When drivers get behind the wheel of their cars they find a growing issue; other drivers are becoming ruder, more aggressive and are causing more accidents. Surveys typically offer the following information:
It is useless for individual drivers to look any further for solutions than themselves. The only thing that is under a driver's control is his or her own driving behavior. While you can't predict what another driver is going to do, you can make a stronger effort to make the roads and streets safer.
Obey traffic lights, signs and road markings. All of these are important methods to control traffic and minimize accidents. Just try to figure out how much time you "save" by tailgating, lane changing and running traffic lights. If you save anything, it's seconds, not minutes. Also, if you are involved in an accident, you've just lost any time ever gained by risky driving. Insurance paperwork and accident reports can claim hours and days of your life. If time is important to you, then take the time to pay attention to the rules of the road.
You will also find it healthier and safer to avoid paranoia. The other drivers in the other cars and trucks are not out to get you. Don't take things personally since the silly things that happen in cars are usually mistaken or mindless, not malicious. Just relax and concentrate on your own driving. Yield right of way to others, stop for school buses, and watch for pedestrians and bicyclists. The more patient, respectful, and attentive drivers there are on the road, the better it will be…for all of us (and our insurance rates).
In part one of "Become a Better Driver," our advice was that the roads will be safer for all when, as individuals, we reject distractions and become more attentive while operating vehicles. That advice is quite solid. However, driving trends still show that, in recent years, accidents have been increasing, so many people are, literally, not paying attention.
A major reason for our growing vehicle safety problems are the growth of distractions, primarily those caused by smart phone use. Driving Safety and authorities continue to warn us, but our use of smart phones has become so popular that they are routinely causing dangerous behavior by both drivers and pedestrians.
In such times, it makes sense to take greater steps to keep yourself safe on our roadways. Building on the base behaviors that make you a safer driver, you must consider the strategy, embracing defensive driving. The chief element of defensive driving is to assume that outside forces are actively working to endanger you, therefore you have to shift your driving behavior us a notch from attentive to vigilant.
A method for defensive vehicle operation comes from a paper titled SPIDER: A Framework for Understanding Driver Distraction. It was written by David Strayer, D. and Fisher, D. and appeared in University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Human Factors, Vol. 58, No. 1, February 2016.
In that paper, SPIDER is an acronym that provide guidance in how to behave while behind the wheel. More specifically, while driving you should also be:
This can be an effective approach that recognizes and mitigates the driving danger that others create by their distracted behavior. Actively assuming that others may be distracted allows you to take extra precautions when approaching intersections or when dealing with pedestrians.
So take more responsibility for your own safety while driving. Be attentive and be defensive.