You’ve all heard the expression “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”. That sort of says it all when it comes to persuading people to improve their own driving skills, especially when the results are for their own good.
Most of the motorized population give very little thought to their driving because, once you’ve learned how and become comfortable with it, you tend to forget that you are controlling a two, three or sixty-ton piece of machinery down the road with unknown multiple hazards. You feel enclosed and safe and that nothing can hurt you. You’re in your own little bubble and nothing else matters. TO STAY SAFE, YOU HAVE TO THINK ABOUT YOUR DRIVING WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING! Open your mind a bit and consider big animals, wheelchairs, scooters, bicycles, E-bikes/motorcycles, ATV’s, boats, snowmobiles, cars, trucks, tractor-trailers, buses construction equipment and giant, four hundred ton, wheeled, commercial equipment. Each animal or driver has their own agenda which doesn’t consider you or your plan. Then, there’s the nightmare …… the ball rolling out onto the street with a carefree child chasing it. This is one of the hardest lessons any trainer has to convey to drivers.
You drive out there without ever considering some of the hazards. Oh yes, you may think of the odd drunk or distracted driver that might be out there every so often but, is there anything else to be anxious about, is that the only problem you’re going to face?
Consider who’s out there with you for starts:
- .022% of the world’s population has just received their first driver’s license in the past year; that’s 30,000 new drivers with minimum qualifications and little experience, just in the Province of Ontario alone, every year;
- Yes, there are daily commuters who use your particular piece of roadway every day that know exactly where they’re going but, among them, are also a great percentage of drivers who have never seen your section of road before;
- Have you ever taken the time to look at traffic patterns on the first day of school after the summer vacation? It is the nuttiest day on the highways because there are so many people on a time limit, trying to find their way around, listening to directions of non-drivers saying things like turn right here ……. no, turn left, right here. And, keep in mind that these drivers have not been on a highway all summer IF they’ve EVER been out there before;
There are drivers who have never driven on anything but a two-lane dirt road sharing your 18 lane superhighway at high speed every day;
- People with diagnosed mental impairments drive your roads ….. people who have NOT been diagnosed also are out there with you. Ever heard of “road rage”? “Road rage” happens to all of us, to some degree, mentally stable or not.
- We’ve heard a lot about distracted driving (and now walking) in the past few years and we tend to mentally place that in a certain category but, …… anything out there around you can be a distraction for some drivers;
- Have you ever left a really heated argument, hopped in the car and raced off? Sure you have and so does everybody else, at any time, anywhere.
- Have you ever exceeded a speed limit? Sure you have and if asked, you’re likely to answer, “everybody does it”.
Would you ever consider not driving because you’ve been diagnosed with some ailment like diabetes? There are millions of us out there – at various glucose levels, changing constantly hour by hour.
- Have you ever taken an “over-the-counter” medication with codeine in it? You do realize that you ARE impaired to some degree when you drive. It’s not just alcohol and illegal drugs that impair. All drugs do, to some degree. How often do people heed the label?
- Now, isn’t it strange that, so far, we’ve only considered the “other” driver? We have given absolutely no thought to ourselves. Are we any good as drivers? Everybody thinks they are but, as I said, most people aren’t thinking about their own driving, just what the other fellow hasn’t thought of. He’s the problem, right? WRONG!!!
- Have you been lucky, so far?
- Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME
About the Author
Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.
As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.
Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council