In the long-term future, car accidents will be, more or less, a thing of the past once AI is as smart or smarter than humans and can drive our cars for us more safely. Until that day comes, though, we’ll have to put up with us stupid, mistake-prone humans crashing into each other on the roads.

My concern isn’t so much the actual car accidents, since in any given time period, car accidents only affect a very small percentage of people. Other than one or two people bumping my bumper, I’ve been in exactly two car accidents in almost 30 years, and I drive every day. That’s one car accident every 15 years, and I know a lot of people like this.

Instead, my concern is the traffic and logistical problems car accidents cause. These problems affect everyone, even people who don’t drive but use buses instead. One car accident is scary and dangerous for two or three people, but when it happens on the freeway at rush hour, it causes massive inconveniences and problems for hundreds of thousands of people who have to sit in traffic like a turtle waiting for the damn cars and people to be removed from the freeway.

Where I live, there are several huge rivers that must be spanned by bridges. If even one or two of these bridges are snagged by car accident traffic, and you’re trying to get somewhere in your car, you’re basically fucked. There are no alternate routes; you just have to sit there and have your time wasted along with thousands upon thousands of other commuters.

Luckily, I set my own schedule, so I simply refuse to drive on the roads between 7am-9am and 3:30pm-7pm, since this is rush hour, and it takes double the travel time to do anything during these hours.

However, sometimes I have no choice. Approximately 70-80% of the time I drive during these hours, and I mean this now, 70-80% of the time, there is at least one, usually two major car accidents that turn a 35 or 40 minute drive into a 1.5 hour drive.

It is simply amazing to me that with today’s technology, we don’t do something more creative to solve this problem. The fact that major highways and freeways are government property makes this even worse, since government is the least creative sector of the economy by far.

Instead of paralyzing your entire city 10-12 times per week for all eternity, here’s what I propose:

1. Identify the 5-10 biggest choke points in your city’s traffic, the worst places to have accidents. These will usually be bridges, but can also be major freeway interchanges.

2. Park a heavy-duty transport airlift helicopter right by each one of these choke points. “Right by” does not mean “ten minutes away.” No, I mean park that bastard right by that choke point, and have a piloting crew and medical crew ready on constant standby. (And yes, I would happily pay the taxes for this. This is a valid government infrastructure expenditure.)

3. Equip each helicopter with an industrial-grade magnet that can be lowered and raised, like the kind junkyards use. Also equip each helicopter with whatever fire and medical equipment is needed for accident rescue and removal.

4. Whenever there is a car accident at one of these choke points, instead of sending an ambulance or fire truck, which has to navigate the wall-to-wall traffic and take forever, launch the helicopter, drop the crew down right into the accident zone, suck up any injured on roped gurneys, and use the magnet to instantly pluck the wrecks from the road.

By doing this, you could have the entire street cleared and traffic flowing again in less than five or even three minutes, instead of the insane 15-20 minutes it takes now. Not to mention any injured will get medical care much faster.

5. Fine anyone who is clearly at fault for any accident that causes any major traffic problems in your city. By “clearly at fault,” I mean if all the insurance companies clearly identify one dumbass as the 100% cause of the accident, fine that son of a bitch $5,000 for fucking up everyone else’s day and damaging the infrastructure viability of your city. Use these fines to help fund the helicopters and their crews. (If the insurance companies disagree about who’s at fault, or say no one is 100% to blame, then don’t fine anyone.)

I’ve seen a lot of people drive. It is very clear to me that a significant percentage of the population just doesn’t give a shit if they get into a car accident. Okay. Let’s fine these assholes. Safe drivers like myself have nothing to fear. As I’ve shown with my one-accident-per-15-year track record, driving safely is not difficult.

Again, I’m only talking about major cities here and major traffic choke points within those cities. I’m not talking about all roads, or all bridges, or all cities.

