# Law of reaction times

#### Benson

Registered Senior Member
Let's take driving on the roads. We all have a licence to drive, to some adequate driving level. Imagine you can quantify/measure this driving ability, that includes reaction times etc.. We have scales for the likes of earthquakes, me mineral hardness etc..

So pick a driving ability scale and you devise a test to figure out a drivers score. It could encompass adherence percentage to the Highway Code, reaction time etc.. and it's scaled 1 to 10, 10 being the best. Person A's alround driving skill/ability is a 5. Person B is a brilliant driver, super fast reaction time etc.. and is a 10.

Now person B has a couple of beers and is breathalyzed at the side of the road. Oh dear, he's over the limit so he's arrested. If he immediately took the driving scale test, he scores a 6.

But he's still a better and safer driver than person A, so what is he really charged for?

(By the way, I've never drink drive or condone it, it was a discussion point I had between friends).

But he's still a better and safer driver than person A, so what is he really charged for?

Noooooooo

Reaction time is only one aspect of driving

Decision making is the biggie

Deciding to drive when over the legal limit (which is probably a unknown when decision made) means a failure before the key goes in the ignition

Noooooooo

Reaction time is only one aspect of driving

Decision making is the biggie

Deciding to drive when over the legal limit (which is probably a unknown when decision made) means a failure before the key goes in the ignition

Hence "etc..."

So the test covers everything, even decision making. Person B drops down to 6 on the driving ability score person A is a 5.

Let's take driving on the roads. We all have a licence to drive, to some adequate driving level. Imagine you can quantify/measure this driving ability, that includes reaction times etc.. We have scales for the likes of earthquakes, me mineral hardness etc..

So pick a driving ability scale and you devise a test to figure out a drivers score. It could encompass adherence percentage to the Highway Code, reaction time etc.. and it's scaled 1 to 10, 10 being the best. Person A's alround driving skill/ability is a 5. Person B is a brilliant driver, super fast reaction time etc.. and is a 10.

Now person B has a couple of beers and is breathalyzed at the side of the road. Oh dear, he's over the limit so he's arrested. If he immediately took the driving scale test, he scores a 6.

But he's still a better and safer driver than person A, so what is he really charged for?

(By the way, I've never drink drive or condone it, it was a discussion point I had between friends).
Yes there is something to this. A young, testosterone-fuelled boy racer may be more of a danger to himself and others when sober than an experienced and cautious middle-aged driver who is a little over the legal alcohol limit. Speed is the big killer k.e. = 1/2 mv SQUARED.

BUT society needs rules that are applied equally to all, in order to get buy-in from the public to adhere to them. It would be wholly impractical to set different rules for different people, based on criteria that could always be challenged as unfair or not correctly applied.

In the UK, the vast majority of drink-drive accidents are caused by people well over the legal limit. So the issue is one of enforcement of the existing limits and not, as some politicians and puritanical campaigners pretend, whether current limits are adequate.

BUT society needs rules that are applied equally to all,
Great point

Which leads to - if individuals had their own set of rules how frequently would they have to be updated?

Hence "etc..."

This etc?

We have scales for the likes of earthquakes, me mineral hardness etc..

Well the two examples you mention have various scales

Apart from that, each of the scales are standardised and measurements comparable with other measurements

To scale humans you would need a standard for numerous groupings

Not going to happen

But the gold standard for performing anything in the social area is

DON'T DO IT IF YOU ARE IMPAIRED FROM ANY CAUSE

So how many causes can you list which would impair a person?

Whatever scale is used for law enforcement must inform the person making the decision to drive or not, when they are making the decision.
But he's still a better and safer driver than person A, so what is he really charged for?
Being a worse driver than he should be, because he drank more than the law allows a driver to drink.

I have known people who were better drivers with a beer or two in them than they were sober. The law that sets the blood level is unfair to them - but so is a law that forbids all theft, to some thieves in some circumstances. So is any law. The key is to set the level wisely - and not, as fanaticism tends to creep into, try to make the world perfect by force.

One of the ways to ameliorate the unfairness of blood level laws is to regulate enforcement - if the police cannot pull you over without due cause, the driver who is unimpaired by that blood level will not suffer unfairly.

