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nitepilot79
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Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:34 pm

I realize that this is probably a silly question, but do pilots (on average) have better car driving skills than non-pilots? Aircraft to car is one HELL of a step down in terms of skills required for operation, so does it stand to reason that pilots, on average, are better drivers? It would be interesting to conduct a study.
 
lewis
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:07 pm

From the pilots I know and their driving/accident history, I would have to say no correlation at all. I know very good pilots who don't really have a good accident history with cars.
 
evomutant
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:11 pm

The standard of parking on display from my colleagues at work would suggest otherwise... 
 
Rara
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 10:33 pm

I've driven with pilots a lot, and I can't say I've noticed any correlation.

Though there are some peculiarities. Usually they have a pretty good sense of direction, in particular with the cardinal directions. They seem to have a penchant for car manuals. Also they communicate more than other drivers, stating their intentions and requesting feedback.

Once I got in the car with a friend of mine who's a pilot. He started driving, on an empty town road. Suddenly he hit the brakes, with no obstacle to be seen. To my inquiring look, he simply said "brake check".
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Okie
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:14 pm

Every work day for many a year I spent time driving down the same road that ended at the FAA center in OKC.

Each day I would arrive at work wondering about the abilities of many a driver that was headed to the center. Since the FAA seems to do a pretty good job then I would say no correlation as far as traffic control is concerned.

Okie
 
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Tugger
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 04, 2013 11:23 pm

The only thing I can reference is the fact that my pilot friend is very careful regarding anything that can affect his career. So driving after drinking is something he is very careful about (as in make sure a driver is available if needed or don't drink, etc.). I don't know what else driving-wise can affect a pilots license and career but I saw in another thread a comment that certain speeding tickets might also be an issue.

So I don't think necessarily they are "better" drivers but I do think they can have more on the line per se and so may be more aware of that and more careful in some aspects of driving.

Tugg

[Edited 2013-09-04 17:14:34]
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:59 am

I think in some people the sheer precision required for flying crosses over to driving. After you have flown a plane over 300knts somehow driving a auto seems insignificant. But as we say in the aviation field, safety first! I haven't had any tickets since 1983 and the one before that was in 1972.
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AzoresLover
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:42 am

I had a buddy in the Air Force who was a C-141 pilot, and a very safe driver. He always did one thing that amused me when driving his car...he had a Camaro with automatic on the floor, with gears D, 2, and 1. As we'd be approaching a stop sign or red traffic light, he would yell "FLAPS!" and drop into 2nd...then as we neared a stop he'd yell "Spoilers!" and drop into 1st and come to a stop. He always described his driving as "flying" his car!
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a321luke
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:49 am

Interesting question. I wonder if they refer to roads and side-streets as runways and taxiways?

Also, do pilots tend to drive faster than non-pilots?

I don't think so.  
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Superfly
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:16 am

Quoting Rara (Reply 4):
Usually they have a pretty good sense of direction, in particular with the cardinal directions.

That's been my observation as well. I'd say pilots are better drivers. Not just commercial pilots. Those that fly their own private plane tend to be good drivers.

Quoting nitepilot79 (Thread starter):
Aircraft to car is one HELL of a step down in terms of skills required for operation

Those two skills were combined in to one car-plane that almost hit the market.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzv4q5EEy1k

Pilots certainly have great taste in cars.





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offloaded
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:25 am

I had a pilot as a neighbour a while. He had a tennis ball on a string hung from the ceiling in his garage which he used to line up and use to park.
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:50 pm

Quoting offloaded (Reply 11):
I had a pilot as a neighbour a while. He had a tennis ball on a string hung from the ceiling in his garage which he used to line up and use to park.

When I was a kid my neighbor was at pilot at Hughes Air West (he eventually retired from NW) and he had the same thing. I used to a have a 72 Cadillac and it just barely fit in my garage so I used his old tennis ball thing. When the ball got to the center of the windshield I would stop the car. It worked like a charm.
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Aesma
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:10 pm

What is the European car being compared ?

