The roads we share are filled with drivers having varying exposure levels and abilities. And each one of them has their own set of driving experiences and potential questions regarding proper driving behavior. Lately, many readers have shared those experiences and questions, allowing me to address situations paramount in their minds.
The potential driving topics represented by reader backgrounds and inquiries are seemingly endless, and I would like to hear more from you about them. Please chime in by email with any knowledge or questions that come to mind. Following are brief outlines of the many things for drivers to consider.
Rules of the road
It’s all-important not to guess at the laws governing driver behavior, and there are many little-known or misunderstood federal, state and municipal statutes. While many state guidelines are similar for the most part, each one has specific rules unique to it, and each city has rules that trump state law. Examples of relevant topics include right of way, bikes/motorcycles, emergency vehicles, pedestrians, school busses, speed limits, turns, stops, signals, traffic control, and following distance.
Being in compliance with equipment mandates and following recommended vehicle maintenance are two important components of driving safety. Things such as height restrictions, tires, lighting, towing requirements and brakes are governed by law. Other vehicle service is covered in manufacturers’ maintenance schedules, and adhering to those procedures helps assure safety and dependability. I’ve often said that the owner’s manual in your car or truck makes for important reading regarding basic vehicle use, feature operation and preventative maintenance.
Essentially, every driving topic involves safety. In fact, everything listed above has to do with safety, but there are countless other worthy topics. Some of these common matters are: road sharing with all entities (bikes, pedestrians, motorcycles, trucks), young drivers, elderly drivers, distracted drivers, drowsy drivers, and occupant protection. The top of most driving safety lists contain: Alcohol, drugs and driving under influence, aggressive driving (speeding, excessive lane changing, tailgating), and driving in adverse conditions.
Whether novice or seasoned, any driver is only as good as their last successful outing. Knowing the rules of the road, having a compliant, well-maintained vehicle, and being aware of major safety concerns are highly important. But additionally, practicing it all during real-world driving is crucial, and practicing it over and over again is mandatory for continued safety.
Young drivers, lacking experience, often practice the skills, rules and procedures they’ve recently learned in order to get better. Sometime later, many drivers become complacent, and fail to afford devoted practice to those same basics. While those drivers gain experience, they regularly develop bad habits and form their own rules of operation. Avoid falling into that “trap” by practicing proper driving techniques each and every time you take the wheel. Motor vehicles can quickly become deadly weapons when misused.
So, make an appraisal of your driving “IQ” based on some of the preceding considerations. All drivers, beginner to experienced, young to old, can benefit from an objective look at behavior, discussion of procedures, and practicing both basic and advanced skills. I would love to hear any questions, comments, tips or experiences you wish to explore or share with others regarding the important task of driving well.
It’s not that tough to be a good driver, but without knowledge, preparation, thought, practice and attention, it’s impossible!
Readers may contact Bill Love via email at email@example.com.