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 Post subject: Driver Luck
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 20:25 
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Over on another forum in a long, long, long thread, someone suggested that many so-called experienced drivers get through an accident free driving career not by skill and judgement but by luck. This was poo-pooed on the basis that nobody, let alone millions of drivers can be that lucky. Having given this some thought I beg to disagree.
The concept of luck is a somewhat esoteric one, and there are of course varying degrees of luck.
I suggest that any driver who is following the vehicle ahead of him/her too closely to be able to stop if it were to brake to a halt sharply, is relying on luck. Expand this out to the innumerable simultaneous incidents of 'following too closely' on motorways alone and we have huge amounts of luck being relied upon across the road network.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 20:31 
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Individuals can be lucky or unlucky. Their lucky streak could even last for an entire driving career.

But when we look at national statistics the luck (good and bad) has been played out and none remains.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 20:39 
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Quantum immortality? :P


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 20:45 
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there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old bold pilots :P

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 20:55 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
But when we look at national statistics the luck (good and bad) has been played out and none remains.


Explain please.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 21:50 
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reminds me of something in roadcraft (?) about poor driving not having the same feedback as other dangerous things... i.e. you stick your hand on the hob .. it burns.. you learn.

driving a car, you tailgate & drive like a moron... occasionally you'll come a cropper but not always.... and you can go on doing it a long time before you get bitten.

hence you have no reason/motivation to modify your behaviour....

sound familiar?

and as to 'good' drivers... errr dunno just totally lost my train of thought.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 22:37 
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Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
But when we look at national statistics the luck (good and bad) has been played out and none remains.


Explain please.


The bigger the system the less the uncertainty.

The house always wins.

If I toss a fair coin a million times, 50.00% of the results will be heads.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 22:38 
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[apocryphal_story_mode]
Expert golfer holes in one from huge distance.
Bystander remarks how lucky he was.
Golfer replies "Yes, but it's strange how the more I practice the luckier I get..."
[/apocryphal_story_mode]

Isn't "luck" the same as "probability"?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 22:47 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
But when we look at national statistics the luck (good and bad) has been played out and none remains.


Explain please.


The bigger the system the less the uncertainty.

The house always wins.

If I toss a fair coin a million times, 50.00% of the results will be heads.


But as I see it we are not talking about 'bet placing' type single incidents. If we were, a driver following a vehicle ahead too closely is tossing one coin each time he/she does it. However, because these are ongoing incidents rather than one off win/lose situations they are, in effect, tossing coin after coin after coin in rapid succession for as long as they are engaged in each tailgating activity. Each time no severe braking occurs the coin comes down in his favour, 100% heads so to speak.

JT wrote:
Isn't "luck" the same as "probability"?

Perhaps. If you are doing something which has a high probability of going wrong on you, then your luck is more likely to run out in a short space of time. Conversely, doing something which doesn't often result in an incident, means that your luck will last a lot longer; it may even last your entire driving career. But the element of good fortune is still there.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 23:07 
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Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
But when we look at national statistics the luck (good and bad) has been played out and none remains.


Explain please.


The bigger the system the less the uncertainty.

The house always wins.

If I toss a fair coin a million times, 50.00% of the results will be heads.


But as I see it we are not talking about 'bet placing' type single incidents. If we were, a driver following a vehicle ahead too closely is tossing one coin each time he/she does it. However, because these are ongoing incidents rather than one off win/lose situations they are, in effect, tossing coin after coin after coin in rapid succession for as long as they are engaged in each tailgating activity. Each time no severe braking occurs the coin comes down in his favour, 100% heads so to speak.


I think you're getting slightly confused about the behaviour of the individual and the behaviour of the system.

The system is entirely predictable (the house) individuals within it have 'luck' (the punters).

Your tailgaters are 'chancing their luck' while better drivers are avoiding that particular risk completely. But if you have a big enough population of tailgaters, a predictable number of them will crash each day.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 23:28 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
I think you're getting slightly confused about the behaviour of the individual and the behaviour of the system.


What on earth :?: :? :?
How the heck can I be the one getting confused, I started the thread so I know what I'm referring to.
I AM talking about the behaviour of the individual, suggesting that there is an element of luck in their crash avoidance.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 23:57 
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You only have to watch cars on the hanger lane gyratory. So much luck in one small place.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 00:40 
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Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
I think you're getting slightly confused about the behaviour of the individual and the behaviour of the system.


What on earth :?: :? :?

How the heck can I be the one getting confused, I started the thread so I know what I'm referring to.


You said 'Explain please' so I explained the bit that I guessed you didn't understand.

Rigpig wrote:
I AM talking about the behaviour of the individual, suggesting that there is an element of luck in their crash avoidance.