I'd say the most important thing for good driving is being aware of what's going on around you, something a lot of people are very bad at, and also necessary while flying, so pilots should be better at this.
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Tugger
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:54 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 13):
What is the European car being compared ?

I think it was reference to Airbus, but we all know those pilots couldn't be better drivers as they just yank their joystick all day...  

Now maybe they are better at video games....      

Tugg
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jetblueguy22
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:09 pm

Quoting evomutant (Reply 3):
The standard of parking on display from my colleagues at work would suggest otherwise... 

Completely agree. Parking at the airport by my school's flight operations is a joke. You'd think all those commercial pilots could park!

Quoting tugger (Reply 6):
The only thing I can reference is the fact that my pilot friend is very careful regarding anything that can affect his career.

I find that to be common with all of my pilot friends. One sip of beer and they are having someone else drive home. Is it extreme? Yeah probably. But it's better than getting in trouble with the law.

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 8):
As we'd be approaching a stop sign or red traffic light, he would yell "FLAPS!" and drop into 2nd...then as we neared a stop he'd yell "Spoilers!" and drop into 1st and come to a stop.

   I may have to steal that!

Quoting a321luke (Reply 9):
Also, do pilots tend to drive faster than non-pilots?

From my experience they tend to drive just a tad faster. Which surprises me when you have airspeeds you are supposed to hit. There is a stretch of highway from the airport to the University by my school. Cops sit there all the time. You'd be shocked at how many pilots they grab on the way back to campus. Whenever my CFI and I would come back to the airport from the east he would look for cops sitting catching speeders so he wouldn't get a ticket on the way home!

I don't think there is a direct correlation. I know pilots I'm terrified to get into a vehicle with. But on the other side I know some who are the safest drivers on the road. I think it does help you're driving because you are wired to scan more and be alert of your surroundings. I have a couple habits I've taken over from flying. When I got my drivers license I had 35 hours in an airplane. I used two feet when driving, one for the brake and one for the throttle. The driving examiner didn't like that. I also tend to have one hand on the steering wheel and one on the gear shift the whole time even though I drive an automatic. It's just a habit.
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cptkrell
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:21 am

Hmmm...If I used myself as an example, I can only say I've never crashed an airplane. As for cars...it's getting late and I don't feel like counting. all best...jack
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:38 am

A friend of my dads was the # 3 pilot in seniority at Trans Caribbean and was merged into American Airlines and he retired I think in 1985 my dad said he was the worst driver and could not even drive a stick shift.

[Edited 2013-09-05 21:40:18]
 
Superfly
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:02 am

Quoting Aesma (Reply 12):
What is the European car being compared ?

That is a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow they're comparing to. You can see it in the first caption to the left.

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 14):
Is it extreme? Yeah probably. But it's better than getting in trouble with the law.

Even worse, losing the best job in the world.
I would be the same way if I was a commercial pilot.

Quoting stratosphere (Reply 16):
A friend of my dads was the # 3 pilot in seniority at Trans Caribbean

I have a 1:500 scale DC-8 of that airline.
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KLMD11L
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:10 pm

Judging by the way they keep the nose gear exactly on the yellow line while taxiing, I'd say they're better than average drivers.



Quoting type-rated (Reply 6):
I think in some people the sheer precision required for flying crosses over to driving. After you have flown a plane over 300knts somehow driving a auto seems insignificant.

  
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jetblueguy22
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:45 am

Quoting klmd11l (Reply 18):
Judging by the way they keep the nose gear exactly on the yellow line while taxiing, I'd say they're better than average drivers.

I can't speak for commercial airliners, but in the general aviation world it is a lot tougher to follow that line than in a car. Sure you get it down. But she doesn't always want to go straight!
Pat
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PPVRA
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:23 am

They would probably tell you they can cross-check the speedometer and the fuel gauge faster than you can blink, then eyes back on the road  
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B777LRF
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:04 am

Quoting klmd11l (Reply 18):
Judging by the way they keep the nose gear exactly on the yellow line while taxiing, I'd say they're better than average drivers.

