Our expertise in navigating traffic makes us judge the vehicular speed and distance between our vehicle and the vehicle ahead of us. Presenting our perspective concerning the variance in visual RT, which is the brain's time to process the information. This involves sequences of events before the action can be implemented, which could be one of the influencers for speed control. Based on the assembly of substantial evidence stating that different brain areas work to regulate the speed while driving, (7,8) we derived the tentative post lockdown vehicular speed using the visual RT and pre lockdown speed.
It has been authenticated that the RT increases with increasing age and increase in inactivity duration. (6) The disparity in our results, showing a negative correlation between the RT and duration of inactivity, implies the need for further investigation down the line. The plausible cause of this negative correlation can be due to increased mobile screen time of participants, resulting in exceptional responses, as demonstrated by J. Huang et al.(9) However, the converse can also be true, which is akin to our assumption that inactivity can prolong the RT. Therefore, the negative correlation strengthens our hypothesis that the RT increases with an increase in inactivity duration. Contrary to the expectation, we did not find a significant correlation between aLRT with age (r=0.04, p=0.34, 95% CI -0.04 to 0.11) and aLRT with days of lockdown (as in Table 2). The most likely reason for it could be because the shortest RT is a curiosity-driven initial response, while the longest RT is the wearied one. Due to unavailability of pre- lockdown data, we consider SRT as an average RT before lockdown and LRT as an average RT after lockdown. Let us understand our perspective with an example:
Before lockdown, a person X is riding with a constant ACS of 11.11 m s-1 (40 km h-1) and at an average RT, which would be equal to SRT = 0.5 s. After lockdown, the same person has an average RT equal to LRT = 0.7 s. Here, there can be two alternatives –
4.1-Constant Speed (no acceleration)
For a rider riding at a constant speed (no acceleration). Distance travelled in time (SRT) = 11.11×0.5 = 5.555 m; we call it as safety distance. Now for the brain to cruise post lockdown with a reduced RT of 0.7 s. The brain can tackle it in either of the two ways:
To maintain the same safe distance (5.555 m). The rider should drive at a constant speed of:
= 5.555/0.7 = 7.9357 m s-1 (28.5685 km h-1)
To maintain the same constant speed (11.11 m s-1). The rider should maintain a safe distance of:
= 11.11×0.7 = 7.777 m
It is unjust to ascribe only the RT for braking while omitting deceleration, as drivers use both back and forth. Hence,
4.2-The Application of The Brake.
For rider applying brake (deceleration) and with an average rider, max deceleration = 4.6 m s-2.(10). (Even if we consider the negative correlation of RT with the days of lockdown in the present study, the deceleration seen post lockdown would still be higher than the normal; hence contemplating driver maximum would be more appropriate). Distance travelled in time (SRT) = 11.11×0.5 -0.5×4.6x (0.5)2 = 4.98 m of minimum braking distance or safe distance. Similarly, for the brain to cruise post lockdown with a reduced RT of 0.7 s. The brain can tackle it in either of the two ways:
To maintain the same safe distance (4.98 m). The rider should attain a speed of:
= (4.98+0.5×4.6×0.7×0.7)/0.7 = 8.724 m s-1 (31.4064 km h-1).
To maintain the same speed (11.11 m s-1). The rider should maintain a distance.
= 11.11 × 0.7- (0.5 × 4.6 × 0.7 × 0.7) = 6.65 m
Nevertheless, every individual has its range of deceleration depending upon their driving skill, type of vehicle and condition of road. This hinders the generalised application of average rider max in countries with poorly regulated traffic.(11) For analogous reasons, it was not implemented in the present study as well. Moreover, it may remain unchanged post lockdown. The calculations given above can be well acknowledged, but with the consideration that acceleration/deceleration cannot be regarded due to lack of feasibility. Maintaining a safe distance at the lowest speed would be the safest approach, coexisting with uniform speed calculation. Thereupon, we proceed with emphasising visual RT and maintaining uniform speed. Therefore, a driver can use either a comfortable speed or safe distance, both conditioned in the brain. Which was kept at a constant range for using simultaneously subconsciously while driving. This speed can be achieved in the best possible way through fine-tuning the RT and acceleration or deceleration. After habituating the traffic movement pattern, the brain can be conditioned to maintain a safe distance and comfortable speed to avoid fatalities. Therefore, lack of practice might affect this automaticity.(2) Hence, we presume that post lockdown in a small group of the population, the RT falls beyond the constant range, with a growing probability of misjudgements and collisions. To forestall this, the driver must make some voluntary adjustments with either the speed or the distance.
4.2.3 Among the speed or distance, modulation in which of these would yield better safety on the road?
Recalling our driving lessons, do you remember learning to speed up at the very beginning? Or simply mastering the basics first, which included driving slowly at a safe distance from the other vehicles. Likewise, downscaling the speed would decrease the impact during a collision by abating the momentum. Once we achieve proficiency, we acquire the skill of driving faster and maintaining much less distance from the other vehicles. Therefore, a need for detailed studies should be carried out to understand the activity of the brain during and after the driving lessons and how and when it switches from one to another to manipulate speed and distance. We also propose ascertaining a specific centre in the brain that controls the speed. Adhering to our primitive learning behaviour where we give more importance to distance than speed, we would tend to keep a safe distance. Hence, as explained above, maintaining a safe distance at the lowest speed would be the safest approach, coexisting with uniform speed calculations. We have used it to sensitise the public to quantify their speed post lockdown, as patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in the one ahead. Hence, the theme of the study was to heave the quote ‘Speed thrills but kills.
4.3. Shortcomings of our study.
The difficulty level of the visual stimulus test page was easy, as the number of clicks that provide the response time was limited to just 20. This gave crude results. In different studies, after excluding scientific errors, the statistically normal RT is 310ms,(3) while in our study, the technical errors have not been taken into consideration. Moreover, fast drivers and slow drivers can nullify their effects post lockdown and since stringent observation of the traffic rules and regulations in developing countries is difficult, the study's generalised application seems difficult and erroneous.
However, any technique that can reduce the impact or number of collisions will be benevolent to society. As they say, benevolence is absolute, and real kindness costs nothing but means everything.