Friday, December 16, 2016

Autoism on the Front Page Yesterday

The paper yesterday morning had an interesting juxtaposition on traffic: Distracted driving and snowstorm congestion.

Though they're not intentionally linked, and might not look like they are linked, of course they are complementary: Together they shine a light on our pervasive hydraulic autoism.

BikePortland has covered the big picture already on the storm. The problem is not snow and ice, not lack of sanding and plowing, not lack of additional road widening or new bridges, not lack of skill among local drivers.

The main problem is our overreliance on cars and drive-alone trips.

When people have a rich suite of mobility options that are seen as realistic choices they actually use, that leaves a better allocation of road space for those who really do need to drive.

The solution to congestion is to make it easy not to drive.

After all, if this amount of snow is troublesome, what happens after the big earthquake or a real disaster? Mobility should not depend on solitary drivers in balky automobiles.

Our autoism also facilitates the increasing problem of distracted driving.

Here we have a clear statement of "lawless motoring" - something to remember next time you hear about those "scofflaw cyclists"!
If Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney has his way, people convicted of driving while texting, using social media or talking on the phone could face jail time and thousands of dollars in fines....

Currently, driving while texting or talking on a mobile device is a Class C traffic violation. Violators are subject to a maximum fine of $500.

Courtney said the pervasiveness of distracted drivers led him to believe a harsher punishment is needed.

"You drive anywhere... you can see it," he said....

For the third year in a row, fatal crashes are up statewide, [Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis] Hampton said. Distracted driving remains one of the top contributors to fatal crashes.

Even though it seems like every third driver on the road is talking on a cell phone, law enforcement officers have struggled with catching distracted drivers. With the addition of 40 unmarked patrol cars, troopers have seen a 24 percent increase in distracted driving stops and cite about 500 drivers each month.
August 2015
But of course Enforcement alone won't stem the tide of increasing gadgetry and distractions the manufacturers themselves provide and incent drivers to use.

We also need meaningful and integrated adjustments to supply and demand on in-car distraction, prior to Enforcement activities.

Our autoism is a complex cultural system, not merely a benign instance of neutral technology.

Unfortunately, as the paper's advertising revenues seem increasingly to depend on car-related businesses, it may be harder and harder for any critical thinking about our autoism to be published.

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