POWER OF DATA BLOG

Blind Trust

Changing Driver Behavior
Jun 13/2016 Published by:

Generally, experience is a good thing. However, in driving it can be a two-edged sword. Sure, experience is essential when it comes to successfully maneuvering a truck or overcoming challenging driving situations. Unfortunately, experience can also be a hindrance because it leads to complacency.

For instance, think back to your first few weeks of driving. Most likely, you were nervous and continually concerned about the traffic and other problems surrounding you. You didn’t take anything for granted; danger existed in all directions. You were constantly aware of everything going on around you. Unfortunately, for most of us, this concern and vigilance quickly eroded after a few months of driving without an incident. And, the more we drove without an incident, the more trusting we became.

What inevitably happens is that once we shift from expectations of mistakes by others to the assumption that others won’t make mistakes, we become more vulnerable.

Do you remember going to the circus and seeing the elephants parading – each one holding the tail of the elephant ahead as they walk? It works fine as long as the first elephant doesn’t stop suddenly and interrupt the flow. But, if the first elephant does stop, what happens? You’ve got a rear-end collision! Unfortunately, drivers aren’t much different – one driver just blindly following the other.

The next time you are stopped at a red light, watch the “pack” waiting for the light to change. Odds are that as soon as the light turns green, each vehicle will charge out immediately after the vehicle in front accelerates. Usually, nothing bad happens because there is no break in the flow. Unfortunately, at some point a problem inevitably occurs ahead – such as late crossing traffic or a tardy bicyclist. What happens? The lead vehicle needs to suddenly hit the brakes. What follows is a chain reaction of hard braking within the “pack” because none of the trailing vehicles considered this possibility. Unexpected hard braking is always dangerous – especially in a truck. It can lead to a load shift, cargo damage or worse yet, a rear-ender.

Or, what about the driver waiting at a driveway or cross street anxiously looking to turn onto the main street? How many times have you seen this driver get impatient and make a bad decision on when to pull out? Did it end in hard braking or vehicles swerving to miss each other? Hopefully, it wasn’t you involved in this type of incident. What constantly amazes me is how many drivers blindly trust this can’t happen to them. And, yet, they are taken by surprise each time someone pulls out in front of them and it does.

The problem is that this blind trust just gets worse the longer we get away with it. Despite the alarming number of incidents at intersections, most drivers don’t check left-right-left and blindly rely on a little piece of colored glass to protect them. Many drivers put too much trust in turn signals. They take other drivers’ turn signals at face value and pull out onto the roadway only to find the driver wasn’t turning after all.

It’s a numbers game. The more complacency sets in, the more we blindly trust other drivers. And the more we trust other drivers, the greater the chance something bad will happen. That’s the difference between the really good drivers and those piling up the collision statistics. The good driver understands that complacency and over-confidence is the enemy when behind the wheel and they work hard to defeat it. These drivers understand that they can’t get lazy about applying the fundamentals of safe driving and blindly trust other motorists will do the right thing. They know these fundamentals need to be constantly remembered and applied to their daily driving; otherwise, they won’t protect them when they’re needed the most.

Just like golf or tennis, driving is a skill that can be continually improved. Unfortunately, most motorists invest far more time and money to improve their golf game than they ever will to improve their driving. Not me. I can always take a mulligan if I spray a drive off the fairway. There is no mulligan with collisions.


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