What does breaking rules get you?
One of my sons plays house league hockey and he seems to really enjoy it. He’s not going to be playing in the NHL any time soon, but he’s having fun. Part of his enjoyment is his ability to follow the rules of the game, which gives him opportunities to score goals, help his team score goals and stay out of the penalty box. If he didn’t play by the rules, he’ll be hurting his team as they would play with one less player on the ice during his penalty. He’s become a good team player. Does driving cooperatively in traffic also make you a good team player?
There was a game recently where a player on the opposing team was playing too physical and was getting penalties. The final act of aggression saw him hit a player from behind. In house league hockey there is NO contact and there is never any hitting from behind. This caused that player to not only be penalized, but he received a 3 game suspension. A penalty well deserved in many minds. Do you know a driver who acts the same way behind the steering wheel? They’re too aggressive and often get tickets?
I had a driver tailgate me the other morning as I was heading off to work. It was obvious to me they were late getting to their destination. I watched them pass by me and cut off other drivers as they swerved in and out of traffic. I also watched them run through red lights… twice. The interesting thing was they still stayed close to me while in traffic. The first red light they ran only got them to the next red light, which they had to stop at just before I got there. A few minutes later they sped up to another traffic light and ran that red light as well, only to reach another red light. All these rules they were breaking didn’t allow them to get anywhere sooner, so why bother? Maybe they are just so used to breaking rules in other parts of their life that that’s all they know how to do.
I once took out a licensed driver for a driver improvement program from Young Drivers of Canada who was told by the government to take our program or else they would have their driver’s license suspended. This driver didn’t feel it was necessary to stop at stop signs if there were no other vehicles in sight. He also drove the wrong way on a one way street so he could save time. Speeding was also one of his favourite things to do to help save time. His attitude got him into trouble on many occasions. Did he want to act this way? Was there anything that I could do as a driving instructor to change his way of thinking?
The short time I was with him gave me a very small window of opportunity to change his behaviour. The only thing I could do was to get him to think of the repercussions of his actions. I got him to think of the long term. I got him to tell me about how he would like to spend his money for life enjoyments. I asked him if he had to pay for traffic fines and higher insurance costs would those enjoyments have to stop. He agreed they would. I asked him if he crashed into someone because of his attitude how he would feel for the rest of his life, especially if he severely injured or killed someone. I also asked him how his family would cope if he lost his license, his job, his home all because of his attitude about breaking rules.
For the remaining time we spent in the vehicle he did anything I asked. I tricked him. I didn’t TELL him to do anything different; I SOLD him on the benefits of changing his ways. You’re more likely to do what you believe in, not what you’re told. I hope the emotional and logical thoughts that went through his head stayed with him over these years. I also hope he changed his way of driving because there wasn’t anything positive that he could gain from it. I also hope the young man from house league hockey learned he can’t play by his own rules all the time, especially before he gets his driver’s license.