My promise to be a better driver

Driver PledgeFirst of all let me say – I’m a good driver (yeah, we all think that.) I’m alert. I drive the speed limit (which sometimes drives my wife crazy.) I’ve only gotten 2 tickets in my life and the last one was over 7 years ago (it’s amazing what having kids does to you.)
I started riding a motorcycle this year and it has been a real eye opener to how many bad drivers there are out there. I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you.
On a motorcycle, you don’t have a big metal frame to protect you in case of an accident. In an accident you always lose. As a result, I’m much more alert and aware of what other drivers are doing. I try to be ready for worst case scenarios as I’m driving and give myself plenty of space between me and other vehicles.

As I’m paying closer attention to driver behavior, I have found that about 85% of the time someone was driving like an idiot poorly, they were distracted by talking on their mobile phone. I have decided to reduce my cell phone usage while driving even further. I already don’t use my phone much when I’m driving so it won’t be too big of a stretch. An officer in traffic school (over 10 years ago) reminded me that when you’re driving a car your primary responsibility is driving, everything else is secondary. Pull over if you need to yell at your child pick up that toy for your child. Don’t think you can turn around and do it while you’re driving because you’re a good driver.

Drunk drivers have always angered me. I’d think to myself, “How can they think it’s a good idea to get behind the wheel while they’re drunk?” But I’ve come to better understand one of their justifications. It goes something like this, “I’m such a good driver that I can handle it.” The same justification goes for those who talk on cell phones while driving. Many studies have shown that talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as drunk driving (here’s one.) By the way, 80% of drivers think they’re above average – hmmm, you do the math on that.

Here is my pledge to drive with fewer distractions:

  1. I will not talk on my phone while driving unless I’m doing it hands-free and even then I’ll use discretion.
  2. I will never compose or send text messages while driving.
  3. I will not even look at my phone unless the driving situation is low risk (i.e. no nearby cars, not residential area, not approaching intersections, …)

Obviously, I will take exception to these rules in case of an emergency. Me running late for an appointment is not an emergency.

What this means to me:

  • I’m going to be a safer driver on the road.
  • I might be yelling/gesturing/honking at you if you’re driving like an idiot and have a phone up to your ear.
  • My chances of making it home alive have increased dramatically.

What this means to you:

  • If you call me and I’m driving, I may not answer. Leave a message or send me a text message, it’s nothing personal.
  • One more driver out there is more aware of what’s going on and less likey to be in an accident with you.
  • I challenge you to do the same and remove or reduce any distractions you have while driving.

Thanks for letting me rant a little and I hope you take a moment to think about how you can be a safer driver.

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