q New Year’s Resolution: Drive Smarter

New Year’s Resolution: Drive Smarter

For many people, the beginning of a year often means a chance to start anew, to improve a longstanding issue of some sort. Getting in shape and shedding extra pounds are the most common resolutions, but some people decide they need to save more money, quit smoking, reduce stress, or get a more fulfilling job. […]

New Year’s Resolution: Drive Smarter

For many people, the beginning of a year often means a chance to start anew, to improve a longstanding issue of some sort. Getting in shape and shedding extra pounds are the most common resolutions, but some people decide they need to save more money, quit smoking, reduce stress, or get a more fulfilling job.

How about drive smarter?

Consider this: Driving is an activity that many of us do almost every day. And like everything that we do almost every day, we do it so much that we don’t think about how we do it anymore (unless someone cuts us off or we have a close call). But unlike brushing your teeth or answering email, the consequences of not driving well can be annoying, dangerous, or deadly.

Driving well means driving smarter. It means being careful, looking far ahead, anticipating and planning, and sharing well with others. It means being aware, paying attention, and staying focused. It means driving smoothly and steadily even through the most challenging conditions. It means knowing how to use technology to help you travel efficiently and safely—and when to ignore it.

Most of us think we drive really well. According to cognitive research studies, exactly 80 percent of us, in fact, believe we are above-average drivers. And 999 times we drive somewhere, we don’t get into a crash, or even close to it. So we’re good drivers, right?

But when was the last time you were out driving and something took you by surprise? A pedestrian stepping out from behind a parked car? A motorcycle in your blind spot? A vehicle that was entering the same lane you were changing to on the highway? An invisible patch of ice on an onramp? A red stoplight on a busy downtown street that wasn’t visible until you were already in the intersection? Another vehicle tailgating you?

If you were surprised or startled by any of these, it means there’s room for improvement. Over 90 percent of vehicular crashes are completely avoidable. An “accident” should mean a freak happening, such as a tree falling down on your car during a windstorm. Everything else is irrelevant—and preventable.

Driving smarter also means being completely honest with yourself about your abilities, personality, intent, and execution. Most of us aren’t.

The rewards of driving smarter are huge. Safety is the obvious benefit; no one wants to be in a crash or risk being injured or killed. Or worse yet, do that to someone else. But aside from that, driving smarter means you’ll be less frustrated and scared by traffic and others around you. That means you’ll be less stressed, and you’ll likely even save some time, because you know how to drive more efficiently. And when you drive smarter to your destination, you’ll have that secret inner satisfaction of having executed a job well-done in a hazardous world.

It’s not just for behind the wheel, either. The mental and physical skills to drive smarter directly improve just about everything else you do—looking far ahead, being aware of what’s going on around you, and focusing not on the mistake that just happened, but how to avoid repeating it in the future.

So try it—take a refresher course from a good driving school, join an auto club that offers car control clinics, research the Web for driving techniques (including this blog), or get one-on-one training with a professional driving instructor. Or take a single bad driving habit you have, and work deliberately on replacing it with a better one.

Driving well, really well, takes practice. Lots of it. But most of us drive everyday. What a great opportunity to get better throughout the year.

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Mi Ae Lipe

Mi Ae Lipe is a citizen advocate living near Seattle, Washington. She blogs on Driving in the Real World, Tweets daily driving news and tips at @DrivingReal, and writes a regular column on street driving for BMW CCA’s Roundel magazine. She frequently collaborates with government organizations, NGOs, and individuals. She and fellow citizen Mark Butcher are recipients of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 2017 Award for Public Service for their work in

Comments:

  1. Good driving is also a good quality . There are many Stunt Driving Schools are available. To learn driving is very important for be a good driver. In Stunt Driving School people learn about good rules and regulation related of driving. In this type of driving schools also provides Intensive Driving Lessons which is very typical. We should drive care fully for our safety and traffic safety. I also like driving.

  2. Good driving is also a good quality . There are many Stunt Driving Schools are available. To learn driving is very important for be a good driver. In Stunt Driving School people learn about good rules and regulation related of driving. In this type of driving schools also provides Intensive Driving Lessons which is very typical. We should drive care fully for our safety and traffic safety. I also like driving.

  3. Great remarks about using surprises as a measure of ability.

    A few of my (brief) thoughts:

    The default rationalization of driving ability is usually "I'm a good driver because I haven't had a crash", but crashes represent the extreme manifestation of bad driving. The second symptom of bad driving is a surprise.

    Crashes always have 3 ingredients: too much speed, too little space, and then a surprise.

    The first symptom of bad driving is the combination of too much speed and too little space incorporated into a driving style, resulting in an inadequate safety margin.

    Surprises come in 3 forms (you mentioned the first 2):

    1. Stationary objects, such as traffic lights, bend severity
    2. Moving objects, such as reactions of other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists
    3. Your own reactions

    Almost all driving situations can be foreseen, either by direct observation, or intelligent anticipation. Better drivers not only tend to see more, but seem to instinctively know when and where to look. This takes a tremendous amount of thought and practice.

    Another dubious rational is "I'm a good driver because I have fast reactions". If the drivers style relies on fast reactions, they have an inadequate safety margin to maintain control of the situation, and therefore not such a good driver.

    Surprises can be a very useful self-diagnosis tool.

    MB

  4. Great remarks about using surprises as a measure of ability.

    A few of my (brief) thoughts:

    The default rationalization of driving ability is usually "I&#39m a good driver because I haven&#39t had a crash", but crashes represent the extreme manifestation of bad driving. The second symptom of bad driving is a surprise.

    Crashes always have 3 ingredients: too much speed, too little space, and then a surprise.

    The first symptom of bad driving is the combination of too much speed and too little space incorporated into a driving style, resulting in an inadequate safety margin.

    Surprises come in 3 forms (you mentioned the first 2):

    1. Stationary objects, such as traffic lights, bend severity
    2. Moving objects, such as reactions of other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists
    3. Your own reactions

    Almost all driving situations can be foreseen, either by direct observation, or intelligent anticipation. Better drivers not only tend to see more, but seem to instinctively know when and where to look. This takes a tremendous amount of thought and practice.

    Another dubious rational is "I&#39m a good driver because I have fast reactions". If the drivers style relies on fast reactions, they have an inadequate safety margin to maintain control of the situation, and therefore not such a good driver.

    Surprises can be a very useful self-diagnosis tool.

    MB

Comments are closed

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