I’ve been doing a lot of reading about decision making recently in an effort to figure out why people do the things they do. Now this is obviously a daunting task and I don’t expect to find a definitive answer. Much smarter people have been trying to figure this out since Plato.
The death of five people in Detroit is a prime example of why I am curious about the subject. A young man, 19-years-old, was driving a Ford Fusion when he came to a railroad crossing. The warning signals were going off and a sports utility vehicle was stopped in front of him.
Despite all these warning signs, the man swerved around the white SUV, attempted to cross the tracks was was struck by the train, killing himself and the four other people in his car. So far, there is no indication of drugs or alcohol, but obviously his judgment was impaired by something.
Had he faced a similar situation and escaped without harm? If so, then that model would be imprinted in his memory and maybe he was just following the pattern of success. Maybe he had somewhere important to be and weighed his options and thought the risk would be worth the reward. We don’t know, and I doubt we ever will. But just by examining what could have been going on in his head, I think we can learn from the tragedy and avoid a similar situation ourselves.
Video of the incident can be seen here.