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The real ABC’s of driving

Published December 6, 2012
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When educators mention the ABC’s of any discipline being taught, they are usually referring to the absolute basics.

In driver education there are definitely the basics that most people think of, such as the rules of the road, traffic signs and driving on the right side of the road, etc. These make up the bulk of what is taught when we take driving lessons.

I believe the real ABC’s of driving are more comprehensive and quite a bit different than what most motorists would think.

More from Ian Law:

Why there’s no such thing as a ‘dangerous’ highway

Why drivers still refuse to budge from the left lane

These ABC’s should be taught from an age younger than the 16 years required for licensing. They should be taught in every driving course and reviewed throughout everyone’s driving career.

A is for “Attitude”. Almost every driver on our roads needs to readjust their attitude toward driving. Before we click the remote to unlock the driver’s door, each of us should stop, take a deep breath and realize we are about to operate a two-ton machine of glass, steel and plastic that has the potential to kill, maim, ruin lives and break hearts.

Unfortunately there are too many motorists who forget that driving requires a high level of responsibility. Being in command of a potentially deadly form of transportation requires we prove our ability through testing and that when signing on the dotted line we agree to play by the rules. Without these rules, motoring mayhem would ensue.

None of us were born with a licence tucked into our diapers. It is not a “right” that everyone can drive if they want to. We must earn the “right” to drive by proving competence and responsibility.

Motoring is more than a carefree way to enjoy scenery or get away from it all. Everyone enjoys a spring drive or a trip along a scenic motorway, but it should be anything but carefree.

As we slip behind the steering wheel we should remind ourselves about doing our best to keep the trip as safe as possible. When we hear the click of the seat belt buckle it should remind us of the deadly potential of the automobile and the responsibility required to operate it.

B is for “Brains”. Driving a vehicle requires a certain level of intelligence. After all, our lives are on the line when we are behind the wheel. We should never catch ourselves driving without thinking. This means all motorists and truckers should not allow themselves to be distracted from processing vital driving information.

We should always think our way out of trouble on the road or, much better still, think ahead to avoid the danger.

Motorists are better off not allowing emotions to dictate a response to a traffic situation but rather to figure out the most intelligent response. For example, when we are “cut off” or wronged in some driving manner, we should keep our emotions in check and not escalate a tense situation. Think of the circumstances as not being personal. Most driving errors on our roads are due to incompetence and not someone out to get us.

This “B” stands for brains, not brawn. We should think our way through traffic and not try to intimidate or bully other drivers. This aggressive driving behaviour only leads to stress and increased danger.

Safe driving requires we think all the time. It also means the thinking we do while driving needs to be about the task of driving. Distractions, fatigue, drugs, alcohol, stress and other driving dangers will impair our ability to think.

The smarter we drive, the safer we drive. Our brain is the most important instrument in our vehicle!

C is for “Control”. It is in our best interest to learn how to control this large machine we call our vehicle. It has a lot of mass and is capable of death and a tremendous amount of destruction.

Every motorist should understand what it takes to control their vehicle in extreme conditions. This includes emergency situations such as collision avoidance, emergency lane changes and skids and slides.

Most drivers are capably in control as long as the driving scene goes as planned. However, when the driving situation turns ugly, the vast majority has no idea what their vehicle will do or how to control it in those conditions.

Every motorist should learn how to control their vehicle in emergency situations, on winter roads and any other extreme setting we come across while behind the wheel.

Control can also extend beyond the confines of our own vehicle. Motorists can learn how to control their driving situation so that other drivers are not forcing a circumstance to happen that impacts on them.

These are the real ABC’s of driving and every motorist should learn more than the basics.

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