Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Which generation is the better driver?

When I taught behind the wheel, I would remind students that the future of our society rested upon their shoulders. I am sure that there was some eye rolling involved on their part as I reminded them.
The reason I pointed this out to them is because as time goes on, there seems to be a greater need for self-control and a real need in following the law and rules of the road. Don’t believe me? Look at this article about a road rage incident that had a 65-year-old man hanging on for dear life (literally) on the hood of a car while the driver supposedly reached speeds of 70 mph. Here’s a link to view this incident and news report: This occurred in Massachusetts, but road rage is everywhere these days.
A story had been told me by my auto-shop teacher once of a person selling an old car for an outrageously high dollar value and then of a person who bought the car for that price. My shop instructor told me that is where two idiots met, one for thinking it was worth that much and the other for buying it for that much.
The incident with the man on the hood supposedly started with a minor fender bender and escalated into a crazy stunt on the road and eventually ending with a 3rd man holding the driver at bay with a gun. It reminded me of my shop instructor and the story he told.
You see, my generation and the generations beyond seem to have some issues when it comes to following rules and good advice by the experts.
My hope lies with the youth of today. Most of my students were more than willing to follow the rules. It’s when they get their license and then move on in life that they fall into the same trap – they forget or get sloppy. Please don’t do that. I’m counting on you all.
I’ve heard psychologists say that you should never make any major decisions such as selling or buying or changing things when you are emotional after a break or a death or a major health incident, or a loss of job etc. Because we may not be thinking right during or just after these events.
I think it would be safe to say that you shouldn’t drive when you are emotional from loss or whatever. Don’t Climb into the driver’s seat when you are emotional or about to be. Anger and rage fall into the emotional category. If you can’t control yourself then you surely can’t control the car or anything else for that matter. Calm down first.
If you are a young driver that is about to get your license or has just gotten your license, then don’t make the same mistakes that older drivers make and don’t seem to care about. Including and especially road rage.
Some people claim that younger drivers are worse drivers. Worse? I don’t think so. Inexperienced? Yes, but consider: If you are an older driver you might want to keep reading to analyze your role in driving on the highway.
Young drivers do not make the same mistakes that most drivers make.
Wha? What the heck is he talking about? Well before you tar and feather me, consider the following:
I know that some young drivers push their luck with speed or carelessness but that’s not the norm from my perspective. If they do push the envelope it usually is through peer pressure or experimentation or in some cases, it’s because their parents drive that way.
But it’s usually not because they don’t care. In other words, most young drivers follow the rules up to and through getting the general license. At least that’s my experience with new young drivers.

It seems that drivers that move out of the “just started to drive group” into the “I’ve driven some” group start to fall into the trap of driving how they see fit.
From my experiences on the road, most drivers, or for lack of a better description, the average group, simply drive as they see fit.
And the older and more experienced that drivers get then the more likely they are to throw away the driving rule book and just do what seems right to them at the time. They tend to get this; “the heck with the rules I gotta get where I’m going… etc. Besides no one else follows the rules…”
So here’s a question for you all, young and old, when rules are discarded then what do drivers rely on to navigate roadways?
Hmmmm. Good question don’t you think?
Most of the rule breakers on the road today are older and experienced drivers. Hence my comment, “Give me the younger drivers to interact on the road any day.”
I used to ask my students; “You tell me. Of the 2 groups, drivers your age or drivers my age (older than 21) who is the better driving group?
Typically, they would respond with the perceived correct answer or the one that they thought I wanted to hear, “People in your group!”
I would then respond with, “Buzzzzzz – Wrong!” Which again typically caused a raised eyebrow by the student.
I would then follow up with another question, “Why would you say my group are better drivers?” The reply would then be something about experience.
I gotta tell ya, experience is nothing without rules and paying attention.
And that is where my group fails miserably!!!
Here’s several reasons why:
Most people get off work, jump in the ole’ ride, hit the starter, slap it in gear, and head on out down the road. While they are getting up to speed and running that yellow light, they begin to think, of their never ending to do list "groceries, what was I suppose to pick up, I forgot to call, did I sign my child's permission form, what time is that meeting at church on Sunday etc.…”
Meanwhile they are halfway in their trip and couldn’t tell you what the last road sign passed was about or whether they stopped at the last intersection because they are on “auto-pilot.”
1. These people are the dangerous drivers. Way more dangerous than a typically perceived “inexperienced” younger drivers. As with anything in life, there are no absolutes. There are some good drivers that are older and there are some lousy young drivers. But I’m talking in general here.
When I would meet someone new during my stint as a driving instructor, they would ask what you do for a living and I would tell them “I’m a drivers ed instructor.” And they would typically respond with, “OMG I couldn’t do what you do. I’d be scared to death! Aren’t you worried about accidents and crazy driving from the young inexperienced drivers?!”
I’d say “uh… NO. It’s not my students that worry me. It’s everyone else.” Which usually resulted in a puzzled look from the interviewer.
I’d then explain as a follow-up, “Here’s why I prefer my students; When was the last time you picked up a drivers manual from the state of Georgia and take a look at it to see if any driving laws/rules have changed?” Yeah you guessed it. The answer usually was not since I was learning to drive.
How about this one? “When was the last time you drove focused solely on driving? You see my students, although inexperienced, would be so wired into driving they would be completely focused on what was happening in the car at that moment and what is about to happen. Why? Because they didn’t want to screw up! They didn’t want me, the police, and above all else – their parents, mad at them. And I don’t blame them (me either).
Next time you are a passenger, look out the window and notice the drivers nearby. Do you think they are focused solely on their driving? You see, my students were a heck of a lot more focused on their driving than the relaxed, experienced, and (dare I say) older drivers.
Give me a student any time and I’ll be just fine. Besides having to pay attention and having classroom training to get the license, they are accountable.
When I drove for the trucking company and for Nathan’s there was a phone number on the truck and car. You could call that number and report me if I broke the rules/laws.
With my students, they usually had to report to their parents or caretakers if they broke the rules.
Accountability works wonders. Maybe we should be required to put a phone number on our cars so that we could be reported – but then again, no driving and phoning at the same time (Georgia law). Still you get my meaning here I’m sure. If you are accountable, then you are careful or better be.
Most drivers that think they are “better than average drivers” or “experienced” don’t report to anyone regarding their driving.
“No accountability” equals “who cares?” driving and that is asking for trouble.
At the very least be accountable to the person that matters most in your life. That may be a parent, or spouse, a significant other, the police, or in some cases, yourself.
The next time a parent would like for their kids to “drive like us”, they might want to rethink and rephrase that statement.
My advice is that you follow the rules and do not go into autopilot when you become an experienced driver (and experianced drivers reading this, do a self check up. . When you don’t you are putting everyone at risk.

1 comment:

Which generation is the better driver?

When I taught behind the wheel, I would remind students that the future of our society rested upon their shoulders. I am sure that there was...