The road, more than simply a system of regulations and designs, is a place where many millions of us, with only loose parameters for how to behave, are thrown together daily in a kind of massive petri dish in which all kinds of uncharted, little-understood dynamics are at work. There is no other place where so many people from different walks of life-different ages, races, classes, religions, genders, political preferences, lifestyle choices, levels of psychological stability-mingle so freely.
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The relative ease of most driving lures us into thinking we can get away with doing other things. Indeed, those other things, like listening to the radio, can help when driving itself is threatening to cause fatigue. But we buy into the myth of multitasking with little actual knowledge of how much we can really add in or, as with the television news, how much we are missing. As the inner life of the driver begins to come into focus, it is becoming clear not only that distraction is the single biggest problem on the road but that we have little concept of just how distracted we are.
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Whether advanced driver training helps drivers in the long term is one of those controversial and unresolved mysteries of the road, but my eye-opening experience at Bondurant raises the curious idea that we buy cars""for most people one of the most costly things they will ever own""with an underdeveloped sense of how to use them. This is true for many things, arguably, but not knowing what the F9 key does in Microsoft Word is less life-threatening than not knowing how to properly operate antilock brakes.
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