Thinking Aloud

“Thinking aloud is a habit responsible for much of mankind’s misery.”

So says Benjamin Franklin, or at least his character played by Tom Wilkinson in the so far-excellent HBO miniseries: “John Adams,” which I have only recently begun. I have no idea whether the quote is historically accurate, but I will venture thinking aloud.

Does anyone know whether US automobile accident data has ever been compared to speed trap location/police roadblock data? I’ve searched in vain for both, though there are good speed trap maps out there. I doubt that there is enough reliable data as to the locations of speed traps (such as department logs) available to the general public or even of a map of accident locations. However, it would be interesting to overlay two such maps and see if there is any significant correlation.

I only bring it up because though I usually spot troopers and other officers patrolling the highway well in advance, every so often, I’ll be surprised by a hidden speed trap and, unfortunately, my first reaction is not to continue to drive in a safe and courteous fashion, but to try to escape the notice of the officer or at least reduce my chance of getting pulled over. I still try to maintain calm and drive safely, but often I’m looking in my rearview way too often and trying to get to the right lane of traffic if I was in the passing lane (passing of course) as quickly as possible. I’ve never had an accident as a result of unexpectedly happening upon a trap, but I’ve definitely been distracted from driving in order to see whether I was driving a bit over the limit and to try to blend in with other traffic. From observation and word-of-mouth, I know this is a common reaction to hidden speed traps and I have to believe that such reactions as rapid breaking or at least taking your foot off the gas and attempting to blend causes otherwise preventable accidents to occur.

Of course, correlation does not necessarily imply causation, but I suspect we’d see a lot fewer accidents if traffic were allowed to flow at a natural rate (even if that exceeds the posted limit) rather than having abrupt and random slow-downs every 30 miles or so, depending on where you are. Again, just thinking out loud:) If anyone knows of a study or reliable raw data, please let me know: pintpundit-at-gmail-dot-com. Thanks!

Btw, the miniseries is available here and the book by David McCullough on which it is based is available here.

3 Responses to “Thinking Aloud”  

  1. 1 Loretta Nall

    I almost had an accident recently due to a police road block. They were sitting in a blind curve. I wondered then, as you have ‘aloud’ here, how many wrecks they are responsible for.

  2. 2 tom

    Homewood sets one up at the end of my street every few months checking for license and insurance violations. Outrageous.

  3. 3 Dalitso

    I know that. I tried to avoid that route most of the time unless I had no choice but go through there.

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