Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Psychology of Overtaking and VE08NXK

There is surprisingly little literature available online on the topic of The Psychology of Overtaking.

One paper you can find dates from 1997, Overtaking Road-accidents: Differences in Manoeuvre as a Function of Driver Age, by Clarke et al, of Nottingham University

Without going into the details, in particular questioning whether there's enough information on the general population of drivers and overtakers to reach conclusions about age, it does contain a good introductory summary of past work.

One quote in particular stands out
Wilson and Greensmith (1983) returned to the theme of the ‘‘inertial driver’’ in their multivariate analysis of drivers’ accident status in relation to observed driving patterns, gender and exposure. They report that accident-involved drivers drive more quickly ‘‘...and move around continually (especially overtaking) in traffic’’. The typical inertial driver differs from his high-exposure accident-free counterpart, in that he seems unwilling to change speeds in response to conditions by using gear changes, deceleration or braking.
This is interesting, as it does document a common behaviour you encounter on a bike: the driver willing to endanger themselves and others rather than tap on the brakes.

Here is a classic example on Belmont Hill, N. Somerset

Although it's a sharp bend, the gradient of the hill means that you can see oncoming traffic, especially when they have their lights on in the late afternoon. Look up to the top right of the picture and you can see a car coming down the hill. Bear in mind, it is still daylight, there may be an unlit vehicle or cyclist, and they would not be visible.

The presence of the car hasn't stopped the van VE08NXK from choosing to overtake precisely at the corner, going round the bend on completely the wrong side of the road. Either they hadn't looked or they didn't care. The driver coming down the hill was distinctly unhappy.

It would be really interesting to see what the reasoning of the driver was here. We cannot but suspect that it would be a "the cyclist forced me to make a dangerous overtake" claim, when really it was a "I was unwilling to adjust my speed in any way". Maybe we shall find out, having just reported them to A&S police as part of "Grass a Driver week".

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