Will it haunt you or save you?
I often get asked by the new students I train at Young Drivers of Canada if I drive the way I teach. The quick answer is yes. For the almost 24 years that I’ve been an instructor compared to the over 30 years I’ve driven, I honestly can’t remember much of my driving life before I came to Young Drivers of Canada. Based on what happened the other day I was very glad I practiced what I preached.
I was sitting at a T-intersection at a red light, waiting for the light to change. Traffic was stopped behind me and I was first in line. When the traffic light changed to green, I checked to the left, centre and right before proceeding. That’s something we teach all of our students to do when they’re learning to drive. I personally try to nag them enough that they’ll eventually do it without my coaching. I’m glad I did do that scan the other day because to my right was a driver blowing through their red light. What would the damage to my car or my body be like if I shrugged it off and just went because the light was green? Would I even make it out of the vehicle on my own?
Considering that most crashes occur at intersections, why would I trust that the fact that just because my light was green that it would be safe to proceed? What do you do before you walk across the street, even though the walk symbol is saying “walk”? You check to see if the cars have all stopped don’t you? Why not do that as a driver? Remember, red lights don’t stop cars; drivers stop cars.
However, you would never have known someone was running a red light if you don’t check the intersection before applying the gas. Now, the driver who blew through the light realized he did just that and stopped his vehicle – on the opposite side of the intersection – and then he backed up and stopped close to where he should have stopped. Strange. Did he feel bad or did he think that if he stopped and then backed up it would be ok? Whatever his reasons were, he did just that; he backed up to where he should have stopped and then waved me to continue through the intersection. How nice of him.
The good news was that I had barely moved. By checking the intersection before moving, I haven’t risked my safety from the vehicles behind me. Why look to see if it’s clear while you’re going? That’s the same as stepping onto the road and then looking to see if any vehicles were coming. Why bother?
As I continued along the road, the driver who tried to smash my car into a paperweight ended up being behind me, but in the next lane. Regardless of what my speed was, he never passed me. Was he embarrassed? Who knows, but it just may be possible that he learned something; to always pay attention when you’re driving. It could save a life of someone you may actually know.
So there you have it; practice what you preach. You never know when it may come back to haunt you…or save your life.