron?
Date: Thu, 7 Sep 1995 21:20:17 GMT

Brad Anders writes:

> Hmm, combining this with Jobst's comments, I can only draw the
> conclusion that the best form of driver training would be to just
> give a new driver the keys and say, "Have at it" :-). Looks like the
> more training you get, the more arrogant and ruthless you become on
> the road....

That's only true if you think training is a binary value.  There is an
optimum and there is also a slant to the instruction on whether it
focuses on the law and each drivers rights or his limitations as well
as whether road courtesy is part of the curriculum.

> It does bring up an interesting question: which country has the lowest 
> accident rate and is it attributable to their driver training or other 
> factors? Please don't tell me it's the US....

This is more complex that it may first appear.  You may have heard of
"Chinese driver syndrome", something better known in the proximity of
academic institutions.  This is seen in drivers who come to the USA as
adults, fully educated and who drive as hesitatingly as one might
imagine one would deriving everything from first principles.  Of
course it is not ethnically linked but sociologically.  These
scholars, who earn good salaries and must drive when they come here
and can afford an automobile, are doing something they never could
before.  Most had rarely, if ever, been a passenger in a car before.

Their children drive as well as any American but because we learn to
drive from observations from infancy, it is usually not apparent that
we have already learned to drive by the time we are legally old
enough.  In fact the entire protocol of every kind of traffic
situation has already become second nature.  The only missing part is
the feel of being behind the wheel.  I think you will find that
driver training occurs subliminally while riding with mom and pop
and that their politics of the road are either inherited, learned
from, or rejected, but the lessons have been learned.

As I said, Germans in the early 1960's had learned from being
intimidated by wealthy drivers (who always had cars even during WW2)
as they rode bicycles or crossed the street to public transportation.
Having little knowledge of the inside of a car, they went to driver
training where they learned "everything" including firing orders of 4-
and 6-cylinder cars.  Then they were let loose to turn the tables and
it was a nightmare.  Today's Germans are the second generation whose
pragmatism and the loss of novelty has mellowed their approach.  In
spite of this, their driving will probably never achieve the
laissez-faire of the French or Italians.  Few Europeans drive as the
North Americans, all having substantially different origins of vehicle
operation and social customs.

Jobst Brandt      <> 

Newsgroups: rec.bicycles.soc,ba.bicycles,ba.general,rec.bicycles.misc
From: (Jobst Brandt)
Subject: Re: Cyclist Killed by Fist or Tire Iron?
Date: Sat, 9 Sep 1995 00:25:12 GMT

Hajo writes:

>> Hmm, all that skill and yet the highest percentage of fatal
>> accidents in Europe.

> I'm not sure whether it is the highest percentage in Europe, but if
> you want to know about reasons, you might want to look at

> 1) Speed limits.
> 2) Alcohol consumption.

I just read the statistics on alcohol involved in recorded German
highway accidents in a German motorsport magazine.  The majority of
these involved alcohol levels more than four times the legal limit
with only about 3% of them near the permissible threshold of 0.8%
or about one 33dl (9.4oz) beer.

As for speed, the CEO of BMW wiped out a DM3,000,000 McLaren while
chauffeurring two guests at high speed.  He was the most seriously
injured.  The inquiry could not prove he was going over 120km/h
(75mph) but there were only shreds left of the car.

Jobst Brandt      <> 

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