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Drivers’ attitudes put cyclists in danger

Why do cyclists face such grave dangers on the roads of Southern California? As many of them will probably attest, a big part of the issue is just the way that drivers feel about cyclists.

After all, people usually tend toward a group mentality. Drivers are one group. Cyclists are another. They may see each other in a negative light on the whole, which makes them take risks they would otherwise refrain from.

“We have finite road space and finite transportation dollars, so we create this system of competition,” said one professor who wrote a report on the subject. “It’s a totally uneven competition… But when you put people in those circumstances, they act like a member of their group and not an individual. There is a complete lack of empathy.”

This is why people who are normal and kind in any other situation can become so enraged on the road. A driver trapped behind a “slow” cyclist may tailgate and honk their horn, even though the cyclist has a right to share the road — just because they can’t connect with that group.

There’s also an issue of how all people can go out and get a license to drive. While there is training, it’s not nearly as comprehensive as you’d think it would be since cars can and do take tens of thousands of lives.

“Driving is one of the most complex tasks that we all engage in. Very few of us are airline pilots or surgeons, but almost all of us can get a drivers license,” said the professor. She then related that back to her hypothesis about interactions and attitudes on the road, noting: “Like all aspects of human behavior, we’re not always rational, and we’re not always civil.”

Have you been injured by a dangerous driver who made a critical mistake? If so, you may be able to seek financial compensation.