Except, we don't. Keeping the nose-wheel right on the centre-line will mean you get a rather uncomfortable ride from driving over all the imbedded lights. Captains tend to taxi slightly to the left of centre, Effo's slightly to the right.
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bristolflyer
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:03 pm

Quoting type-rated (Reply 6):
After you have flown a plane over 300knts somehow driving a auto seems insignificant.

Therein lies the problem...if you're all psyched up to fly the plane, you finish the flight then get in your car then you probably aren't concentrating as much as you could. There's some statistic that says something like 80% of car crashes happen very close to home - people start to relax and take things for granted when they're nearing home.

So my conjecture is that whilst pilots are probably better drivers due to their inherent abilities I would say they're probably more accident prone because they're often so exhausted (physically and mentally) from flying.
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sat Sep 07, 2013 6:26 pm

  Based on the totally irrelevant empirical evidence of a single example, no!
A colleague from my airforce days of long ago who went on to become a QFI (qualified flying instructor) took his driving test seven times over an almost 3 year period and flunked them all. (Most us non-pilots averaged 2.5 times within six months to get a licence) He finally gave up and only rode a bike.
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Superfly
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:48 am

Quoting neutrino (Reply 23):
A colleague from my airforce days of long ago who went on to become a QFI (qualified flying instructor) took his driving test seven times over an almost 3 year period and flunked them all.

Written or driving? I remember my written test and too many of the questions dealt with blood alcohol levels. He probably could have been a great driver, just that he probably breaks the rules a bit.  
Those test do not tell the whole story.
Here is an example of a great driver but would probably fail a proper driver's test.
Although he isn't a pilot and do not condone what this man did, I must say this is incredible that he pulled this off without killing anyone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQiPAyCVyWM
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:08 am

I'm "only" a private pilot, but I have asked myself this very same question lately.

I'm definitely very bad at parking (and this seems to be consistent with what others have said in this thread). But as far as "normal" driving is concerned, I've noticed that I always want to be way "ahead of the car" (just like I'd do in a plane). I always keep plenty of safety distance from the car in front of me (while most of my friends tend to stick to the bumper in front) and I tend to foresee dangerous situations that may arise. Depending on how a certain car is driving, I can tell if it will switch lanes without using the turn signals and without watching, and I'm usually right.

In other words, I always drive subconsciously asking myself the equivalent of "where would the nearest field be in case my engine quits?", but translated into what happens on the road. "What happens if there's an accident in front of me? Can I stop or avoid them in time?" etc.

I'm not sure if this has to do with the fact that I'm also a pilot, but I like to believe so  
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NWADC9
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:26 am

Quoting a321luke (Reply 8):
I wonder if they refer to roads and side-streets as runways and taxiways?

Highways are victor airways; side streets are SIDs/STARs  
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 7:50 pm

Quoting bristolflyer (Reply 22):
Therein lies the problem...if you're all psyched up to fly the plane, you finish the flight then get in your car then you probably aren't concentrating as much as you could.

Nope, when I drive I use the same concentration I used to fly the aircraft. Not having any accidents/tickets at all in 31 years proves that. But your statement does hold true for people who drive on long trips. Most accidents occur within 50 miles of your home.
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sccutler
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Sun Sep 08, 2013 9:42 pm

I like to think I am a reasonably good pilot, and I am told by colleagues and check airmen that my skills are good, my judgment sound.

My mechanical skills when driving are excellent - I understand vehicle dynamics and handle the car well; but I have little patience for the staggering degree of incompetence and downright rudeness shown these days among the driving public, and that frustration sometimes shows in my driving (irony there, isn't there?).

