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Driver’s Ed 101

In the last month, I have put an overwhelming 4,400 miles of road between me and my home on two separate trips. One trip took me from my home in Central Nebraska to the far Northeastern corner of Ohio and back again. The next trip, a mere four days later, took me to the interior of Mexico.

Needless to say, I am tired. I’m tired of rest areas. I’m tired of that little yellow line in the middle of the road. I’m tired of gas station coffee that numbs your taste buds. Honestly, I’m tired of driving. But more importantly, I’m tired of dumb drivers.

Dumb drivers are those on the road that care little for the laws, for safety or for others. They often deem themselves owners of the open road. They put you, your family, your friends and themselves in danger by driving in an unsafe manner. During my long trips, as my patience drew short with these maniac drivers, I made a list of guidelines to remember if you want to avoid being a danger on the road to yourself and others.

[NOTE: I actually dictated this list to my wife as we were in the car. If I had actually written this as I was driving, that would negate every point I want to make, wouldn’t it? Dumb!]

[TIP #1]

The first tip is the most important: Change your perspective! Many of us are selfish drivers. We’re going somewhere, we want to arrive at that destination and little else matters.

Such is the attitude of dumb drivers. If you want to be safer on the road, change your perspective. Stop thinking of yourself only and adopt the words of Paul as your motive, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

When you start speeding like Jeff Gordon, you not only endanger yourself, but you endanger everyone around you. If you swerve in and out of traffic on the highway, you put those in your path in a bad situation. Think about the lives of those in the cars around you.

I have a wife, a daughter and one child on the way. You’re behind the wheel of a loaded, high-speed weapon. When you drive erratically, it upsets me because you’re threatening the lives of the most precious people in my world. You might as well hold guns to our heads. You’re putting all of us in a bad situation. Think of us, please, when you drive.

[TIP #2]

Secondly, don’t tailgate. Nothing bothers me so much as when I look in my rear view mirror only to see the hood ornament of a strange car rammed into my tailpipe. I’m convinced that tailgating is the main proponent of road rage. Every time someone rides my bumper, I have to resist the urge to tap my brakes, hoping that when you see my brake lights you’ll get off my rear!

At 65 miles-per-hour, it takes you 143 feet of traveling distance, or one-and-a-half seconds, to realize that I have hit my brakes (Driver’s Ed, remember). Then it takes another 188 feet of distance, or one-and-a-half seconds again, for you to stop. And that’s on dry pavement with good brakes and good tires. If your front bumper is too close to my rear bumper, and you’re looking at the scenery or talking on your cell phone, and you miss the fact that my brake lights are on, we’re both in trouble. You hit me and we both end up hurt.

Please drive at a safe distance behind the car in front of you. Do it for my sanity and for the safety of the both of us!

[MORE TIPS FOR YOU]

Don’t pass on the right. Not only is it illegal, it’s terribly unsafe. The side view mirror on the right side of the car is less reliable than all the others. (It’s also the most seldom checked!) If you pass on the right, chances are you won’t be seen. With that in mind, don’t just drive down the highway in the left lane. Left lanes are for passing, not cruising. If you don’t drive in the left lane, you won’t be passed on the right.

Seriously, it’s time to start using your blinkers. How much energy does it take to push that little lever up or down? Are you so lazy that you cannot signal your intentions on the road? If other cars know what you want to do, everyone will be safer. In the same vein, follow all the laws of traffic. They are there for a reason. The government has put speed limits and other traffic laws in effect for your safety; they there to help you get to your destination alive.

Use your cruise control on the highways. Consistency is key. Does this picture sound familiar to you? You are driving (in the right lane) when you approach a little station wagon traveling at a slower pace than you. (Keeping at a safe distance, of course), you get into the left lane (after using your blinker) and pass this car (using the left lane for passing only). After you have passed, you resume traveling in the right lane (after, once again, signaling your intentions).

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A mile or so down the road, a car passes you. Why, lo and behold, it’s that same little station wagon that you just passed! Can you believe that they have the nerve to speed up and pass you now? They do so, and as they pull over in front of you, they let off the gas, and you are forced to now pass them again! Annoying? Yes. The solution? That little station wagon should use their cruise control to keep at a constant speed. We should all be consistent. This will make everyone around us happier.

On one of my recent trips, a few deer jumped into the road in front of me. I responded quickly and avoided hitting them. They ran in front of me from the right to the left. Then I had a thought: Are the cars on the other side of the highway alert enough to be ready for an animal to jump in front of them, not from the right to the left, but from the left to the right? I never used to scan the left side of the road for critters. But now I do. You should also.

With that, I will get off my soapbox. Apply these few tips, and you’ll be happy because you should make it to your destination without an incident. I, in turn, will thank you for not endangering my life or the lives of my family members and friends. And we can all move beyond being dubbed “a dumb driver.”

[We hope this article will ease all the rage one feels after a day of driving.]

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