Don't Let This Become Your Default Setting
Dan is a friend that I occasionally get together with to discuss road safety. He's a commercial trucker and driving instructor with a lot of experience behind the wheel. The last time that we had lunch together he made a comment that struck me and I promised to borrow for a column topic. "Don't let that become your default setting" made a lot of sense to me.
When we start to drive he said, we try to do everything properly all the time. As we gain experience and become more comfortable with the complex task of driving we occasionally slip away from the ideal. We may drive a little faster, stop a little further into the intersection or take other chances that we have come to think of as minor in nature. If we don't pay attention to this tendency and conciously decide to return to what is proper we run the risk of making this our "default setting."
In traffic law enforcement dealing with some driver's default settings often earned an angry response. They had done whatever behaviour caught my attention so many times that it was now normal to them, carried little or no perceived risk and should have been beneath notice. From my point of view, I had seen some pretty horrendous consequences from the behaviour and knew that if I didn't try to return them to the proper settings eventually I would be investigating another serious collision.
No driver will ever be perfect, regardless of how much we try to do the right thing whenever we are driving. I do think that we owe it to the traffic that we share the highways with to try our best so that we can all be safe. It would be nice if we came with a reset button, but we don't. It's up to us to look at our driving in our own rearview mirror and make sure that our default settings are the correct ones.