Is it wrong or only different?
Every now and then I get a chance to go out without my wife and kids. Part of my job is traveling across Canada training and re-training instructors for Young Drivers of Canada, but those days are often long and tiring. When I get a chance to socialize with friends, I’ll take them up on it when I can. Of course, I also offer to do the driving. It’s my passion and has nothing to do with not trusting my friends’ driving.
I had the pleasure of going out recently and offered to drive to our destination. I picked up my neighbour for a night of friendly poker and off we went. This was the first time my neighbour was in my vehicle and he liked the additional brake I have on the passenger side. It helps me maintain control with student drivers in my vehicle. He also commented on some of my driving techniques.
One of the big problems in North America is the rear crash. It’s the most common type of collision that’s reported and most people ignore this risk. Have you ever thought about if the driver approaching from behind you is slowing down enough to stop safely? I do and we teach our students at Young Drivers of Canada to do the same. My neighbour wasn’t sure what I was doing though.
Part of the process to avoid rear crashes is looking well ahead to notice red lights or stopped traffic. The next step is one that I know a lot of people do; slowing early when approaching a red light hoping that it turns to green before they get there. One of the benefits is that it saves fuel. The other benefit is it can help you avoid a rear crash. We can relate this to riding a bicycle. It’s much easier to start pedaling if the bike is already in motion. If you’re at a stand still, it’s more difficult to get moving again. Transport drivers tend to do the same thing. As a driver, if we can keep our vehicle moving, it’s much easier, and quicker to get out of the way from the driver behind. Think about it.
The next part is where my neighbour was a little confused. I was slowing early to help avoid stopping at a red light. There was no one behind me yet. The problem here is if I get right up to the intersection, I’ll have no escape route from a rear crash. For this reason, I left three vehicle lengths of space in front of me. This gave me room ahead and to the right to avoid the driver from behind. I know this sounds unusual, but the reality is this; if there is no one behind me, am I bothering anyone? Of course not, and I’m not secure from a rear crash because the driver approaching from behind hasn’t arrived and stopped yet.
As drivers, we tend to brake towards brake lights. We time our braking to stop at the driver’s bumper. What if you needed more time to stop because of slippery roads? The driver in front of you is now a sitting duck, unless they’ve been trained to avoid rear crashes. When I was out with my neighbour, I started to creep my vehicle forward as the driver behind was slowing down. This helps to control where they were stopping and the motion I was doing with my vehicle helped me escape quicker if needed.
The situation left me with two vehicle lengths of space in front in case the next driver approaching from behind wasn’t able to stop in time. I kept monitoring my mirror for more drivers approaching and glancing ahead for the lights to change back to green. All went well and when the lights changed, we continued along our journey. My neighbour seemed okay with what I was doing, just like everyone else I’ve shown this to.
A lot of drivers worry what others will think about driving if its a way that isn’t as common as what other drivers do. I’m not worried about that and most of my students feel the same way as I do. I’m concerned about my passengers and myself from being injured in a rear crash. These techniques help us survive on our busy roads. Why add to the national statistics of rear crashes if you can learn to avoid them?
One day I’ll show my neighbour again. He has two kids and I’m sure he’ll appreciate it if he can save them from injury. Remember, what appears to be wrong is only different. Being different isn’t always a bad thing; it can also be a safe thing.