I don’t expect any of this to ever happen (in the Western world anyway) since government doesn’t have that kind of creativity. I’m just stunned that most major cities in the world still force everyone to sit in their cars for over an hour just because they haven’t figured out a simple way (one of which I just described) to clear the roads fast for when accidents occur.

28 thoughts on “How To Solve the Car Accident Problem

  1. I don’t think accident removal would put any noticeable dent in traffic problems. I’d be curious to see what percentage of traffic is actually caused by accidents. It would seem that more is caused by congestion, stupid drivers (not accidents, but those asshats who change lanes without signalling, causing a chain reaction of braking), road obstacles (like construction).

    As you say, once we get fully autonomous vehicles, which can drive at 110mph with 6 inches between them, traffic will be a thing of the past, even in the densest areas.

    If you haven’t seen it, this short example of a traffic cause is interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wm-pZp_mi0

  2. First: this is not creative. It’s the first idea one can get.

    Second: one of the reasons for the missing implementation might be the cost. E.g. big helicopters can carry 10000 kg but normal helicopters not even 1/10th and in this case they should be able to lift at least 1500 kg (I’m supposing the use of cables and not of magnets, which would add a lot of weight).

    Third: the first alternative solution that cross my mind is this: build highways with a side sliding electromagnetic magnet (like the rabbit in dogs’ races) which carry also two or three paramedics.

    Fourth: don’t take #3 too seriously. It’s just the first thing that crossed my mind when I read magnet in the article.

  3. To answer to the commenter above: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180524141647.htm

    From this you should be able to understand where to search for the math behind traffic congestion.

    About autonomous vehicles driving at short distances: in the highways is feasible but in normal streets might be more difficult.

    For the traffic problem being solved: It’ll improve but maybe not totally solved.

  4. Instant thought that comes to my mind is:  why are these people driving to work? There should be a mass acceptance of virtual employees, maybe even a tax incentive for businesses that encourage work-from-home-employees.  Ive worked 70% from home for the last 11 years.  I had a huge wakeup call on my way to the gym at 5pm the other day:  Tens of millions of people waste two hours a day in traffic, and I had avoided it for a decade!

     

    Second idea is this:  Points based ride sharing.  Incentivize people to PREPROGRAM their weekly travel schedule into a group rideshare app which will carpool everybody who is going to basically the same place.  The incentive could be 50% cheaper price on the ride if you book all month.  Maybe its a subscription service or there are bonuses for free rides, etc.  If it catches on, it could cut traffic quite a bit.

     

    Third idea:  Mass war and disease should cut the population in general.  That would certainly clear the roads

  5. I’m in Chicago so traffic is a god damn norm here, even often at odd hours of the day, not rush hours.

    The sprawl of the suburbs is definitely a huge factor, putting way more people on the road each day.  The “expressways” here were built in a different era when there weren’t so many people far away in the distant burbs so they are woefully outdated now.  More cars on the road=more shitty drivers=more accidents which make already bad traffic worse.

    And to go off on another cause and effect, the reason you have so much suburban sprawl here is due to the increased cost of housing within the city proper. If you want to live in a good area, you’re paying through the nose.  Places for a family could go from $500K well past 1 million and you’re not getting some kind of palace.  You’ll have a normal sized home squished between other places which can sometimes be total shitholes.

  6. As I’ve shown with my one-accident-per-15-year track record, driving safely is not difficult.

    LOL seriously. The most recent accident I got into was backing into someone. Before that, someone hit-and-ran me and that was a decade ago. And before that, I rear-ended someone who cut me off, way back in 2002 which was my third year driving. I was somehow at fault for that. And this was in South Florida.

    Its crazy how I’m more worried driving at night about police randomly pulling me over and shooting me if I move a muscle than a wreck on the road. This is kind of why I prefer very busy roads, this way I don’t have to worry about police.

    I swear, if I had the right equipment, I’d be going Judge Dredd and making all kinds of citizens’ arrests on the police out here. I would even shout “I AM THE LAW!” while blowing their kneecaps off.

