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Why do so many drivers drive a bit too fast on the roads?

It comes as no surprise that speed is one of the biggest reasons when it comes to traffic accidents. A report shows that around a third of all fatal traffic accidents are related to speed and that the risk of being involved in a traffic accident increases by 12.8% when you drive too fast.

Driving too fast can be either a conscious or a subconscious action. A tiny fraction of drivers will perhaps admit that they consciously drive too fast on the roads. However, the vast majority of all drivers subconsciously drive too fast occasionally. The reason for this happening from time to time can be found in the article below.

 

Conscious and subconscious actions

Every day, we humans make up to 35,000 decisions. The flow of decisions and the energy we use on every single decision depends on the scale and importance of that decision. Nobel Prize winning researcher Daniel Kahneman splits a human’s stream of consciousness into two – System 1 and System 2. Kahneman’s research can help us understand why we drive to fast on the roads from time to time.

 

System 1: The system the brain prefers to use

The first system is characterised as being automatic decisions. We do not think about the fact that, in reality, we are making a decision. We just do it. We use this system 98% of the time when we make decisions.

Therefore, it is also this system we use when we are driving. Driving a car is an acquired skill which, over time, becomes automated in our brains. Therefore, most seasoned drivers will be able to drive a car without thinking about it. The system is used when we are driving straight ahead and following the course of the road. We do this when we apply the brakes as well, which is a learned reflex.

 

System 2: Requires most resources

The second system is characterised as being those decisions which require mental alertness. We use System 2 when we actively have to make a decision that is not made intuitively. This system requires a great deal of energy and therefore we only use it 2% of the time when we make a decision.

We also use System 2 when we drive a car. However, we only use it when we have to make an active decision. This is the system we use when we check speed signs and the speedometer in the car to see how fast we are driving. It could also be when we are looking for a parking space, or when we are assessing whether it is possible to cut across a busy road.

Our brain will always seek to look after itself. Therefore, the brain tries to get us to take as many System 1 decisions as possible rather than System 2 decisions as these, as stated earlier, require more thinking power and energy. This comes into play when the brain is full after a day at work and is thinking about practical goals, family and other things that fill your head.

For that reason, many of us motorists can end up driving too quickly without being aware of it. Moreover, we tend to drive according to an in-built cruise control that is adapted to the surroundings. For many, checking the speedometer is a System 2 activity and therefore an active decision.

 

Help systems that help you comply with traffic rules

Help systems that it may be advantageous to use are cruise control and sign recognition if your car is equipped with this. By using these, you can focus more on the traffic rather than on your speed.

Another help system is our traffic alarms that provide information on speed cameras and traffic incidents on the road ahead. Saphe traffic alarms help you when there is a speed camera or an incident on the road which you, as a motorist, should be aware of.

 

Read more about Saphe traffic alarms

 

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