I try to believe that everyone has the potential to drive well. Based on what I see though, that belief is in question. In fact, the actions of many drivers negate that belief entirely.
Maybe driving well is unachievable for some. For example, can a person who creates a rolling roadblock by driving their car in the left lane aside another car at ten miles below the speed limit on the freeway drive better? Possibly not.
To improve, that driver would have to know the speed limit, concentrate on maintaining proper vehicle speed, understand the rules of the road regarding left lane use, take occasional glances in the rear-view mirror and have consideration for others.
Are such drivers, making such errors, really incapable of doing better? Or are they simply unwilling to try? Or even worse, are they doing it on purpose?
Driving an automobile properly, even in the absence of emergencies, is one of the most complex multi-tasking endeavors we experience. Looking far ahead, checking mirrors, judging proximity of other vehicles, staying within our lane, maintaining speed, operating accessories, scanning gauges and interacting with passengers takes a devoted effort. Evidently, many drivers seem to resist abiding by these basic requirements.
So, that left-lane freeway driver may be unable to do better. That’s not good, but I’d prefer it to be the case; otherwise, he or she apparently wants to drive that way. There are drivers who, for unknown reasons, want to control traffic. For example, they feel like driving below the speed limit and intend to relegate others to a slower speed.
I don’t understand the justification for self-policing traffic, but it’s a real phenomenon. I’ve had drivers admit that they hold speed exactly at or just below the limit when making a freeway pass to keep potential speeders at bay.
Maybe these self-appointed regulators lack a sense of power at their job and compensate, within the perceived anonymity and protection of their vehicles, with a show of control over others. They are using their cars and trucks as shields and weapons in their battle for power and control.
As mentioned, I prefer to think that maybe it’s just lack of concentration — not taking the task of driving as seriously as one should.
And one should take the task very seriously. Though strides have been made in overall motoring safety, nearly 100 lives per day are still lost in vehicle crashes. Driving is probably the riskiest activity most of us undertake that we have control over.
According to the statistics, the average person has about 1 in 100 lifetime odds of dying in a motor vehicle wreck. That’s more than twice as likely as a death from a fall (1 in 246) and way more likely than dying in a plane crash (1 in 20,000).
That’s why I feel that it’s worthwhile to put plenty of effort into precision driving, something I can control, thus improving my odds of survival while at the wheel.
It seems to me that devoting due diligence to driving, lending appropriate knowledge, thought and consideration to the process, is a worthy exercise in self-preservation and the safety of others. It’s one of the inherently dangerous activities we undertake for which we can influence outcome.
If you cannot drive effectively after practiced efforts of concentration and consideration, consider letting others do the driving for you.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.