This etc?

Well the two examples you mention have various scales

Apart from that, each of the scales are standardised and measurements comparable with other measurements

To scale humans you would need a standard for numerous groupings

Not going to happen

But the gold standard for performing anything in the social area is

DON'T DO IT IF YOU ARE IMPAIRED FROM ANY CAUSE

So how many causes can you list which would impair a person?

As in

Imagine you can quantify/measure this driving ability, that includes reaction times etc..

Yes there is something to this. A young, testosterone-fuelled boy racer may be more of a danger to himself and others when sober than an experienced and cautious middle-aged driver who is a little over the legal alcohol limit. Speed is the big killer k.e. = 1/2 mv SQUARED.

BUT society needs rules that are applied equally to all, in order to get buy-in from the public to adhere to them. It would be wholly impractical to set different rules for different people, based on criteria that could always be challenged as unfair or not correctly applied.

In the UK, the vast majority of drink-drive accidents are caused by people well over the legal limit. So the issue is one of enforcement of the existing limits and not, as some politicians and puritanical campaigners pretend, whether current limits are adequate.

Yes, they're applied equally but not fairly. You can have fairness, but not equality.

Yes, they're applied equally but not fairly. You can have fairness, but not equality.
In a society where driving is almost a necessity, it isn't "fair" to deprive somebody of the ability to drive just because he's really bad at it. It is "fair" to apply the same standards to everybody, whether they are a real hazard (bad driver) or just a potential hazard (drunk driver).

As in

Imagine you can quantify/measure this driving ability, that includes reaction times etc..
You can't

Well you can imagine but can never implement

To many etc's

it isn't "fair" to deprive somebody of the ability to drive just because he's really bad at it

I'm glad you are not on medical board which qualifies surgeons

One of the ways to ameliorate the unfairness of blood level laws is to regulate enforcement - if the police cannot pull you over without due cause, the driver who is unimpaired by that blood level will not suffer unfairly.
That would be a really bad idea.

How many accidents are prevented because, following a random breath test, the police stop drivers who are over the limit and likely, if their behaviour is unregulated, to go on to cause an accident?

The police can't be everywhere at once. Nor is always possible for them to detect erratic driving prior to an accident occurring. It is far more effective to reduce the risk of injury or death through the random screening of drivers.

Yes, they're applied equally but not fairly. You can have fairness, but not equality.
Not without taking every case to court and having a judge weigh up what is "fair", you can't. Which would be quite impracticable. Criminal law needs to be easy for the public to understand, so that they can comply with it, and easy for the police to determine when it has been infringed.

I'm glad you are not on medical board which qualifies surgeons
I did say, "In a society where driving is almost a necessity, it isn't 'fair' to deprive somebody of the ability to drive just because he's really bad at it." We don't live in a society where being a surgeon is a necessity. Fairness applies in some situations, not all.

We don't live in a society where being a surgeon is a necessity.
I'm glad you think you are never going to need surgery

I'm glad you think you are never going to need surgery
Having surgeons is a necessity. Being a surgeon isn't. Hint: Substitute "oxygen" for "surgeon".

Having surgeons is a necessity
Having good drivers is necessary, bad ones kill themselves and maybe others

Bads surgeons don't necessarily kill themselves but are likely to kill others

Having good drivers is necessary...
No it isn't. It's only preferable.

DrivING is necessary.

How many accidents are prevented because, following a random breath test, the police stop drivers who are over the limit and likely, if their behaviour is unregulated, to go on to cause an accident?
Almost none, in my neck of the woods. They tried it. (People who don't show impaired driving are also unlikely to get into accidents, it turns out)
What happened instead was a whole lot of auxiliary enforcement, since the police could now pull anyone over at any time and demand their papers, check their records, run drugsniffing dogs through their cars, etc. People lost their jobs, ran up thousands in court costs and other bills, were jailed on false positives, had cars they had loaned to others seized, etc. It was eventually thrown out as unConstitutional.
The police can't be everywhere at once. Nor is always possible for them to detect erratic driving prior to an accident occurring. It is far more effective to reduce the risk of injury or death through the random screening of drivers.
It is not much more effective, and it greatly increases the harmful side effects of the law.