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Mojave Rattlesnake - Crotalus scutulatus

A den full of snakes

Whether you handle the larger and heavier rigs we drive as RVers or drive an ordinary passenger vehicle, these are just gentle reminders that when we slide behind the wheel, we are entering . . .

. . . a den full of snakes!

So, what is a good driver and, more importantly, do you fit the description? Many of us associate good driving with the ability to “handle” a vehicle.

Auto racing pros will tell you that driving too fast, cornering too fast, following too close and other similar behavior just waste your gas, wear out your brakes and have no place on public roadways. If you want to do that stuff, take it to the track.

Yes, driving does require some degree of physical skill and coordination but, barring a limiting disability, this can be mastered without much effort. But, there are three key characteristics which set a good driver apart from those of us who just know how to drive:

Superior social skills

Driving is a social task. We are interacting with other people (that’s what social means). However when driving, unlike in other social situations, we are interacting with total strangers about whom we know nothing plus we are in motion, in close quarters and under life-threatening circumstances.

We know nothing about their ages, their attitudes, their physical or emotional conditions, their driving skills or anything else about them. It’s like walking blindfolded into a den full of deadly snakes and hoping that none will bite you.

A good driver anticipates the worst, assumes that others will make mistakes and adjusts accordingly. One sadly lacking social skill in today’s aggressive driving is basic courtesy. A good driver is courteous and cooperative. Is this you?

The ability to make the right decisions

Driving is a mental task, a complicated decision-making task. Everything is changing in relation to everything else, all the time. It’s a dynamic environment. A good driver learns to think in complicated multi-dimensional terms. The experts tell us it’s not uncommon for us to make as many as 20 to 25 separate, conscious decisions within the space of a city block.

Many are routine, but some – such as when approaching a busy, signal controlled intersection for example – will be critical to your safety and to the safety of others. And, there are no second chances.

A good driver consciously develops an organized thinking and responding process that he or she uses to identify potential hazards; predict possible conflicts; decide what actions are appropriate; and then execute the correct response as required, and often the whole process must be accomplished in milliseconds. Is this you?

A mature and responsible attitude

A good driver knows, understands and obeys traffic laws and rules of the road. Is this you? Attitude is everything in driving! If you have a defiant attitude toward traffic laws and routinely ignore them you are a danger to yourself and others and certainly not mature enough to be behind the wheel.

If you answered “yes” to each of the above, then there may be hope for you. If not, we need to talk some more. Stay tuned.

About 30,000 of us will die this year in traffic crashes in the USA and 3 million or so will be seriously injured. The tragic part of this is that most of this carnage is preventable.

The next time you turn the ignition key, say to yourself, “Today I will drive as if my life depends on it.” Because it does!

About Robert Sears

Robert Sears is a professional driving instructor who once owned a company that trained more than 70,000 people to drive. Today he is an author working on several non-fiction books and writing traffic safety articles for consumer and special interest publications. He is a 30-year motorhome owner who has logged several hundred thousand miles of RV driving experience.

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