Defensive driving, as opposed to offensive driving, was developed with the idea of promoting safety and security on the streets. Most insurance companies require applicants take the class if they wish to lower their premiums, especially among young or teenage drivers who have a history of recklessness on the road (although not me for some reason). To that end, there are a few things I learned from the classes that can help prepare you for them, or just help you on the road if you’ve already taken the class. The first thing:
#1 Constant Vigilance!
When you’re out there on the road, you have to develop a strong mental attitude if you want to survive. Most of you will probably think this advice bordering on paranoia, but I find it comforting to think that I’m the only sane person rolling down the asphalt, that everyone else is crazy, stupid, or has it in for me. Always assume every driver around you is a potential accident waiting to happen. After all, you have no idea whether they’re going to obey the traffic safety laws, or if they’re a crazy person recently escaped from the asylum; when you’re on the road, you aren’t looking to see if the driver has liquor-breath and crazy eyes, you’re watching how close their fender is to yours.
#2 Keep Your Eyes Peeled
Not every street you come across is going to be marked and properly paved. Sometimes cars will hide behind corners or around fences, or else unknown hazards may await the unwary traveler. A fallen branch could punch a hole in your tire, a kid could run out in front of you (because they’re dumb), or a car could appear to be waiting for you to pass and suddenly jump out in front of you (probably being driven by a kid). Or else you may have some annoyingly good-intentioned friend who insists he knows how to drive better than you do, even when he isn’t the one behind the wheel. For this reason, being aware of your surroundings is paramount.
#3 Road Rage Remedies
Being stressed or angry on the road plus a traffic jam is a recipe for disaster. If you have to drive while upset, try counting to ten, remember something pleasant, or find a way to distract yourself from the problem (without taking your eyes off the road of course). Even if you have to take an hour to settle down, go for a run, lift some weights, meditate in a corner, it would be time well-spent, especially if it avoids an accident.
#4 Annoyances Inside and Out
I’m only going to say this once: Let annoyances slide. If someone cuts you off, don’t get mad, don’t get even, just let it slide. Really, they aren’t worth your time to get mad at; you’ve got places to go and don’t need them holding up your mind along with your life. Give yourself three seconds to fume and then let it go, otherwise you’ll be stuck with that annoying train, or that damnable cow in the road, whatever the cause, give yourself a set amount of time to be annoyed and then let it go. And remember: When driving, your kids are out to get you! Unless one of them is screaming in agony, ignore them completely.
#5 Pedestrians, civilians, kids, and pests (pets)
People are annoying, there’s no question about it. Kids whine, adults whine, pests-I mean pets-bark, claw, jump out in front of cars (Am I confusing the…pets, with the children, or the other way around?), or else make a general nuisance of themselves, especially when they jay-walk across the street (Like the kids). Generally, I assume, like your kids, they’re completely ADD and haven’t read any of the traffic safety laws (I’m detecting a pattern here). As such, make sure you keep an eye on the pests (might as well just call them what they are) so you don’t end up hitting one by accident; lawsuits are worse than death, particularly when it involves someone’s dog (I swear, some of these people are really crazy about their pests).
And there you have it, the five most helpful, and slightly paranoid, things about defensive driving. Never forget: Constant vigilance, eyes open, stay calm, ignore the flies, and kids are out to get you. Remember those five things and you’ll substantially reduce the risk of being ending up dead from massive internal injuries from a high-speed collision.
Defensive Driving Courses: The Comedy Guys