  7. I don’t expect any of this to ever happen (in the Western world anyway) since government doesn’t have that kind of creativity. I’m just stunned that most major cities in the world still force everyone to sit in their cars for over an hour just because they haven’t figured out a simple way (one of which I just described) to clear the roads fast for when accidents occur.

    That’s because the idiots in the government don’t care if traffic is congested or if people waste their time. If they did, all kinds of solutions would have been implemented ages ago.

  8. why are these people driving to work?

    Yep, that’s an entirely different (big) topic, but quite relevant.

    I estimate that only about 20% of office workers actually need to drive to the office to do their work and can work remotely instead.

    The corporate world is very slow to change though. This is one of those “wait until all the old people die” things, then when normal (younger) people are in charge, they’ll realize how stupid and costly it is for all these office workers to actually drive to work and sit in expensive rented offices when they don’t need to.

  9. The reason there is traffic congestion is quite simple — the people who build the roads don’t pay for the inconvenience their incompetence creates. People don’t fix screw ups and inefficiencies they cause unless they pay the cost of those screw ups and inefficiencies. For example, how many times have you driven down a highway to see miles of traffic bollards and no workers? Why? Because worker time comes out of their budget, your two hours sitting fuming about it comes out of yours.

    For the last three nights my ISP has had their service out for an hour. Very annoying. Guess what though? First I solved the problem by using my mobile hotspot, second I am going to dump the incompetent bastards.

    Unfortunately, here in Chicago, you can’t dump the incompetent bastards who run I-55, which has road construction almost continuously.

    Interestingly though, some of the expressways here in the midwest are actually owned by (or technically leased I believe) by private corporations. Illinois could solve their traffic congestion problems fairly simply — we have all toll roads for expressways — so charge more for busy times (you know, like private company Uber does), and make it false advertising, or failure of the lease contract, to charge a toll when the average expressway speed falls below 40 mph.

    Chicago has basically three expressways from the suburbs into the city (I55, I290 and I90/94.) Have them run by private corps using the above rules (and allow them some flexibility) and the roads would very quickly change. They might even adopt your helicopter idea. After all, it is money in the bank for them. For the government, they’ll never do it because it is just all cost to them. Much rather distribute the cost on the wasted time of commuters.

    Of course you commenter is right that a lot of the solution is telecommuting. However, one comment for you all to think about. My experience is that women are FAR less enthusiastic about telecommuting than men. For them the isolation is unpleasant, they like the social aspect of office life (also called the “non productive time wasting bullshit.”) And if part of the team has to be there, everyone does. After all, who am I going to talk about the latest episode of Grey’s anatomy if everyone is working from home? By no means is that universally true, I do know I lot of women who like telecommuting (it does offer them a level of flexibility that benefits them from a “mom” perspective.) Me? I love my work from home situation. I can get more done in two hours working from home than a whole day in an office with all the associated meaningless blather.

    One other comment (sorry if I am rambling.) I am similar to you, I have had three accidents in my long driving career, though in fairness to me, two of them I was sitting stopped at a red light and someone crashed into me, so I think I can say I wasn’t at fault (the other was a minor fender bender caused by my not anticipating some ice in stop and go traffic.)

    However, I had a realization about driving (after twenty five years behind the wheel) recently. It struck me that about half of all drivers have an IQ below 100. Probably 15% have an IQ below 90. So when I am getting mad at that guy for cutting me off, I remind myself that the guy might well be certifiably dumb as a box of rocks. That added to the isolation, anonymity and road rage problem (a precursor BTW of the kind of hatefulness you see on the internet, also caused by isolation and anonymity) makes me realize that it is a f***king miracle that there aren’t vastly more traffic incidents than there actually are.

    So now when someone cuts me off, or doesn’t put on his blinker, or screeches through a residential area, or cuts and winds through traffic, I just thank my lucky stars that the moron (possibly literally) is going away from me, and not toward me.

