Motorists need driverís ed mentality Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 July 2017
By Stephen Standifird
Managing editor
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

My middle son recently received his driving permit in the mail. That little card essentially gives him the right to get behind the wheel of an automobile and learn how to drive.

 The fact that he is driving is not something that should scare me. My son is a very responsible young man. Besides, I have control over the conditions in which he drives, how long he drives and where we go.

 What does scare me is that I have no control over the other drivers on the road. I don’t know if they are as safe or courteous behind the wheel as I am trying to teach my son to be.

 Now, I’m not saying I am the kind of driver who will win safe driving awards (if any really existed), but I am happy to admit that I have been accident free for the entire duration of having a driver’s license.

 Back when I was on active duty as a Marine, I had a supplemental duty as a certified Smith System safe-driving instructor for the recruiters in my region.  

 It has been a long time since I last taught the basic skills, but the Smith System is a course that emphasizes five keys to safe, defensive driving that includes lessons like leaving space between cars, checking all intersections, keeping your eyes moving, and watching the road ahead.

 I am using that system to teach him to be a defensive driver who is aware of what is going on around him. But I can’t teach the rest of the drivers what being a defensive driver is all about.

 If I could teach safe driving here at Fort Leonard Wood like I did in the Marine Corps, I would emphasize these key points.

 Speed limits are maximum speeds, not recommendations. Speeding saves you only a few seconds when driving on streets with traffic lights and stop signs, such as we have on post.

 Weather does, in fact, affect your driving. Snow and ice, and even a little rain, can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Slow down, and give yourself some extra room between cars.

 Pay attention to your surroundings. Plan ahead for turns, merging and stopping. My biggest pet peeve is when cars try to merge during the last second before the road or lane ends. You know who you are.

 Along with paying attention; avoid distractions. Put down that cell phone; put away the double cheeseburger, turn down your radio and focus on driving.

 Avoid tailgating. Also, know how close cars are behind you before applying your brakes. Both tips can help us all avoid a fender bender or two.

 If we all could try to be a little more courteous on the road, maybe we could suppress some of the road rage that runs rampant in and around military installations.

 Helping my son learn to drive has reminded me of what I felt like as a teenager when I was first learning to drive.  

 It came with fear, respect for the vehicle, a sense of caution and the feeling of freedom.

 Maybe we could all use a reminder of what it was like at 16 when we were first learning how to drive.

 Who knows, maybe the car next to you will be a scared kid with his learning permit looking at you to set a good-driving example.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 02 August 2017 )