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  Speed Psychology
> Wait and See
  Who Is Passing Whom?

Wait and See

I'm not quite sure how to explain this concept in general, so let me start with the one good example I have. Suppose that you, the driver of car A, are driving on a four-lane divided highway. You're slowly catching up to car B, but are also slowly being approached by car C, and aren't sure who will catch whom first. You're in the left lane. Should you change lanes and let C pass?

(You should think of the distances between cars as being larger than shown in the figure, because otherwise you'd be too close to B to change lanes.)

My advice in this situation is “wait and see”. Since you really aren't sure who will catch whom first, any action is counterproductive, and will just confuse the other drivers.

I like to think of it mathematically. If there are equal odds as to who will catch whom first, then there are equal odds that you will or won't need to change lanes, and the expected number of lane changes is 1/2. If you change lanes before you know what's going to happen, all you're doing is increasing the expected number of lane changes from 1/2 to 1 1/2.

I believe this “wait and see” concept is really a very general principle, something like the following.

If you're not sure how a given situation will play out, don't waste your time thrashing around.

The principle (or virtue) of patience is closely related, but not quite the same. To me, patience is when you know how a given situation will play out, and the way it will play out requires you to wait.

There's another related principle, known as yosu-miru, that I learned in connection with the game of go. Here's an explanation from a book I have.

When making a yosu-miru move, one maintains his own flexibility and options but forces his opponent to settle on a particular shape before he is ready to, thereby reducing his options.

How could yosu-miru be applied to the example given above? Well, first of all, it is important to realize that the opponent is not the other driver(s) individually, but rather is the entire traffic flow, or entire environment. In fact, in the analysis of probabilistic games, it is convenient to pretend that the randomness is really the intentional action of an opponent referred to as “nature”, and the same kind of thought is appropriate here.

With that in mind, a yosu-miru action would be one that provokes nature into revealing who will pass whom first. I'm not sure what kind of action that would be, or even whether there is such an action in this case, but it is worth thinking about.

There are definitely times when yosu-miru can be applied to driving. For example, when someone is driving next to me and neither passing nor slowing down, I like to vary my speed a little, at random, in order to provoke them into action.


  See Also

  Entrance Ramps
  Preserving Options
  Via Lane Change

@ May (2000)