No one should be punished for SMIDSY

so much going on especially driving in a busy city centre that smidsy is unavoidable. Imagine a car driver, looking at traffic ahead, signage, pedestrians, lights, and then undertaking bikes on the left… Its alot and no one should be punished for smidsy.

That is the opinion that Pentdad posted on one of my videos. The incident in question is a fairly generic SMIDSY in the form of a lane change. It isn’t clear in the video but i was forced to brake quite a bit to avoid being side swiped by the rear of the vehicle.

Whilst I would not wish for a driver to get banned for a SMIDSY, at present people do get punished for SMIDSY’s and those people are cyclists and motorcyclists. Road users need to be aware that 2 wheelers are harder to spot but not impossible, take your time and you will see them.

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11 thoughts on “No one should be punished for SMIDSY

  1. If you can’t handle that cognitive workload, why the f*ck are you propelling a half tonne of metal along city streets, for christ’s sake?

    I despair of attitudes in this country, I really do. Driving is a skilled, demanding task – people need to start thinking of it as such, and be far, far more aware of the responsibility they have to other people, especially pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclists.

  2. I agree with the monkey. Cognitive workload is a good way of encapsulating the set of demands required by a driver, add to that the dexterity required to physically control the vehicle. You can see it: some people are maxed out by the experience. I witnessed a driver who tried to wave a thanks to my son and I (as pedestrians already crossing) because we stopped to let her take a left. In doing so she lost control of the vehicle slightly – doing nothing else but turn left and trying to hold a hand up. Now, factor in moving traffic, road furniture, signage – and I wonder why there aren’t more pranged cars and people lying about. Shall we even start on the chap I saw turning left, on a mobile phone, WHILE EATING AN ICE CREAM CONE????!!!!

  3. No defence of SMIDSY behaviour here, except to note that the “fast bike up bus lane past stationary traffic” tactic does have bad visibility, and you have to include that in your plans. The car waiting to turn right will have it’s line of sight blocked by the stationary cars, the one leaving the gap may well have flashed its lights to say “go ahead”. Its turning and it has no better visibility of you coming up that you get of it.

    The one advantage you have over the car is better experience of the situation, better expectation of turning cars. If they still surprise you, you need to upgrade your threat model.

    That doesn’t make their actions defensible -but it’s less malicious than pulling out on roundabouts with out bothering to slow down or look. It’s just their focus on “I can turn!” has got in the way of “there might be something in the bike lane”. Pedestrians can get caught out this way too -one got killed by a taxi in Bristol last year.

    The other SMIDSY issue is the “I can’t be bothered to look” action, frequently seen on Cotham Hill: http://bristolcars.blogspot.com/search/label/cotham-hill

    One cause here (which I’ve experience as the passenger of a car nearly hitting a cyclist” is that the top of the road is one-way with contraflow, so the drivers coming out of Aberdeen Road have little expectation of vehicles coming down the hill -and they won’t have ever done it themselves. That means they may assume its one-way, and so don’t look

  4. Fully agree with both above. I did see a suggestion somewhere the other day that it would be a good idea to make a driving license as difficult and expensive to obtain as a pilots license. This should in turn remove a large section of people from the road.

    Most people seem to view driving as a coming of age right rather then a privilege as this is evident in the lack of respect they show other road users, add to this a government who has a softly softly approach to drivers and it’s no wonder people have this view. Kill someone with a knife or gun and you’ll be looking at a long stint in prison. Do the same thing in a car and you’ll most likely get away with a slap on the wrist and a warning to “be more careful in the future”

  5. It’s all part of the “Institutional Motorism” malaise, where driving without due care and attention seems to be the default, and generally accepted, setting.

    Nothing that remedial driving tuition, anger management therapy and an eyesight examination won’t sort out. 🙂

    Agree with the above statement that a car driving licence should be as expensive and as difficult to obtain as a private pilot’s licence

  6. So what if there are lots of things to think about, a high Cognitive workload? Cyclists are included in that, not extra.
    The classic SMIDSY translates to “I looked but didn’t comprehend” and there’s no excuse – that’s driving without due care and attention. The related “I didn’t bother looking” is worse as it speaks of an I’m-more-important-than-anyone-else mindset.

    The other kind we’re talking about, as often happens when using a bus lane to pass a queue of cars, is more SMICSY (“Sorry Mate I Couldn’t See You”). Nine times out of ten (or more often) that becomes WTWCINHY/YNHM (“Whoa That Was Close I Nearly Hit You/You Nearly Hit Me” – not so catchy) and these generally show awareness of the dangers and good attention, though maybe that’s me speaking from a driver’s perspective. Around here there are a number of junctions where it’s hard enough to see cars let alone bikes. I’m thinking of Manor Road/Portland Road in South Norwood (http://tinyurl.com/3dpbr6o) in particular, and even being careful there it’s possible to miss a cyclist in the gutter because they’re obscured.

    So:
    SMIDSY/SMIDL – no excuse
    SMICSY – usually no excuse, rarely avoidable only by not being there.

    Should drivers be punished? Give it parity with other offences – let a court decided if there are extenuating circumstances. And stop considering job/mood/ice cream/etc as valid excuses.

    • That one can be a pain!

      There are also a couple of tricky ones on Grange Road slightly further up. Getting onto it from Hythe Road and Beauchamp Road mean an obscured view not helped by the sharp angle they join at and with Beauchamp it’s a hillstart on a very sharp turn – Had a rather bad smell of burnt clutch after trying to get out of there in a fully loaded Streetvan once 😀

  7. Thing is, to drive with the level of care and attention that really IS due, is almost impossibly fatiguing given the amount that most people drive. Adopting the “it won’t happen to me” mentality is pretty much a necessary psychological defence mechanism for drivers…

    – on motorways, conditions are such that in the event of a mechanical failure, you can be pretty much certain of crashing – nobody leaves anything remotely close to safe braking distance, even assuming optimal reaction time. Yes, such failures are comparatively rare in modern cars, but the risk profile still compares very unfavourably with most activities.

    – on country roads, speeds are such that in the event of a large animal running out in to the road, you’ve basically got no chance of stopping.

    – again, in built up areas, you don’t have visibility or awareness of everything that might happen, or sufficient time to react if it does.

    … and yet when any of this happens, it’s seen as a blameless, “these things happen” accident, rather than a deliberate decision to operate a piece of machinery in a plainly unsafe manner. Ditto when a car hits a pedestrian or cyclist and the pedestrian/cyclist is held to be “at fault”. Sure, perhaps they made a mistake, but by choosing to operate a car at all in a place where you know there will be people, and bikes, you’re knowingly increasing the likelihood of somebody else’s mistake becoming a serious injury or fatality.

    I’ll admit to being a hardliner – I see driving a car in a city when there is a viable alternative as anti-social behaviour, on a par with graffiti or pissing in alleyways. The only motor vehicles in urban centers should be those with professionals at the wheel, and those professionals trained to the same safety criteria as others whose jobs involve operating dangerous machinery around members of the public. Airline pilots, train drivers and crane operators don’t have SMIDSYs.

  8. Perhaps the video cameras will instil an increased sense of responsibility (except for the few who are just plain incorrigible egotists) eventually as the incident videos circulate.

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