POWER OF DATA BLOG

Habits

Changing Driver Behavior
Jun 13/2016 Published by:

What is a habit? The simple definition is: “Something that one is used to doing; part of a routine; a behavior pattern.”

I watched “The Big C” on Showtime the other night, and one of the characters mentioned that it takes 28 days to break a bad habit. I started thinking that this made no sense. Sure, there are bad habits, good habits and some in between; after all, habits define, in part, the person we are. But, break a bad habit in 28 days? Hmmm… Can a smoker give up cigarettes in 28 days? Not going to happen! Can I change some of my driving habits in 28 days? Perhaps.

I started looking for simple bad habits I could tackle. After all, a habit is simply a matter of routine. I noticed many drivers around me had found a way to save money on the purchase of their new vehicles by forgoing the option of turn signals. As I grumbled about it, my spouse pointed out that I had failed to signal at the last turn. I thought about this. At that last turn, there had been no one behind me and no one in front. Had it seemed like a wasted effort? A savings of time? If so, this meant I had several patterns to one element in my signaling turn habit. What changes could I do to make me a better driver?

I set out to establish a change in the multiples habit. I decided I would signal every time – whether in a hurry – or especially when it wasn’t really needed. In short, just as I had done it for my on-the-road driving test. I focused, and consciously did, this for four weeks straight – without fail. Then. I asked my wife to try to note any time I failed, and gave it no further thought. She did not find one instance. Next, I focused on my “California Stop.” You know, that quick slowing (as I glanced for oncoming traffic) and roll-on-through the intersection, drivers have gotten in the habit of doing. For four weeks I focused on stopping before the stop line, long enough to spell s-t-o-p in my head, and then started up again. I did this in the car, on the bike and on my roller blades. It did not matter, even when I was in the desert and no other car was around for miles. Even when my cycling friends would roll through a stop and laugh at me, I stopped, spelled s-t-o-p and then started up again. Now, they follow me. Now, others smile or clap. Me, I do not think of anything but driving my vehicle.

Am I a better driver? (We’re all perfect drivers, right?) Am I a more efficient driver? Am I a more courteous driver? Perhaps. But what I really have become is a driver with more processing power or attention to focus on driving – on knowing what is going on around me at all times. A driver who is rarely cutoff or surprised, as I am fully aware of everything around me. I am driving. I arrive in the same time frame. Best of all? I am relaxed as I drive.

Now, I think I will try this on another area of habit. Will you?

###

Michael Richter has been with DriveCam for five years and is a Senior Technical Support Engineer. In his job, he has seen repeated poor driving habits and the results of those habits. He admits to not being a perfect driver, but works at becoming one as a result of what he’s seen firsthand. Every vehicle in his extended family has a DriveCam video event recorder, with the primary intent of improving every family member’s driving.


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