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Safer Driving Tips Page 3

How many of you read the last Points to Safer Driving have had a go at driving to the system. All of you? Some of you? At least one of you? Well, I do hope it is all of you for if anything will improve road safety then it is the application of the system. However, onto a point that I think is the first major step that any driver can do to start to improve their driving and this is to be able to recognise and admit, if only to ourselves, when we have made a mistake. We ALL make mistakes! Yes, every driver makes mistakes at times because the perfect driver has yet to be born and it is likely he or she never will be because we are all human and human beings make mistakes. The trick here though is to realise a mistake has been made and to try to prevent yourself from making the same mistake again. If you can say to yourself 'You daft idiot whatever did you do that for?' after an error then you are well on the way to starting to improve your driving. You have recognised that you have done something incorrectly and have resolved to try not to repeat it. The big problem with a lot of drivers is firstly that no one likes to admit that their driving is not up to scratch and secondly, a large slumber of drivers look upon driving as just a necessary evil that has to be done.

The first group have to realise that they are not perfect anti even if they will not admit it to others shell they must admit it to themselves. However the biggest problem lies with the second group They pass their DOT driving test, gain their licence and then assume that they have arrived and need do nothing more ever again. They can drive and that is all there is to it. They see no need to improve their standard or even at the very least maintain the standard that they had achieved on the day that they passed the test. These are generally the people who do not realise that they are making mistakes and they will continue doing so until eventually the mistake leads to an incident. The sort of thing I mean here is the driver who, when leaving a motorway signals without looking first and cuts straight across the path of another car to go up the slip road. They always do it that way and never realise that they are causing problems for other drivers. The person who every morning pulls out of his or her front driveway without looking. Every morning there is no incident because they know very little traffic comes along their road so they just pull out. Until that one morning when the Paper girl is there on her bike. Too late to realise then isn't it? Hopefully these people would be horrified if they realised what they had actually done.

As most of you know I currently teach police officers to drive and when they come to us to learn to drive response cars they often have a good few years driving under their belts. They come to us for three weeks intensive driving before they take their police test which is known as their 'Final Drive'. The first week of the course is spent ironing out the bad habits and the second two weeks are spent polishing the skills learnt in the first week. One of my students said to me after I had shown him that he was going into hazards, indeed danger, far too quickly. 'How the hell I have not had an accident in the last seventeen years I just do not know. My wife said I drove too quickly but I never realised it was so bad.' He had been doing these things for years and had never realised the errors of his ways. The unfortunate thing here was that he is a keen motorsport fan and has an interest in things motoring. The unfortunate thing for him was that he had an extremely hard task stopping himself from continuing to travel too fast for a given situation.

I will give you one small example before I finish this time, my student did it and I have also travelled with a friend who also has done it. My student was driving me along a national speed limit road and we were approaching a cross roads. We were on the major road and the minor road crossing ours was controlled by a Stop sign. There were cars waiting on the minor road on both sides looking for the opportunity to join our road. My student kept on travelling at speed towards the junction without showing any sign of slowing. I suggested to him that he might like to consider the fact that possibly one of the cars waiting might just pull out in front of him. As I did so that very thing happened and my student was immediately having to lose speed by very firm braking to avoid having "a coming together" with the errant vehicle. With a little forethought he would have slackened his speed at the approach to the junction to ensure it was safe to continue through it and would have avoided the need to brake so firmly. I know that it could be argued the car that came out was in the wrong and should not have done so and if we had 'come together' then the driver of that car would have been at fault but with just that little forethought then there would be no bent metal, hurt pride or worst hurt people.

How many times do you fly through a junction knowing you have right of way without thinking of slowing to check to see if it is safe to drive on? Next time you do say to yourself, 'Why the hell did I do that?' you will have recognised that you have made an error and started to improve your driving.

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