The most basic rule of road safety is to watch the road. What do traffic lights and instructional road signs do? Take our eyes off the road.
Our primary safety task is to watch the road and act according to context. The traffic control system interferes with that task. “Accidents” are routinely blamed on driver error. But the role of traffic control in contributing to accidents has never been studied (who will back a study?).
The system imposes unequal rights and responsibilities. It puts us at odds with each other and our surroundings. It demands disproportionate attention, elevates obedience above judgement, denies choice, outlaws discretion, prevents infinite filtering opportunities and expressions of fellow feeling …
What do you do if you’re approaching a green light at a legal 30 – or 20 for that matter – when a child appears in your path, but an unsighted ten-ton truck is on your tail? It’s precisely that sort of intolerable conflict which is contrived by the rules of the road. (“For threatening my baby, unborn and unnamed, you ain’t worth the blood that runs in your veins.”)
Accidents statistics are spurious because they are compiled in the context of priority. How much safer would roads be under civilised equality?
Most “accidents” are not accidents; they are events contrived by the rules and design of the road.
Traffic lights stimulate inappropriate, conflicting speeds, as some drivers rush to beat the green while others slow down anticipating a return to red. With self-control, approach speeds are low. My interest in avoiding collision with you mirrors your interest in avoiding collision with me.
So which is safer – automated control based on priority, or self-control based on equality?