Think about it. Humans as we know them today, homo sapiens, has been around for about 200,000 years, depending upon which timeline you believe. It’s widely accepted however that the first motor car was created by Karl Benz in 1885, a mere 130 years ago.
For eons, man’s capacity to harness the challenges of moving from A to B was influenced largely by what was available to him at the time. In reality that meant being able to steer a horse at a maximum of about 40 mph without falling off and really not a lot else.
Suddenly, about 100 years ago when cars were trundling along at well above walking pace for the first time, man was not only asked to control an unfamiliar mechanical beast but he was also expected to be able to make coherent judgements at speeds well in excess of equine levels.
There are a myriad of behavioural activities (running, jumping, swimming etc.) that have had the benefit of that vast span of time to become almost second nature but driving isn’t one of them. 100 years in evolutionary terms is tantamount to meaningless. As humans, we’re gifted fast responses to some situations, thanks to our inbuilt ‘fight or flight’ reflex, but such attributes as spatial awareness and closing distance analysis at 70 mph have to be acquired.
Hardly surprising then that controlling a vehicle in any way, let alone a safe one, isn’t something we’re born to do. It takes training and more training and more training. And of course, if it’s not taught correctly in the first place, lack of correct technique and gaps in knowledge are harder to compensate for in later life.
Next time a company car driver says “I don’t need training” it might be worth mentioning our collective fragilities, as a result of the evolutionary path down which we’ve all come!
Author: Steve Johnson, Principal, Autoproactive