What’s your goal as a driver?
I witness a lot of different driving behaviour. For the 21 years that I’ve been a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada, I often wonder why people drive the way they do, especially with expensive vehicles. They often put themselves in high risk scenarios without blinking an eye. Are you a risk taker, or do you avoid risk?
My goal as a driver is to reach my destination safely and, when possible, on time. I also have a goal of avoiding crashes for the rest of my life. That’s my long term goal. I think those are far better than the short term goals. Life is long term, so let’s use that as our model. The part that’s tricky is what you’re going to do to help you reach your long term goal. Saying you want to stay out of collisions is one thing, but doing something about it is another. The same can be said for your financial future. Saying you want to retire with enough money to live comfortably, but not doing something about it doesn’t make sense; or cents. Driving with a long term goal can also make cents.
Safety should be the goal of every driver out there. We get wrapped up with our trips that we often take chances when we drive. Part of the problem is we don’t often think we’re taking chances until someone else shows us, or until we crash. But that’s too late isn’t it? Start by planning your trip, even to work. Decide which route is the safest, not just the quickest.
The most dangerous thing we do as a driver is a left turn at traffic lights. All across North America, intersections are the most common place for crashes. If this is so dangerous, why do drivers cut off other drivers, making them brake, when they’re turning left at lights? Why not wait until there’s enough space to do this safely? Usually, the driver who cuts off another driver saves just a few seconds. In real time, it’s just not worth it.
What about your current driving mood? Are you happy or annoyed when you drive? Keeping a clear mind is important to drive safely. We often see in the movies or on TV how drivers get angry and get into their vehicle and drive away. Not a good move there! Staying calm and thinking clearly will help you reach your goal as a driver, provided your goal is to stay crash free.
Do you ever think “what if?” when you drive? What if the driver beside you swerves toward you suddenly? What if that young child steps off the curb at the last second? Are you in position to avoid these and stay collision free? One of the concepts of staying crash free is keeping space around your vehicle while driving. People can’t hit your vehicle if they aren’t near you, right? It’s like a big game of “tag” and you don’t want to be “it”. Always think where your escape route is every time you drive. If you’re planning ahead, you’ll be ready for these situations.
Remember how proud you were about your car when you first got it? It looked nice and clean. Remember how you liked it when you cleaned it and looked after it? If that’s the case, why park it in places that allow other drivers to damage it? I was recently in the parking lot of my local grocery store. I watched how drivers parked close to the vehicle next to them. What if the driver opened their car door and put a dent on your door? I’m sure that would annoy you to no end. It would annoy me; and it has in the past.
You should park in an area of the parking lot that can protect your investment. If you park in the centre of your parking space so other vehicles have less chance to dent your door when they open their door, it can also save you some stress. Avoid parking opposite the entrance of the lot. Since that’s where most drivers gather from, you have a higher chance of drivers sliding into your vehicle. Also, avoid parking at the end of the row of parked vehicles. This is where drivers cut corners and may drive toward your vehicle.
While being in the parking lot the other day, I also watched how a driver backed out of their parking space. I know that doesn’t seem unusual, but the space directly in front of them was empty. They could have driven through the space and avoided backing up altogether. Backing up leads to many parking lot crashes. If you think about it, you need roughly two thirds of your vehicle to back out before you can see past a larger vehicle. Driving out forwards can improve your visibility and makes exiting your space much easier.
Before you head out on your next drive, think what your long term goals are as a driver and what you’re going to do to reach these goals. Use logic each time, oh, and don’t forget about common sense!