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Do You Drive With the Idea That People's Lives Are at Risk

Thursday, September 28, 2017

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Anthony Cruz

Whether you consider yourself a safe driver or you know that you're driving could use some improvement, it always comes down to making a personal choice. We all make choices with our driving and each choice has positive and negative results.

As a defensive driving instructor, I have the opportunity to meet hundreds of people who share their daily driving experiences, frustrations and bad habits.  When asked, most know National Safety Council's six most unsafe driving behaviors that cause or contribute to fatal collisions.

  1. Improper speed
  2. Violating right of way
  3. Driving left of center
  4. Turning improperly
  5. Passing improperly
  6. Following too closely

Yet, many have the illusion of control and they overestimate their ability to control events. So they send out that text or have that one drink, believing bad things only happen to other people.  What I have learned is the majority of those who attend my defensive driving class are willing to hear about ways to avoid collisions, eager to adopt change and willing to create personal policies with their driving behaviors regarding texting and driving or driving without a seat belt.  However, there is that percentage of people who think they will be the only one affected if they are killed in an accident and feel that using personal protective devices and speeding is their choice, and making the choice should be left up to the individual and not the government.  

People think they will be the only affected if they are killed in an accident. I really wish this were true, but sadly it's not. Part of my job duties include monitoring radio traffic at the law enforcement center, so I hear first-hand the number of resources that are used during an accident. It can be quite expensive and that is only the financial part of the equation. The emotional toll it takes on families can be lifelong. The first questions I ask before I start each class and the questions we should always ask ourselves when we get behind the wheel are:

  • How would my family be affected if I were killed or injured in a traffic collision?
  • What if one of the important people in my life were killed or injured in a traffic collision?
  • What if the accident was preventable?

If you answer these questions honestly, you will realize it's not just about you.  Driving is a full-time job and needs your full attention, because your life and the life of those you love depend on it.

Article written by Anthony Cruz on the KDOT Blog. Cruz has been with Finney County Emergency Management for three years, and is a Kansas Certified Emergency Manager.  He has been teaching defensive driving three years, twice a month and issued more than 400 certificates.

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