I had recently taken my vehicle into the dealership for service and required a drive to my office after they had taken my vehicle and keys. As usual, there were other people in the shuttle to be whisked away to their destinations. I tend to keep quiet while on my journey to work. Other passengers tend to do most of the talking. The main topic it seems is about driving, traffic and the roads. This was certainly the case with this trip.
The conversation was mainly about all of the other bad drivers they encounter. They were discussing how drivers would tailgate them and how annoyed they were about it. They discussed the two car lengths the other driver needed to follow safely. Two car lengths? Sorry drivers; but you’re wrong with that piece of advice. I wanted to offer advice and let them know it was really a two second following distance they needed. Part of the process that allows a driver to respond to the driver braking ahead of them is perception TIME, reaction TIME and actual stopping distance. I stayed quiet and continued to listen.
The conversation then moved toward freeway driving. They were complaining how drivers don’t know how to merge safely onto the freeway. They expressed their frustration as how drivers would not accelerate up to the flow of traffic or at least the speed limit before merging into traffic. I was agreeing with their observations until one of the passengers said they would force the drivers merging to go around them. Really? Why make it difficult for someone to enter the freeway when in turn that driver could try their lane change into the side of your vehicle? What happened about being a cooperative driver? What happened to adjusting speed or changing lanes to help the merging driver merge safely into traffic? I continued to stay quiet and listen.
The conversation moved onto route planning. I was pleased to hear the driver of the shuttle and the passengers had the right idea about proper route planning. They talked about avoiding congested roads and by changing the times of day they would tackle the heavier traffic. They all agreed this was a big part of making their trip easier and safer. Then, I watched how the driver of the shuttle tried to turn right on a red light at an intersection where a sign said not to. He was also taking a longer way to reach his destinations. Was he distracted with the conversations going on or was he just not paying attention to where he was going? I continued to stay quiet and listen…and watch.
As it was now my turn to be dropped off, the driver of the shuttle asked me where I worked. When I said Young Drivers of Canada, the passengers in the shuttle became quiet. Someone asked if I was a driving instructor. I replied that I was and was also the Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada. The driver and the passengers all smiled and someone even chuckled. With all this conversation going on regarding drivers, no one asked my opinion. I would have just asked them all to look in the mirror before criticizing other drivers. If they did, they may see another driver that would need to be criticized.
Sometimes we’re so quick at pointing out someone’s flaws that we fail to look at our own. Being the bigger person and admitting you need to change your driving habits is the first step to correcting your mistakes. Recognize that you need to improve will help our roads become safer to drive on. My question to each of you; are you the bigger person?