This week’s free Constitutional Vanguard newsletter is up, and it addresses the shooting of Adam Toledo in Chicago.
[W]e are talking barely over .8 seconds total.
Try this experiment: grab a phone and open a stopwatch app. Hit “start” and think to yourself — as fast as you possibly can, but without speaking out loud — the words “oh shit he’s got a gun I’d better fire” . . . and then stop the stopwatch. Do it several times. When I did it, I tended to get between .75 seconds and around a second or so. Racing my mind as fast as I can, I can’t even think those words much faster than 839 milliseconds.
The people opining about this on Twitter appear to have absolutely no concept of a thing often called “perception-reaction time”: the time between perceiving a need for action and the time it takes to take the action. I’m not an expert on this topic, which comes up a lot in auto accident reconstruction cases, and Web research does not reveal any completely consistent standard length of time between perceptions and reactions. Unsurprisingly, perception-reaction time can depend on a number of factors, like whether the event is expected, distractions, visibility, cognitive impairment, and the like. This discussion, which seems to be but one of many available, seems to suggest a widespread consensus that the average time between perception and reaction is slightly over a second, but it can certainly be quicker or longer than that. The point is: it’s not instantaneous. There’s a reason you’re advised to leave a fair amount of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you on the freeway; namely, it will take you a certain amount of time to perceive that the car in front of you is slowing or has illuminated its brake lights. Then you will have to react to that perception and hit the brake with your foot. All of this takes time.