     

  10. Fine anyone who is clearly at fault for any accident that causes any major traffic problems in your city. By “clearly at fault,” I mean if all the insurance companies clearly identify one dumbass as the 100% cause of the accident, fine that son of a bitch $5,000 for fucking up everyone else’s day and damaging the infrastructure viability of your city.

    Or, permit every person inconvenienced by the moron one stroke of the lash.

    Our societies have gotten rid of corporal punishment, but you know – it might have been a bit of a mistake.

    Will Ascendia have corporal punishment? It’s quick, cheap, sends an unmistakably simple message. Wouldn’t it be better to reserve prison for people who will continue to be a threat to society for years to come, and apply a stout judicial flogging to offenders who possibly might learn from the experience? Why lock people up for years at taxpayer expense?

    Perhaps it might be reasonable to reserve imprisonment for people who commit crimes against the person, and cane people for mere crimes against property. It (or the threat of it) might be especially effective with people thinking of committing fraud or other white collar crimes.

  11. Third idea:  Mass war and disease should cut the population in general.  That would certainly clear the roads

    Buddy, are you ok? Have you been feeling well lately? Any major headaches? Vision problems?

    I swear, if I had the right equipment, I’d be going Judge Dredd and making all kinds of citizens’ arrests on the police out here. I would even shout “I AM THE LAW!” while blowing their kneecaps off.

    Same question.

     

     

  12. And to go off on another cause and effect, the reason you have so much suburban sprawl here is due to the increased cost of housing within the city proper. If you want to live in a good area, you’re paying through the nose.

    Some of us want to live in the suburbs even if it would be cheaper to live in the city. We enjoy the wide open space, the low population density, the “sprawl” and most of all, the safety!

    A lot of us are white, so we’re not welcome in the city. I have no plans on getting polar beared or having a cap busted in my ass just because “I be white yo.” I’m also not enthusiastic about getting woken up by police sirens in the middle of the night or getting 12 different locks on my doors and bars on my windows just to avoid MS 13 or some Black Lives Matter retard wanting some personal reparations!

     

  13. Its crazy how I’m more worried driving at night about police randomly pulling me over and shooting me if I move a muscle

    LOL! Someone has been watching too many Young Turks clips. Dude, lay off the PC. It’s bad for you. If you do what the nice officer tells you, don’t get a self-righteous attitude, keep your hands where he can see them, and follow all directions with respect and courtesy, no one will shoot you.

    Just act civilized and you’ll have no problem.

    This is kind of why I prefer very busy roads, this way I don’t have to worry about police.

    You sure you aren’t just afraid that they’ll arrest you for driving without car insurance?

     

  14. Why lock people up for years at taxpayer expense?

    Perhaps it might be reasonable to reserve imprisonment for people who commit crimes against the person, and cane people for mere crimes against property.

    Personally, I don’t see why prisons should even exist. The type of crime doesn’t matter. Like you said, housing people at taxpayer expense is bullshit.

    All criminal punishment should be corporal. Theft should be punished with reimbursement and restitution, flogging, or amputation. Physical violence should observe the “eye for an eye” principle. Major crimes like murder, rape, and child molestation should be punished by death. No need for prisons for anything! But we do need to repeal the 8th Amendment.

     

     

  15. @Jack,

     

    I understand why some folks would want to do the burbs for reasons you listed.   I’m in Chicago so I see the problems firsthand in the city limits.  My point was that it is a cause of the increased traffic since most job opportunities still reside in the city proper.  Most people I work with in the city all come in from the burbs.

    Another issue in Chicago at least is how spread out the actual city is by itself.  It’s often more trouble than it’s worth to get around by public transit so I end up driving.  The trains all basically flow into the downtown “loop” area which does you little good when trying to get from my neighborhood to another that isn’t in or near downtown.  I sense that places like NYC do this better by connecting the subways in a more efficient way to bounce around the city.

