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Form vs. Function
Going through the motions

By: James R. Davis

An interesting observation made by Cash today was about how, over time, form follows function (from an evolutionary point of view.) As a result, ask any biology student and you will learn that you can tell with high confidence just what things an animal (indeed, any organism) can do based on the form taken by their bodies. It was earlier 'determined' that certain function led to more likely survival and form evolved to permit or enhance that functionality.

But form is NOT the same as function. And form follows function - it is function that counts.

We all know that doing a 'head check' is important before making a change of lanes or entering an intersection. We usually do just that. But just how often have you found that the head check was really just going through the motions?

I remember quite well several occasions where I have done my head check then began to make my move only to suddenly wake up to the fact that I saw something during that check that was dangerous. I mean, I saw, but began my move before it registered what it was that I saw. My 'form' was perfect, but I was NOT functioning well. I was either distracted or so sure that it was clear because of a recent 'focused' check in the same direction that I didn't expect to find anything with that head check, and when there was something found, unexpectedly, I had already begun to make my move. Now that's dangerous!

So, we're not perfect. We do our 'best' most of the time. We know what we should do and most of us conscientiously try to do those things that tend to keep us out of trouble. But form is not function.

When we do a head check, for example, it is not merely to turn our heads so that our eyes CAN see danger, but we do them so that we WILL see danger if it's there. That means we must not allow ourselves to be lulled into believing all is right with the world just because it's supposed to be that way.

Expectations of 'rightness' dull our abilities to SEE what is not right - at the very least, it slows down our ability to react to what is not right.

Form is not enough - function counts, form does not. And if you function properly you are more likely to survive!

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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