In Britain driving is a privilage. The test is multi-faceted and structured in such a way that a driver must show a wide range of observational, practical, and knowledge based skills to be granted a licence.
In the United States driving is a right. The test (in Virginia) is short, simple, and designed to ensure a minimal level of driver competance. If you don’t believe me, try a commute on Monday morning and see the queues of coffee swilling, make-up adjusting, paper reading, mobile phone using SUV drivers who are unaware of their immediate surroundings.
To improve the situation, I’d like to ask everybody who reads this blog to try and include the three following thoughts into their driving processes. It might just make everybody’s commute a bit easier.
This is the most important change I want to make. Just ease off and let a bit of air develop between your car and the car in front. I was taught “Only a fool breaks the two second rule”. Try saying the phrase, it takes about two seconds, so if you observe the car in front pass a static object, and you pass the same object before finishing the phrase you are too close.
Don’t impulse brake!
This rule is easily linked with the rule above. If you are too close to the car in front, any change in their driving will have an immediate impact on your joruney. This can be seen in any string of nose to tail cars on the Fairfax County Parkway, when the lead car slows, every subsequent car stabs their brake pedal slightly, and at the back of the chain suddenly you have to slam on your brakes as the queue collides in a concertina fashion. If you’ve given yourself some room, then you can just ease off the gas and the car will slow gently without any sudden stomping braking… and guess what, if the person behind you did the same, and the person behind them, then we wouldn’t get these unexpected halts on clear sections of road caused by incompetant tailgaters! [anybody sensing a bit of anger might just be right]
No, really, it is that simple. Don’t just stare at the car in front’s taillights look as far ahead as you can, and use your mirrors, but don’t rely just on them, use your enck and look around too. If people would just be a bit more aware of their surroundings I wouldn’t need to take evasive action everytime somebody answers there cellphone and decides to take a sideswipe into the next lane.
Observation is vital, it’ll mean you don’t need to slam on your brakes as you approach an intersection that is on a green light, because you will have seen the light is green, and you will have checked that no unexpected vehicles are entering the junction before you storm on in there and stomp on the brakes.
Final thought… I am not a great driver, heck I’m a seriously average driver, but I know that, and I try not to drive tired, and I never take a call on my phone unless I am stationary and not blocking traffic. I know I can be a little impatient behind the wheel (mild understatement) but if we all just showed each other a little more patiences and a little more respect, it’d make all our commutes just a little less stressful.
okay, sermon over, normal service can now resume….