Several conclusions actually.
Conclusion #1 – People are going to drive in a manner that makes them comfortable.
This comfort zone does not take into account speed limits, other traffic, or current road conditions. These people drive according to how it “feels” to them. They head down the road, and if it feels like a 60mph road to them, that’s what they will do, regardless of the 35mph speed limit.
Taken one step further, these drivers will become angry with anyone who prevents them from staying in their comfort zone. This may be the person in front of them who is doing the speed limit, or the person who is being extra cautious at the intersection and doesn’t pull away fast enough. This may be the root cause of some incidents of road rage, and may certainly account for any number of “one finger salutes” that are flashed on any given day.
It never dawns on them, even when they passed you several miles back, and you are now beside them at the traffic signal, that their excessive speed did not accomplish anything, or get them to their destination any faster.
They were NOT speeding because they were in a hurry to get somewhere. They were speeding because it felt “right” to them. Plain and simple. This is not to say that ALL drivers are this way, but I think a large number of drivers may fall into this category.
Conclusion #2 – Increasing the penalties for certain infractions of the law will not serve as a deterrent or have any effect on the behaviour it is designed to alter. People do not get into their cars in the morning and say to themselves, “Boy, I better drive more carefully now that the fine have gone up.” The penalty has absolutely NO effect on changing people’s driving habits.
Making the fine for hitting a motorcycle $50,000 would not make any difference, nor would it lower the number of crashes. Nobody thinks of the consequences when they get into their vehicles. All they know is that they are going somewhere and they are exercising their God given right to drive. The possibiliity that they may break the law never even enters into their heads.
Those government bodies that pass laws for increased penalties are merely trying to show their constituents that they are doing SOMETHING to try to make things better. Their heart may be in the right place, but it will be to no avail. Mandatory aggressive driving courses have a much better chance of altering a driver’s behaviour.
Conclusion #3 – Drivers are just as likely to NOT see a motorcyle as they are to NOT see a car. I don’t believe that the size of the vehicle, the sound of the vehicle, or having additional lighting will make any difference. A driver actually has to look in your direction in order for 2 of these factors to come into play. You could be driving the Space Shuttle down the road, and these same people will pull out in front of you. They just aren’t paying attention.
In the days before most vehicles had their headlight on full time, a car with it’s headlights on stuck our like a sore thumb, and the visibility factor for them was increased. Nowadays, darn near every car on the road is equipped with daytime driving lights. Any vehicle with it’s lights on is more likely to blend into the background along with all the other vehicles with their lights on. I have my headlights on high, and I turn on my dual 55w halogen driving lights and people still pull in front of me.
We as riders are ultimately responsible for our own safety. There is no substitute for good situational awareness. All the safety devices in the world are not going to keep us safe.
It is what it is, and you have to ride like everyone else on the road is a moron, because they frequently are.
That’s my story, it is based on my own observations and anecdotal evidence, and I am sticking to it.