So, no, the correlation is not automatic.
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tb727
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 2:36 am

Quoting NWADC9 (Reply 26):
Highways are victor airways; side streets are SIDs/STARs

My dad has always referred to shopping malls as "VOR's for women" since my mom always gave directions by where something was in relation to a store or mall!
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:30 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 24):
Written or driving?

He passed his written test on his first attempt...with flying (pun) colors.
He just could not understand why all the various testers failed to endorse him on the actual driving. In his own words when he decided to give up on further attempts after the seventh; "I could handle a high-performance fighter jet like nobody business and yet seems to be unable to pass my driving tests. What's wrong with all the testers?"
And sadly, he passed away a few years later when his student crashed the trainer plane they were on.
A good man. We enjoyed his numerous high speed low level passes over the runway till the base commander put a stop to his unauthorized showmanship following the nearby residents' complaints.
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twal1011727
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 11:50 am

Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 7):
He always did one thing that amused me when driving his car...
Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 7):
he had a Camaro with automatic on the floor,

He obviously didn't care about the life of the automatic transmission.
Manually downshifting an auto trans increases the internal pressures and adds unnecessary loads on it.

I would much rather use my "normal wear item" brakes to slow the car down than the $2500.00 transmission.

KD
 
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Luxair
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 5:32 pm

I can't speak in general but a good friend ( Hello Roger  ) of mine who is a senior Captain at a well known dutch airline is an excellent Pilot however the moment this guy grabs the steeringwheel of a car he becomes a public danger, i can tell you all about   so to resume...i have my serious doubts about pilots beeing the better drivers hehehe
 
KLMD11L
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:02 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 21):
Except, we don't. Keeping the nose-wheel right on the centre-line will mean you get a rather uncomfortable ride from driving over all the imbedded lights. Captains tend to taxi slightly to the left of centre, Effo's slightly to the right.

Not all of you, I've seen dozens of planes taxiing on the center-line.
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sturmovik
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 7:45 am

Quoting tb727 (Reply 29):
My dad has always referred to shopping malls as "VOR's for women"

That one made me laugh, sitting at work. Gotta remember this..  
Quoting AzoresLover (Reply 7):
I had a buddy in the Air Force who was a C-141 pilot, and a very safe driver. He always did one thing that amused me when driving his car...he had a Camaro with automatic on the floor, with gears D, 2, and 1. As we'd be approaching a stop sign or red traffic light, he would yell "FLAPS!" and drop into 2nd...then as we neared a stop he'd yell "Spoilers!"

When faced with a yellow light, does he slam the throttle and call V1 as well? 
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:41 pm

Define "better." I'm sure, on average, pilots have better hand eye coordination than the rest of the population as a whole so may be better in that respect, but there is more to driving than just that. You could be the most skilled driver out there but if you don't exercise good judgment and if you take unnecessary risks, your better skill may result in more accidents.

Maybe a bit of an extreme example, but compare airshow pilots with student solo pilots. The former is obviously better at flying but due to the situations they put themselves in, they may end up being more at risk of dying.

I'm not saying pilots driving around are reckless, I'm just saying there is more than one factor that goes into this "better" equation
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TWA772LR
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:13 am

Me and my dad were driving to work the other day and almost got t-boned by a pilots girlfriend driving him to the airport. I don't know why he wasn't driving, so his license may be suspended or maybe didn't feel like driving. Either way, she nearly hit us so she couldn't drive! 
Quoting tugger (Reply 13):

     
Not every day we find light winds. What do we do in these situations? Fly.
 
YYZatcboy
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RE: Are Pilots Better Drivers Than Non-Pilots?

Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:41 am

Quoting type-rated (Reply 27):
Most accidents occur within 50 miles of your home.

This is a meaningless statistic. As a percentage of total driving time most people drive to work and shopping/visiting locals. So yeah most accidents occur within 50 miles but it has nothing to do with complacency, it's just that is where most people drive most of the time. I can count on two hands the amount of times I have driven even 50km from my home in the last two years.

It's like saying that most airplane accidents occur while the plane is moving... it's totally meaningless!
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