Human Element v. Machine

By Andy Levesque

            Human v. Machine.  Who wins?  Well, that depends.  There are limitless risk factors and possibilities when driving a vehicle, we simply cannot know them all.   What we can do as human beings, is understand we are human.  We make mistakes, we correct them.  We educate ourselves, we become smarter. We minimize our importance, we become more at risk.  When coaching new drivers and experienced drivers, I always begin with a few sayings.  One of which is, “If you want to control the machine, you have to learn to control yourself.”  This saying reverts back to the last blog on Risk and Attitude.    

            Human Element – Each individual driver is unique.  Each driver has different aspects of life, education, personality, mental stability and focus, physical attributes and deficiencies, and so on.  We are human.  Truly understanding your physical skills, mental skills, and emotional skills to its truest sense is not easy to accomplish.  I am not trying to get philosophical, just trying to put it into perspective. More so, not everyone has the ability to drive a vehicle safely.  This is where self-identity and honesty is imperative.  Driving involves psycho-motor skills or divided attention skills and abilities.  That means it involves thought process and physical synchronization to accomplish a task. It is kind of like rubbing your belly in a circle with one hand and tapping the top of your head with the other. That can be natural ability or a developed skill. If you had to learn the skill, good for you!  I had to learn also.   

            The brain can only do one complex task at any given time. Even if that one task is driving.  One hundred percent of your attention must be given when driving.  One hundred percent!  Driving is not simplistic; it is complex.  Very complex.  Although it may seem easy to experienced drivers, it really is a complex task. Let us look at a simple and common issue with driving; distraction.

            Place yourself in the driver’s seat, alone in the car.  You should bring one hundred percent of your attention to drive the machine safely with all the complexities of such, to navigate the roadways, follow traffic laws and signs, search and identify overall, intermediate and close-up dangers, checking your mirrors every three to five seconds, accelerate, maintain and brake appropriately, and simply, keep it between the lines. This is only a small percentage of what you do to drive safely.

Now let us add some elements or distractions; your attitude, your mood, waking up late for work or school, trying to get there on time, the coffee you are drinking, the breakfast you are trying to eat, dealing with traffic (Oh we hate traffic!), finding a parking space, going through your work or school day, having to face your emotions and attitude, reversing the process until you arrive home.  Are we missing something?  Yes we are. The machine.

The Machine – With all the technology in our modern vehicles and makes our driving experience more pleasurable, easier and comfortable, it is still a machine.  Take away all the frills, toys, buttons and all the technology and we get to the machine.  The machine, a stationary object designed by humans in a parked area, is lifeless.  It cannot start when it wants, it cannot drive when it wants.  It is completely reliant on the human.  Humans turn the lock to get in.  We sit in the driver seat, insert then turn the key, then and only then, the machine comes to life. Now the machine is idle and not moving.  What makes the machine move?  We do. The human element.

The machine works within the laws of physics.  The machine, if not respected or fully understood by the driver, will remind the driver of the fundamental laws of physics (Sir Isaac Newton would be proud).  Human engineering completed and continuously improves the machine to our liking.  But deep down, it is still a machine.  Lifeless until interfered with by the human element.  So, it is the human that brings the machine to life and tries to operate the machine safely through the perils of humans until it is returned home.  It is not the machines fault (sometimes it is mechanically), but the human element that is the causation of failure.

Drive safe, drive smart! It’s all about your attitude!        

Published by Andy Levesque

Andy is a 23 year police veteran that specialized in traffic enforcement, crash investigations, traffic homicide investigations and reconstructions, police and emergency vehicle driver training, performance driving and more. Andy brings to you his knowledge, experiences, his studies and practice of driver behavior, vehicle dynamics and how the two connect. Andy specializes in vehicle control and has a gift to keep everything calm and in control. He also brings patience and understanding to those who have anxiety towards driving or need special attention. Andy is an internationally published author of Driving Dynamics ISBN-13: 978-1500879665 Andy loves to share his knowledge with new drivers and puts things into perspective. Using his talents and techniques have provided several new and experienced drivers valuable skill sets all while having fun!

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