Driving: understanding the ‘oops’ factor

Posted on February 19th, 2013 by James Luckhurst

blog picMaking a mistake (and we all do) helps us know what to do and what not to do next time. You don’t always know what to do. However, sometimes you just have to weigh your options and can eventually figure it out. We enjoyed reading an account from Scott Marshall, director of training for Young Drivers of Canada. While Scott was approaching a junction in icy weather recently, he noticed a driver approaching the intersection from the right after he had already stopped. This driver was approaching quickly with icy roads so  Scott decided to see what the other driver would do before he entered the intersection. “After all, I only have the right of way if someone gives it to me,” says Scott. “The driver on my right finally stopped but only after he slid completely into the junction. Why would you drive fast and brake late when the roads were icy and snowy?”

After the driver stopped and looked around, Scott decided to continue through the intersection and up the road. The anxious driver continued immediately after Scott went through the intersection and was following closely behind him. “Seriously? What didn’t they get about the slippery road conditions? Didn’t the fact they had slid through the crosswalk the last time they attempted to stop teach them anything?” Each time Scott had to stop at a stop sign, he ended up having to brake early so it was a gradual stop and not a somewhat harsh stop. He needed to control the driver behind him because this driver couldn’t or wouldn’t learn from his previous mistake of sliding on a slippery road surface.

“What would it take to teach this driver? Is there any hope for them? For all the times I’ve taught new drivers, I’ve tried to use their experiences to make them think about counter measures to their actions,” adds Scott. “For example, if they slid slightly approaching a stop position on a slippery road, I ask them what they need to do differently to avoid making that same mistake again. I also ask them what could happen if they slide like that again.

“For the most part, my students hit the nail on the head. They explained that if they slowed late and slid into a junction next time they could hit another vehicle, or worse, a pedestrian. Did the driver who I saw ever think about those consequences? I doubt it.”

Let’s take a leaf out of Scott’s wise book. When we make a mistake, let’s give some thought what you should do next time to avoid making that mistake again. Let’s think about what you should do to keep your vehicle under control. “Think about the positives,” urges Scott. “If you keep thinking about the mistakes, you’ll just reinforce the mistakes since that’s what you’re thinking about. Driving takes thought – positive thoughts so you can actually do something positive about your mistakes. This way, you can actually learn from them.”