Will the “Ten Commandments of Driving” Create a “Benedict Effect”?

When I saw the first headlines, I thought it was some kind of a prank, but it’s not: the Vatican has issued a document concerning “the pastoral care of road users,” which includes a sober discussion of “the phenomenon of human mobility.”

It also contains a section called “Drivers’ ‘Ten Commandments,'” which has been the focus of tons of news coverage in the past 24 hours. The first commandment is “You shall not kill.” The second commandment is: “The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.” The document also encouraged drivers to pray: “During a journey it is also beneficial to pray vocally, especially taking turns with our fellow travellers in reciting the prayers, as when reciting the Rosary which, due to its rhythm and gentle repetition, does not distract the driver’s attention.”

Let’s set aside the question of whether reciting the Rosary indeed “does not distract the driver’s attention.” When I read this bit about prayer and auto safety, I immediately thought of the Peltzman Effect, named after the economist Sam Peltzman, which posits that safety regulations may make people behave more recklessly because they are protected.

The most famous Peltzman example argues that drivers who wear seat belts will drive more recklessly than if they were unbelted. (My favorite version of this theory is what I call the Lipitor Effect: if your daily diet includes 20 mg of the anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor, it can also include a pastrami sandwich.)

And so I wonder, will Pope Benedict and the Vatican create a similar effect by encouraging people to pray while they are driving? Will people who pray feel so well-protected that they drive less carefully? The hidden side of the Peltzman Effect is that, while belted drivers are far less likely to get hurt themselves in an accident, if they start driving more recklessly they are more likely to hurt pedestrians and others. Will the Benedict Effect, as well-intentioned as it is, produce a similar downside?


bmc

Drivers in the Washington D.C. area are nuts!

jovial_cynic

I suppose it depends on the prayer. If they are encouraged to pray for their own safety, I think that it just might create a feeling of protection that could lead to recklessness. But if they are encouraged to pray for the safety of those around them, they might feel led to be the answer to their own prayers.

j.a.s.o.n

The Speed Bump effect: Drivers on roadways and in parking lots with speed bumps drive faster than drivers on roadways and in parking lots without speed bumps; they increase their speed between speed bumps to compensate for having to slow down at the speed bumps.

oddTodd

Interesting aside: Expectation of a Peltzman Effect is why the NHL doesn't require face masks.

dthree

The 10 commandments of driving section is boring, check out section 2 (items 85-115) instead.

ronrule

Don't miss Curt Jester's Parody!

http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/008129.php

egretman

The stupidity of the pope is only rivaled by our own pandering of him up with which we should not put.

cottrill

In related research, automobile drivers will drive closer to bicyclists with helmets than without.

http://improbable.com/2007/06/20/bicycle-helmets/

clydicus

Peltzman Effect is being argued among downhill skiers these days. Nobody wore helmets 10 years ago, but I'd guess that 80% of skiers I saw this last season were wearing them. I think it started with the widely publicized Kennedy and Sonny Bono skiing deaths, which occurred withing a few years of one another. Many skiers now argue/worry that the helmets will embolden skiers to be more reckless.

Incidentally, head injuries from sking aren't *that* common. Used to be, the most common ski injury is a broken thumb, (the thumb can get wrenched or crushed against the pole handle in a fall. Newer pole designs seek to minimize this, so maybe it is not as common as it used to be.)

hanmeng

To die for: Reckless drivers saying, "God is on my side".

nedpwolf

This reminds me of story an old pastor of mine pastor told me with complete seriousness.

It seems one of the church members had no health insurance for her son and would pray every morning that he be would be safe. Which he was. No doctor visits. No injuries.

Eventually, she found employment and acquired comprehensive medical insurance for the family. A month later, her son broke his leg.

Now this can be looked at in a variety of ways, but the bizarre spin the pastor put on it was that it was probably better when she had no health insurance because she was more careful to pray about her son's health. The act of getting insurance made him more vulnerable to accident because she forgot to pray.

There was nothing I could say.

CatholicRight

Well, as a cradle Catholic I can tell you I remember many a family road trip where we recited the rosary. It was actually good at keeping us kids behaving (at least while we were praying). It would only be distracting if you pray with your eyes closed....
However, this was in the days before sophisticated car audio. Today, you can buy a whole number of musical rosaries on CD that not only 'recite' the rosary, but integrates scriptural reflection for each mystery.
Our Rosary was often offered for intercession of St. Anthony (patron saint of travelers).

mmrtech

I admit to playing sports more aggressively when I wear more protective gear.

Has anyone done a study attempting to correlate average vehicle size to accident rates? Are the well-protected SUV drivers being careless?

adorita

Just want to point our that the list has not been approved by the Pope. It was released by Cardinal Martino, which many consider as a lose canon in the Vatican. He's known to support genetic modification and strong interest in science.
"Martino Effect"? Doesn't sound as interesting.

majikthise

#4: What about players's argument that face masks obstruct vision? What about the NHL's desire that their marquee players be recognized? What about ensuring that fights have a point?

#13: I'm sure everyone who is protected acts more dangerously, but the more interesting question is whether the increase in dangerous activity completely consumes the increased safety effect (and whether it leads to an increased risk to bystanders).

barron pilgrim

10 COMMANDMENTS TO CAR SELLING;
1. IF THE CUSTOMERS MOUTH IS MOVING, HE IS LYING. 2. A MAN CANNOT MAKE A DECISION WITHOUT THE WIFE
3. THE MORE TALK , THE LESS BEACON. GOOD HAIR GOOD BEACON. 4. THE MORE A SALESMAN MAKES ON A CUSTOMER,THE MORE HE SEEMS TO BE LIKED. ETC,

barron pilgrim

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS TO CAR SELLING

BY- BARRON PILGRIM

1. If the customers mouth is moving he is probably lying.

2. The more money made on a customer the more he likes his salesman.

3. The hardest deal is one where you make no profit and the saleman is worn out and worked to death.

4. A woman alone can by a car a man can't he wants peace in his life.

5. The more a customer talks the lower the credit score.

6. Bad hair = bad or low credit score

7. After the demo drive if the get out and lock a door there is no sale.

8. A salesman must always smile when greeting a customer then the customer will smile back.

9. A car salesman must always tell the truth or keep his mouth shut.

10. A car salesman job is to listen and sort out the lies and the tricks and make something good happen from overcoming the objections.

bmc

Drivers in the Washington D.C. area are nuts!

jovial_cynic

I suppose it depends on the prayer. If they are encouraged to pray for their own safety, I think that it just might create a feeling of protection that could lead to recklessness. But if they are encouraged to pray for the safety of those around them, they might feel led to be the answer to their own prayers.

j.a.s.o.n

The Speed Bump effect: Drivers on roadways and in parking lots with speed bumps drive faster than drivers on roadways and in parking lots without speed bumps; they increase their speed between speed bumps to compensate for having to slow down at the speed bumps.