the daily doyle

Doyle’s Driving Lesson
May 30, 2011, 12:36 am
Filed under: General stuff

It was a dark and stormy night… I drove home safely. The End.

Now that is a good story. Perhaps not too exciting, but good. I have driven home, or other places, in many dark and stormy nights, as well as bright and sunny days, and always arrived safety.

I’m not bragging, or maybe I am, but I have an almost perfect driving record. I have been driving for just about 32 years. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? I would love to know how many miles I’ve driven but couldn’t even guess. I know for sure that I bought a new two-tone silver Ford Pickup with red velour seats (hey, it was the 80s) and drove it 187,000 miles, pretty much all by myself. Perhaps 1000 miles were driven by others. I’ve driven hundreds of rental cars thousands and thousands of miles. I’ve driven coast to coast in the USA. I’ve driven in Venezuela up to 3x the posted speed limit. I’ve driven on the left side of the road and the right side of the car in Grand Cayman and UK. I’ve owned approximately 17 Cars.

Maybe I know a few things about driving.

The first thing I learned about driving came from the local First Baptist minister in my home town. He said this while driving well over the posted speed limit on curvy mountain roads. “My plan is, get there before the accident happens.” –Reverend Jimmy Grayson, may he rest in peace

So there you go, drive faster and get there safe! Ok, no, that’s not my advice. But sometimes fast is good. I wish we could legally drive much faster on limit access highways. Like they do in Germany.

My first advice is pretty straightforward – be awake! Don’t drive if you’re too sleepy. Don’t drive if you’re intoxicated. And even, really, don’t drive if you’re upset. It’s just not worth it.

Second, leave a little extra space between you and the car in front. It astounds me that people will follow so closely. If the car in front stops unexpectedly, and sooner or later one will, you’re in trouble. Also, I see people all the time that will follow at a safe distance, and then when passing the car in front they will cut the corner and for a short period of time be maybe 3 feet from the car in front. This is very bad driving practice. Do you do it? Stop.

Third, safety is more important than going where you want to go. If you just realize that you are in the wrong place and you have to get over three lanes in the next 50 feet through heavy traffic to make that exit, don’t. Go somewhere wrong, stay safe. You’ll find your way there sooner or later.

Fourth, use GPS sparingly or not at all. There is a whole generation of drivers today who never go anywhere without the GPS running full time to tell them where to go. It’s bad. I’m sure you know these people. Even a simple trip has to be accompanied by the soothing voice saying “left turn in, pause, 2, pause, miles” and the annoyed “recalculating route”. GPS is a great tool. If you are lost it can get you un-lost really quickly. But don’t use it. If you rely on GPS, you will lose your own ability to navigate. Someday your GPS is going to fail and then what will you do? This is not even a matter of driving. Some folks use the GPS on their phone constantly to find out where they are walking! So use it when you need it but also sometimes use a map, old school, and keep your skills in practice.

Fifth, stop being such a victim. “He cut me off”. Well, so what, get over it. If it makes you feel better, go cut him off next time. Just don’t be such a whiner. Did he really do you any harm in cutting you off? Will you be one second late to roll call? He probably did you a favor, scared you a little and gave you a little shot of adrenaline. You’ll be a safer driver for the next 20 minutes. If somebody actually hits you, well, get as mad as you want. But for something trivial, forget it.

Sixth, be careful with left turns across traffic. A lot of accidents happen when drivers make unsafe left turns, usually turning into oncoming traffic. This is how a lot of motorcyclists die. Motorists don’t see them and turn left in from of the motorcycle. So be careful with that. And if you’re not going to cross, don’t creep into the lane, just stay out of the road completely until the road is clear, then go. Also, when you’re driving straight and coming up on somebody who might turn left, keep an eye on them and be ready to take evasive action, just in case.

Driving is really fun. It’s a one-of-a-kind feeling of freedom to hit the open road. So be smart about it, have fun and be safe.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

One of the basic tenets of good driving is this: Allow other people to predict your behavior. If you conduct your driving in agreement with the driving rules you agreed to when you got your license, other people will know what to expect from you. That’s actually the way the game works. Other kinds of driving belong offroad or at Daytona.

And you’re right about the left turns and motorcyclists. That’s how the woman died a couple of weeks ago at the accident scene I was assisting at. Left turn, complicated by the strange intersection at Drew and Missouri.

Comment by KarenH

That’s a brilliant point Karen about predictability. And I’m glad you understand about the left turns. Sorry to hear that you had that experience.

Comment by doylemills

Thanks, Doyle for all the good advice.

I like the point you made on relying on getting directions from a machine, rather than using your on ability to find your way. Good idea.


Comment by Mary Collins

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