For every lucky individual there's an unlucky one and so the clever dumb balance is restored.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 00:50 
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Luck refers to single events in my experience. Someone who is consistently "lucky" almost certainly isn't (lucky).

"Fortune favours the prepared mind"

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 01:10 
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prof beard wrote:
Luck refers to single events in my experience. Someone who is consistently "lucky" almost certainly isn't (lucky).

"Fortune favours the prepared mind"


Absolutely. And a skilled gambler can make a living.

But across a population of gamblers they always make a net loss in the favour of the house.

Advanced driving is a way of improving the odds applied to the individual.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 10:33 
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The explanation is actually very much simpler and very much more down to earth.

Its not *luck* as such. It is simply that many of these "Dangerous behaviours" are, in fact, a lot less dangerous than the safety campaigners make them out to be.

Even members of this board (who are mostly sceptical to the “speed kills” message) are still vulnerable to this propaganda.

We are continually bombarded by stats that claim that tailgating makes you “X” times more likely to have an accident, Talking and driving makes you “Y” times more likely to have an accident and even “Drinking and driving makes you “Z” times more likely to have an accident

(Having less than six hours sleep, not eating your greens, having an R in your name, and so on! You can always bring up weird correlations when you are looking at the statistics of extremely rare events :) )

The point is however that the basic risk of having an accident on any given journey is so low that even if you factor in these “Risky” behaviours, the chances of any individual having an accident as a consequence are still vanishingly small.

Foe example. “Being twice the legal limit for alcohol makes me “N” times more likely to have a fatal accident”

Yea, but “N” times what?

The basic risk of having a fatal is actually such a small number that I could (on probability) drive home bladdererd every night for about 2000 years before I actually killed someone by doing so!

(Oh and BTW, even when I did so, the "victim" in this case would most likly be me! Id have to drive for 5-6000 years before I killed an innocent bystander)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:21 
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Luck does not exist, it is simply the term applied when an outcome occurs against the perceived most probable outcome.

If someone has consistant good or bad luck then they are simply getting the probabilities wrong.

Perception and weighting of events has been discussed on here before. You remember when the police stopped you but not every time you see a patrol car that does not.

Perhaps if you replace the word 'luck' with the word 'magic'...

Of course just because I do not believe in luck it does not stop me from using the term :roll:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:31 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
Rigpig wrote:
SafeSpeed wrote:
I think you're getting slightly confused about the behaviour of the individual and the behaviour of the system.


What on earth :?: :? :?

How the heck can I be the one getting confused, I started the thread so I know what I'm referring to.


You said 'Explain please' so I explained the bit that I guessed you didn't understand.

Ahh, so it was you who was confused over what I meant. I see, sorry.


Luck, fortune, playing with the balance of probabilities, call it what we will, there are still behaviours which drivers engage in where, if it all goes wrong, there is little or nothing they can do to prevent a crash, e.g. following the vehicle ahead too closely. Luck can in fact be described as 'that which is beyond a person's control' (Wikipedia).
Thus, if they erode their safety margins to the extent that they will be unable to avoid a crash if something happens, then they are relying on that something NOT happening. Even though such events may be rare, relying on it not happening is relying on 'luck', or whatever term you wish to use to describe the concept of chance and probabilities.
The odds may be heavily in their favour but, when multiplied across the road network, there are many more lucky drivers than unlucky ones.
So the idea that the clever/dumb balance is restored is ludicrous.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 12:54 
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I would suggest that the 'lucky' are actually better risk assessors and mitigators, This applies to just about all areas, construction operations not killing operatives, to the professional gambler making a living, and to the 'advanced' driver not causing and being able to avoid other peoples accidents.

Few accidents are caused by mechanical failure, many are caused by operator failure.

I'm sure advanced drivers meet their fair share of cars over taking into their path, wagons breaching central reservations into oncoming traffic, They may have better coping/avoidance stratagies than joe average, but is this really 'luck'

fatboytim


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2007 13:33 
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Rigpig wrote:
Thus, if they erode their safety margins to the extent that they will be unable to avoid a crash if something happens, then they are relying on that something NOT happening. Even though such events may be rare, relying on it not happening is relying on 'luck', or whatever term you wish to use to describe the concept of chance and probabilities.


I rely on a front tyre not blowing when I'm doing 70 on a motorway in a fwd car, hasn't happened yet to me but it does happen so I must be lucky.
Quote:
The odds may be heavily in their favour but, when multiplied across the road network, there are many more lucky drivers than unlucky ones.
So the idea that the clever/dumb balance is restored is ludicrous.


If the risk/odds is/are 1 in a million,
and,
the outcome was 3 in a million, you could say 2 were unlucky.

the outcome was 1 in 3 million, you could say 2 were lucky.

Luck can only really be described a that which is far outside the normal odds/risk.

fatboytim


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