I generally disdain watching television. The biggest exception I grant for myself is auto racing. I’m a fan of motorcycle and Formula 1 racing and a casual fan of other series’ as well.
One of the better programs for a race fan to watch is Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SpeedTV. The show runs on Sunday evenings and provides a recap of everything recent in racing from motocross to NASCAR.
On Saturdays NASCAR race in Daytona Florida there was an accident in which a car flew into the catch fence on the front straightaway and a tire flew over and injured some people.
On Wind Tunnel, Despain talked about such accidents. Years ago NASCAR put restrictor plates on the cars to slow them down on the large speedways, the idea being that the faster they are the easier they will take flight.
Their is logic to this argument. Faster planes take off easier. However Mr. Despains argument is that the speeds have not been reduced enough by the restrictor plates and that they should be further altered to bring speeds down to ~180 MPH. Following the logic of increased speed leading to increased lift this would make sense.
Except there is this matter to consider. When the cars are restricted as the superspeedways like Daytona they are almost all equal and run in very large groups. Large groups of cars traveling alongside each other are more prone to have accidents than small groups or individual cars.
I bring this up as a demonstration in thinking because there are two theories to consider. Are the cars more dangerous, for both drivers and spectators, when faster but spaced apart, or when slower and in large groups that are guaranteed to cause a massive wreck.
No doubt the extra speed makes them riskier, but risk means a possibility not a certainty, however the slower speeds almost certainly guarantee a large wreck.
It would be interesting to see someone conduct a study on this. Traffic: Why we drive the way we do, is a book by Tom Vanderbilt that challenges many assumptions about the way we think about traffic and how we drive in real life that would be comparable in a way.
Speed or Traffic, what is worse?