What Every Driver Ought to Know But Doesn’t

Last Saturday was tough; sunny skies with highs in the low 70’s. I wanted to be out on the trail with my horse and husband. But no, instead I found myself an hour away from home in a little place called Town Creek Alabama in driving school. I must admit, on the drive home I was thinking, while scanning for speed limit signs, this had been a total waste of time.

Over the next few days many of the driving lessons I had learned in the class began to run through my mind again and again. Only this time each fact came coupled with a valuable life lesson. The instructors first words in particular kept ringing through, “Driving is the most difficult task you will ever do.” He kept repeating this over and over so it stuck.

But why? The answer lies at the root of what it takes to live a simple rich life. That’s right the most difficult act leads to a simple rich life. I said simple, not easy.

Here I’ll share a few facts that led me to the ultimate reason why driving is the most difficult thing you will ever do:

  1. The law does not give right of way, rather it requires a driver to yield the right of way to another. How interesting, while our culture submerges us in individual rights, where everything is a moral right, complete with a barrage of entitlements, our traffic laws do not give rights at all. No, quite the opposite, they require drivers to yield the right to proceed to others. Talk about turning your entitlement mentality on its head. Now, what if all our laws carried this “you first” mentality? What a different world it would be.
  2. The majority of alcohol related accidents happen between 12 midnight and 6:00AM. Yes mom, you were right, not much good happens after midnight.
  3. In spite of overwhelming evidence you are better off in a crash when wearing a seat belt. Yet, many do not. As class members who admitted to not wearing a seat belt gave their reasons I gleaned two life lessons. First, no matter how clear the warning, some people will refuse to heed solid advice. Second, some people fail to act on what is in their best interest because, well, they can’t. What you ask? They can’t put a seat belt on? Why would anyone not be able to put a seat belt on? The sheepish man at the rear of the class explained, “I know I should wear my seat belt, but I can’t. My best buddy in Iraq died because he was wearing a seat belt.” “Enough said,” replied the instructor. I made a note to myself never to judge actions of others, no matter how senseless they seem.
  4. Some people don’t care. One guy was in driving school for the 7th time. Another girl was attempting to sleep through the entire class. As the instructor said, “Some people just like to drive fast.” Lesson learned, some people are not interested in improving themselves, in doing right, or in keeping themselves from hurting others. This is out of my control. All I can do is wear my seat belt, and not assume others will do the right thing while driving.
  5. Ignorance is no excuse for violating the law; neither is your desire to drive fast. I as well as several others in the class failed to recognize the school zone signs on a four lane divided highway. Even so, there we sat.
  6. When on a road with a median the opposing traffic is not required to stop for a funeral procession. You may however, pull over out of courtesy. In the south most do pull over. This is another lesson to take to heart. Sometimes a person should show some common courtesy and respect for others, even when no one demands or calls for such. A simple act, but a powerful one for those traveling on the other side. Indeed, “slowing down” to consider those on the “other side” of most everything in life is a good idea. Grief is no exception.
  7. Road rage is rarely the result of a single act. In most all cases there are several incidents and circumstances building on each other before the situation escalates to a road rage scenario. This is true in most all instances of rage, behind the wheel or not. Understanding this principle can help in diffusing a loved one, coworker, or even a stranger. Knowing the rage has little to do with you or what you did, but is rather a culmination of prior happenings, can keep you from jumping in on the fight. Recognizing this tendency in yourself can keep you from lighting off on someone you care for due to no fault of their own.

The driving class summed up using these three words: Recognize, Understand, Act. A life of thoughtfulness and respect for others is summed up in the same; a life that is simple yet rich.

So, why is driving the most difficult task we do in life?  What is the most important driving lesson ever? Here is my conclusion:

“Driving is the most difficult thing we do in life. Why? Because it forces us to take others into consideration; their choices, desires, weaknesses, and their faults. No other task in life demands such selflessness for the sake of your own safety.” –Jamie Cearley, PhD

Thank you officer.

I wish I had known this at 15. I figure the next best is to write about it and tell others so they can share with their friends and young drivers to make the roads and the world a safer place.
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