Why do bad driving habits exist?
By Omar C.
Some time ago, we covered the controversy surrounding who were the better drivers, women or men, and while we looked into what made both genders proficient at driving, the question remained.
Where do bad driving habits come from?
It all boils down to the culture behind driving, or rather the lack of it.
Most of the time, non-gearheads would be content with their driving skill being “sufficient”, and because the system for obtaining a license and its subsequent driving test is not as strict as some would like it to be, anyone can gather enough skill to pass the test and get a license.
People just don’t seem to care much about driving, and this is not a new thing, we cannot blame the dawn of the smartphone era for this. While phones and tech gizmos give distracted drivers yet another reason to take their eyes of the road, bad driving habits have existed since the inception of the automobile. With time, we have implemented rules, methods, and techniques to keep drivers and passengers safe, but the bad habits persist, and there seems to be no solution in sight.
Skills and mastery becoming less important in modern times is also part of this cultural landscape that spawns and feeds bad driving habits. Not only are the distractions plenty, they are also perceived as more important than the drive itself.
The people fail to learn properly from the beginning, don’t care to improve, and think that their driving is fine because they’re barely able to reach their destination.
This cocktail of lethargic apathy combined with disregard for their own lives makes for a very dangerous combination, one that usually results in accidents caused by drunk, distracted, or reckless driving.
How do we redeem ourselves?
We don’t value the joyful and rewarding experience that driving can be, and we don’t take any pride in improving our skills and mastering new techniques. The truth is, we should.
Only a cultural shift in the way we perceive cars can change the dire situation we are in, because no amount of laws and regulations will prevent people from being reckless, stupid, or indifferent.
Driving has to stop being just another part of a daily routine, a boring commute. It has to become something we enjoy, something we look forward to. Maybe we all need to tap into our inner car enthusiast, and rekindle the pleasure of wielding a car.
How should authorities change in order to eliminate bad driving habits?
Having stricter requirements for a license would be a start, but let’s take things a bit further.
In Japan, novice drivers are issued a special sticker for a certain period of time, this logo is wrongly associated with “JDM”, it actually is a way of signaling people that the driver is still learning, and has recently gotten their license. We can take a lesson or two from this policy. Novice drivers, for a 6 month period, should be required to have some sort of bright, easily identifiable sticker in their cars. This will make people around them extra cautious.
More importantly, we have to rid people of their fear of speed. That may sound counterproductive, since a slower driver must surely be a safer driver, right?
A safe driver keeps constant and predictable speed, merges into traffic without slowing people down, and knows when to go slow, and when to go fast. Good drivers are not afraid of speed, they understand how speed can be useful, and they respect speed, rather than just fear it.
Speed limits are not only there to stop you from going recklessly fast, they also serve the purpose of providing context on how fast you should be going.
In conclusion, driving skill is something we should be proud of, constantly improving it, becoming better, safer, more conscientious behind the wheel. And the question remains open for you, the reader.
What do you do about bad driving habits?