  16. Will Ascendia have corporal punishment?

    If I were in charge of a nation, yes, since I agree with your arguments, but Ascendia isn’t “me” but rather “libertarian as possible” so no. A true libertarian doesn’t want to give the state the power to physically assault/damage you.

  17. If I were in charge of a nation, yes, since I agree with your arguments,

    And then:

    A true libertarian doesn’t want to give the state the power to physically assault/damage you.

    So, are you saying you’re not a true libertarian? 🙂

  18. I think we all need a bit of a reminder what criminal justice is about. Criminal punishment is not meant to bring about one single goal, it is several purposes all intermixed together. Our moral codes and our criminal justice system are essentially evolutionary systems, especially so common law systems like in the anglosphere and Westminster derived systems, they have developed, mutated, adapted and changed based on prevailing circumstances. And like all evolutionary systems, although it is effective in many ways, it is also a tangled mess of unrelated stuff.

    Criminal punishment is just such a thing. Really there are three types of punishment in the west: imprisonment, fines (including non monetary forfeiture), and temporary enslavement (such as “community service”.) Prison has many different purposes, and people tend to get stuck on the one they are particularly in favor of. Prisons are designed to: separate bad people out of the population so that they cannot do the inevitable damage they will do; punish people by boring the shit out of them for years on end, and steal their most productive years; offer a sense of vengeance, but in a manner that is controlled and less likely to lead to chaos — such as unending blood feuds; rehabilitation — the laughable idea that by locking people up and training them they will become decent members of society; deterent — the idea that the threat of punishment will reduce the likelihood that you will offend; ostracization — a very ancient punishment where you are separated from the things you love and care for.

    These are all very different things, and are kind of mixed up in a “hammer and nail” type of approach. Because it can be said to fulfill all these different purposes you can argue in favor of it, adjusting your argument depending on the context (including if you are talking to a bleeding heart liberal or a “string ’em high” conservative. But the  real truth is that the prison system is an utter mess.

    (Of course it would be much more manageable were it not for the fact that the jails are full of people who are being punished for things that did nobody any harm at all, like selling a bit of weed to their friends, or, horrifyingly in some places like Britain or Canada, for expressing an opinion that others didn’t like.)

    The problem is compounded by the fact that the criminal justice system is run by the government, and may well be the least efficient system ever designed in human history. Again, it is a messy evolutionary evolved system. There is a saying in criminal justice that you should allow 9 guilty men to go free lest one innocent be punished. But why 9? Why not 99, or 9,999? What is the balance between the false punishment rate and the failure to punish rate? This isn’t well defined at all, if it just a hazy, handwavy approximation. The fact is that there are lots of innocent people in jail and if we adopted the ways some suggest above, they would be traumatized by unjust beatings, missing parts of their body, or cold and dead in the grave.

    Like with many in the west we see out criminal justice system as basically right, and think that the solution is to tweak it at the edges. However, if you have an open mind you might want to read David Friedman’s book on the matter. “Legal Systems Very Different than Ours”, in which he examines DRAMATICALLY different approaches to criminal law that have been used by many societies throughout history. It is webbed here:

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Course_Pages/legal_systems_very_different_12/LegalSystemsDraft.html

    (BTW, for those of you who don’t know, Friedman has impeccable libertarian credentials. He is, in a sense, the intellectual leader of the anarcho-capitalist school of libertarianism, and his father, Milton, was the founder of Chicago school economics, the system that blasted to pieces JMK’s ideas, and saved us in the sixties from descending into economic chaos. If you are an out of the box thinker you should read David Friedman’s blog. Very interesting guy.)

  19. The fact is that there are lots of innocent people in jail and if we adopted the ways some suggest above, they would be traumatized by unjust beatings, missing parts of their body, or cold and dead in the grave.

