Am I a risk taker?

Posted on September 15th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Tailgating

Am I a risk taker? If so, is that always a bad thing? After all, astute risk takers in business grow their business and do well for themselves. So, is there such a thing as a smart risk taker when it comes to driving? At any time of the day, driving can be risky. At any moment another driver may drift toward you while they pass you or you pass them. Another driver may miss seeing the red light or stop sign and enter a junction at the same time you enter it on a green light…

There are many factors we need to consider when driving – pedestrians and cyclists, not to mention weather and road conditions. But with all of these ‘risks’ which we have to deal with while driving, are we able to reduce them?

I have been reading about the techniques of Canadian driving guru Scott Marshall, who explains his techniques for teaching risk perception to students. “I start out the topic in class by asking if anyone would take me up on the offer of tossing a crunched up paper ball into the container I have at the front of the room, which is usually a wastepaper basket. I tell them if they put up money, they can win more money; usually 10 to 1 odds.

“Once I have my ‘victim’, I reach into that container and pull out a small cup and tell them that’s the container I was referring to. The normal reaction of my student is they don’t want to attempt the toss any longer. They’ve realized their risk of losing their money and made the proper choice of declining.

“If only drivers on the road could make educated choices to reduce their risk of crashing. Almost every day we witness drivers driving too fast for conditions. If conditions are not ideal, why would you want to drive at the speed limit? Whether the road conditions reduce your traction or if visibility reduces your ability to see far enough ahead of you, it’s time to slow down. Speed limits are set for ideal conditions. If the conditions are not ideal, drop the speed.”

We like to think we have a lot in common with Scott, through reading his weekly safer driving column, and we know that one of his pet hates is tailgating. “Do drivers who follow so closely realise what risk they are creating?” he asks. “By the time they realise the driver ahead of them is braking hard, they won’t have enough time to stop without hitting them in the rear. That increases the risk of vehicle damage, personal injury to the driver and passengers of each vehicle. If that’s the case, why do it?”

Drivers who weave in and out of traffic create a risk as well. Because there’s so much going on with the vehicles they’re passing, any slight change of the flow can create a collision. These drivers who weave are usually in a hurry, but the result of their weaving simply gets them to the red light sooner. If that’s the case, why weave?”

These are just a few of the risks we see each day. It’s time to think of our actions before we do them. So I ask myself again, am I a risk taker? Are you a risk taker? If we can find fault in the speeds we choose, the following distances we use or the efforts we may employ to gain a few yards on others, then now is the time to reconsider and reduce the risks we pose to ourselves and others.