Safe Driver

Up ] Next ]

Are YOU a Safe Driver?

by Bob (Ram) Muessig

     "Oh yes. I’m a safe driver. I’ve never had an accident." That’s a response which many of us offer. But just how safe are we...really? I’ve been driving professionally for over two million miles and consider myself to be a safe driver. Now, I’m not saying I’ve never had an accident, for that’s simply not true. I’ve been involved in four or five over the course of my "driving life". I’m 55 now and started driving when I was 15, so I suppose that I can log 40 years of driving. The accidents I’ve been in occurred during my younger years. The last serious accident was when I was in my early 30’s, and I really don’t care to be in another. I’ve also had citations, though those were when I was in my teens and into my 20’s. I must admit that my driving didn’t change much until I became a pilot. My pilot’s training taught me to be highly observant, and that alone changed my driving habits dramatically. If I had only started flying sooner...

     Safety on the road is no accident...and none caused! Consider this scenario:

     You’re driving down the freeway and traffic is getting thick. Rush hour. Good Grief, that guy is going slow. Think I’ll pass at the first opportunity. OK, give one blink on the turn signal, change lanes quickly and get around him. Don’t look in the rear-view mirror, ‘cause that will only scare you and delay passing. If someone coming up fast in the other lane hits you, well it’s his fault. Made it! Now, step on the gas and get gone in a hurry! Sound familiar? It sure does to me, for I’ve seen this very thing happen time and time again...everywhere.

    You drive on, knowing that you’re a safe driver because you didn’t have an accident. But what about the poor schmuck that almost hit you? He swerved or hit the brakes to keep from hitting you, but the driver behind him plowed into the rear of his vehicle. He had the accident, but YOU caused it by not using safe driving techniques. On the freeway, this sort of thing happens all the time, and it can blossom into a multi-vehicle collision with extensive damage and even death.

     Check out some of the major traffic tie-ups in Los Angeles, Phoenix, or other heavily populated areas where people are always in a hurry and you’ll begin to understand what I’m talking about.

     Hurry up when you see that the traffic signal is changing from green to red, so that you can get through that busy intersection without delay. Never mind that some other driver is figuring on being the first one through it when it turns green for him and is in a big hurry, too. He’s going to jump right out there, realize that you’re not stopping, and slam on the brakes, and probably have someone behind him ram into his backside. And what about the poor kid on the bicycle who’s going to school? He may end up in the hospital, or the morgue, while his family goes through agonizing hell over his injuries or death, then sues the guy who hit him. It should be you they sue, not necessarily the other guy, for you were the one who initiated the whole thing to begin with. Of course, by now, you’re sitting safely in your office having a cup of coffee, thinking about how bad traffic was today.

     Go ahead, pass that slow truck going up that hill. Someone coming from the other direction will just have to watch out. Here comes somebody now. OK, cut in front of the truck, barely missing having an accident with that oncoming car that hit the ditch to avoid a head-on collision. That guy was dumb, going so fast down the hill. He could’ve hurt someone. Naturally, you didn’t look in your rear-view mirror and see him as his car burst into flames, killing everyone inside. You’re a safe driver, remember?

     Your driving record proves accidents.

     Let’s examine your car’s wake, however. Well, there was the accident you caused when you changed lanes suddenly, but that was the other guy’s accident. OK, there was the one you were nearly involved in when you went through that intersection at the last second just as the light changed from yellow to red. Oh yes, that was still someone else’s fault; never mind the grieving parents. And how about that entire family you wasted by exercising poor judgement when passing that truck on the hill?

Now...I’ll ask you again...are YOU a safe driver?

Back to Top