    There are solutions to this too. I can’t believe courts are still using the oath, or honor, system. Hospitals have technology which can hook equipment up to your brain and, on a visual display, parts of your brain light up if you’re telling the truth and other parts light up if you’re lying.

    “Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” just got a whole lot easier!

     

  20. Same question.

    Oh come on. I KNOW you would do this if you had the materials. Anyone would. I think everyone should make (or attempt to) make a citizen’s arrest at least once in their lives, specifically on authorities.

    You sure you aren’t just afraid that they’ll arrest you for driving without car insurance?

    That’s already happened a couple times lol. Not afraid, just don’t like dealing with the inconvenience. I get more frustrated with the potential of being pulled over than scared. But that’s been handled now, finally was able to get some cheap insurance after shopping around a bit. It goes against my principles but meh, whatevs.

    LOL! Someone has been watching too many Young Turks clips. Dude, lay off the PC. It’s bad for you. If you do what the nice officer tells you, don’t get a self-righteous attitude, keep your hands where he can see them, and follow all directions with respect and courtesy, no one will shoot you. Just act civilized and you’ll have no problem.

    I know, I was just exaggerating. Like I said, its more annoying to deal with officers and fines and crap than scary. It doesn’t mean we don’t live in a police state however and you can’t deny that authorities have too much access to lethal weapons. I just think its hilarious that left wingers want more firearm laws for citizens but not for authorities haha.

  21. What a cool thought. Do the choke points need a helicopter though? Thinking a cheaper option might be some kind of tow truck / bulldozer, and an ambulance, both parked there on standby. Would be great to see 🙂

  22. Good idea — having gov’t be more prepared at obvious problem spots.  However I would not vote for the expense.  Why?  Because my biggest complaint (much more than traffic) is that gov’t needs to prioritize rather than just add more taxes every year.  If a good idea comes up, cut out some worse ideas to pay for it.  This is normal adult budgeting 101.

    At this point I’d rather see gov’t starve than grow a penny larger.  No matter how good the idea.

  23. I’d rather see gov’t starve than grow a penny larger.  No matter how good the idea.

    Legit.

  24. Thinking a cheaper option might be some kind of tow truck / bulldozer, and an ambulance, both parked there on standby.

    Nope, they’d have to navigate the snagged traffic. A helicopter would not.

    At this point I’d rather see gov’t starve than grow a penny larger.  No matter how good the idea.

    Of course I agree, but I’ve already addressed that in my numerous past articles on libertarianism.  I don’t want this system in the US or Europe where government is already out of control. I want this in a system where the federal government doesn’t do anything and where individual cities do whatever they want, and I have the freedom to choose which city I live in.

    The Western world is already beyond fixing regardless of good ideas.

  25. Here in Southern California OUR FREEWAYS ARE PERPETUALLY FUCKED. Inland Empire, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego.. 

    We can have the tax dollars allocated for something like this and they’ll still fuck it up, because our Democrat super majority.. how could anything get fixed? LOL

    You basically just have to account for the lost time and have Podcasts and Audiobooks ready.

  26. I want this in a system where the federal government doesn’t do anything and where individual cities do whatever they want…

    I realize I went off topic and I haven’t followed any of the “ideal” gov’t threads.  I’m sure they’re fine discussions full of good ideas, but I can’t enjoy that fantasy.  In my experience humans are ungovernable.

    You’ll always have sociopaths rise to power.  You’ll always have the 80 percenters voting for socialism.  You’ll always have the lazy, corrupt and incompetent weaseling into the easy gov’t pay trough.  Therefore, any system will eventually turn to crap in time.

    The US is a perfect example.  It was a federal gov’t that didn’t do anything until just before the civil war.  Slowly but surely it turned to crap.

    Just look at any company with more than a few hundred employees.  Many do nothing all day.  Most actively resist cooperating with others.  About 1 in 20 would come up with the helicopter idea and be told that it is impossible to implement.

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