Being a great driver is about more than having complete mastery of your car. It’s not about how much you know about horsepower or how you can tell the size of an engine just by hearing it roar. It’s certainly not about how much you spend on your vehicle, how often you clean it or how fast you can make it weave through highway traffic on a hot summer’s day. It’s about being honest with yourself and constantly questioning your technique. It’s about perceiving hazards before they become hazards and knowing how to adapt your driving style to any situation or navitage a dangerous situation on the road safely. Lots of bad drivers consider themselves virtuosos behind the wheel, while genuinely good drivers are prone to introspection.
Naturally, the road is a spontaneous and hazardous place. When you’re travelling at 70 miles per hour, things can happen pretty quickly and reacting is a split second process that can mean the difference between life and death in some cases. All drivers, however proficient, encounter their fair share of near misses. But if you frequently find yourself saying things like “Geez, that guy came out of nowhere”, it’s worth asking yourself a serious question and giving yourself an honest answer. Was it the other guy… or was it you? Driver negligence is rarely something we do on purpose. But if we assign blame to the other driver every time we’re involved in a near miss scenario or even a minor collision, we miss opportunities to improve our technique and risk becoming part of the problem. As yourself these questions every time you get behind the wheel…
Do I know my limitations?
Do you make sure that you’re well fed and well hydrated on long trips. Do you resist the urge to make good time by powering through fatigue and take frequent rest breaks. Driver fatigue is responsible for thousands of deaths a year. Surely that’s a statistic to which we’d all rather not contribute. Good drivers know their human limitations and know the consequences for themselves and others when those limitations are ignored.
Do I treat the speed limit as a target?
It’s all too easy to forget that the speed limit is exactly that… A limit. Be honest with yourself, now. How often do you race yourself to get to the speed limit and keep the needle hovering around that mark regardless of how appropriate it may be for the conditions on the road? The speed limit is not a target, yet if we’re honest with ourselves most of us can tend to treat it as one.
Do I always give the road due care and attention?
The digital age has made your car more than just a car. It’s made it a haven from which you can navigate a plethora of digital media as you navigate the road. Screen mirroring solutions that replicate your phone’s screen on the dashboard are becoming increasingly widespread. While these are a huge boon for drivers, just make sure you’re using them safely.
Giving the road its due care and attention will enable you to perceive hazards more effectively, ensuring that you’re never surprised or bewildered by things that seem to happen spontaneously.
Now then… Did that guy really come out of nowhere?