Habits never die; they just change
We all have habits; some good and some not so good. For example, I have a habit of biting my finger nails while I’m watching a close game during a sporting event. I know other people who have a habit of saying certain phrases all the time, like “you know what I mean” or “like”. What about good habits; do we have any of those? This is highly important, especially while driving.
I was recently speaking with a friend of mine who used to be a driving instructor with me at Young Drivers of Canada. He had left Young Drivers back in 1995, but we still kept in contact from time to time. He called me to let me know how he escaped a rear crash. He used the habits he had taught new drivers for eight years.
We’ve always taught our students to check the mirror before slowing and to leave plenty of space for an escape in case the driver behind wasn’t stopping in time. My friend recently did that at an intersection and was hoping the driver approaching from behind him was going to stop, as most people do. But at some point he thought he better hit the gas. Good thing he did because had he not done so, a crash with severe damage and perhaps personal injury would have happened.
The result of my friend hitting the gas to get out of the way was a slight mark on his rear bumper that a cloth erased. I was pleased to know he had kept the habit to avoid rear crashes. I’m sure if I went out in the car with him again, he would have other good driving habits to show me.
Here’s the thing though; if you stop using a habit, it changes. Habits never go away completely; they just change. Drivers get lazy from time to time and the good habits change into bad habits. If you’re dropping your guard, you’ll stop checking your mirror as often as you did once before. You may be holding the steering wheel too low, stare straight ahead and not look for potential risks while driving and you’ll probably trust all of the other drivers around you to do the proper thing so you won’t crash into them. These are not good driving habits, although many drivers have these when they’re behind the wheel.
So, which habits do you want to have while driving? Whichever ones you decide to use, keep using them so they won’t get rusty.