It seems that everywhere I go, I am confronted with people whose driving skills leave something to be desired. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve begun wondering why there are so many bad drivers out there sharing the roads with the rest of us. Here are some possible weak links in the bad driver equation.
The lack of quality of driver instruction that is offered to new drivers – You’ve heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” After trying to help my daughter learn how to drive and having her argue with me about what she should be doing because her driver’s ed teacher told her something contradictory to what I was teaching her. Now I’ve come up with a twist on the old saying, “Those who can’t do, teach–those who can’t teach, teach driver’s ed.” My niece had gone through a driver’s ed course through her school and had also taken driving lessons through a professional driving school. When I say “professional” I use that term quite loosely here. I was appalled at the lack of knowledge, skill and general awareness that my niece exhibited in her driving after having recieved so much instruction. As I taught her critical skills I have included in my own driving curriculum, I would ask her if any of the information sounded familiar to her at all. Most of the time her response was negative. Withoug a good foundation, a drivers abilities will be sersiously lacking. It should be noted here that good driving habits are built on the foundation of five pillars and I’ll give a brief discussion of each.
The first pillar is knowledge. You have to know and understand the rules of the road and the situational circumstances in which to apply them.
Contrary to popular opinion, practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practices makes perfect. For example, learning how to drive in the snow and mastering the ability to control a fishtail can only be accomplished by going to a snowy parking lot and fishtailing (not just doing “donuts”) around the parking lot until you begin to understand the feel our your car driving in such conditions. And even then, until one understands the nuances of various kinds of snow and how that impacts the car’s driving characteristics in the snow, they have not yet mastered the “skillset” incorporated in winter driving. That’s just one example. The bottom line is that if someone does not regularly practice skills like the “2/12″ rule, or how to consistantly drive in the center of their lane, they will not be “skillful.”
Many people are way too distracted to be behind a wheel. Whether they are talking on their cell phone, disciplining their children, or just not paying attention to their driving in general, they are not paying attention to the top priority of the moment as they barrel down the road in a 1/2 ton piece of metal and plastic with wheels. When people are not paying attention, collisions will occur.
Awareness is the ability to combine knowledge, skill and alertness and the ability to apply them to any given situation you will encounter while driving. For example, you may be perfectly alert, and yet still not have it occur to you (due to lack of awareness) that when a car is merging onto the hightway and you are in the far right lane, that the best thing to do to keep from creating a bottleneck in traffic, is to move over a lane so the car can merge unobstructed by you. I would say that only one in ten drivers is aware.
People tend to forget their manners when they get behind the wheel of a car. And yet, it is those common courtesies (which are no longer so common) that help to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic unencumbered by the idiots that zig and zag in and out of lanes, or the clueless jerks that drive slower than the flow of traffic in the left lanes. Little things like letting a car cut in front of you when you can see that there are quite a few cars behind you that might not let him/her in can make all of the difference in one’s driving experience. Please be courteous.
Bad drivers abound. But if you pay attention to these things I’ve talked about and work on putting it all together, then it’s unlikely that you will ever be lumped into that category.