Thursday, May 17, 2007


Yesterday I was barreling down the concrete slab choked with tractor-trailers and nitro-burnining funny trucks laden with oily 2x4s and spent joint compound jugs, I was engaging my left brain in random problem solving ("Resolved: The world is as random as it is not.") and engaging my right wrist in focussed throttle control on my Triumph Bonneville. I hate the road - a stretch of oversubscribed interstate that at an unfamiliar time (around 3:00 pm) and was unfamiliar with how the traffic would be flowing. The part of the brain that controls motorcycle function became increasingly engaged.

Fortunately, it didn't come out of nowhere: some set of clues were processed so I was pretty sure the black sedan was going to dart into the part of highway I was occupying. I braked as much as I could, as the pickup behind was riding my exhaust, and I moved as far to the left of the lane as I could. Just as his door was nearing my knee, the driver of the sedan spotted me, and made a panic swerve back to his lane. No harm, no foul, just a cortex soaked in adrenaline. People pay good money for that.

Which led me to my thought. Do near misses count?

UK Civilian Aviation Authority Airprox Board
thinks so. They are dealing with potential accidents, however, with an not unreasonable assumption that neither party wishes a collision. There is no attacker, so it is easier to get both sides of the story, and a clearer, truer account of the incident, and quality information to improve the process. In a security incident, you will rarely get the other side of the story, so the account is skewed to what the defender has observed, and the attacker has failed to hide.

The Risk Management and Decision Process Center at the Wharton School has this brief description of its Near Miss Management study.

It may be nothing useful, but I'm wondering how "near miss" security incidents are handled. How are the elements of "luck" and "skill" (i.e, controls, response,etc.) allocated? Since the bullet was dodged, is there a increase in comfort in the level of security, even though it may have just been luck, or the actions of the attacker, that made it a "miss"?

I don't know, but I've been hyperaware of traffic lately, and my head is encased in Shoei and my body in Tourmaster. (And for more on motorisks, see Chandler's post from last September.)

Hot Honda on Duck action courtesy PhillC.


Chandler said...

You'll have to come ride Lakeview/Wrigleyville here in Chicago with me some time. I lived Austin traffic for seven years and it's got nothing on what I encounter around here on a daily basis, especially now that it's baseball season again (I'm only a couple of blocks from Wrigely Field).

I've lost count of the number of near-misses I've had due to some combination of (usually suburban) idiot driving while lost, drunk, on his/her cell phone, distracted by 5 friends in the car, going the wrong way on a one-way and thus not realizing they're effectively running a stop sign, or otherwise generally not aware that they're operating a motor vehicle in the real world, rather than going on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in the urban-themed section of Disneyland.

Of course, the one advantage I may have over you on I-35 (I'm guessing from the truck reference, although that also sounds like MoPac or Ben White or any other supposed highway in Austin) is that the idiot who finally gets me will probably only be going 20 mph.

Dutcher Stiles said...

I used to blame my poor track performance on the fact I was waiting for a car to pull in front of me. (In fact, I believe I was just a dog-slow mullet.)
In fact, I'll be getting a flavor for Chicago traffic in a couple weeks, after my wife & I watch the professional riders up at Elkhart Lake.