What Makes a Good Driver?
What do we mean by a good driver? Are good drivers those who have a strong self-belief in their ability, always adhering to the mantra of maximum safe progress, place technical ability at the top of the driving pyramid and who doubt their personal self-worth whenever they fluff up a sustained gear change? Or is it technical mastery along with the requirement of belonging to an advanced driving organisation? Perhaps good drivers are those who have never had an accident or do not speed? Or maybe none of the above.
The reality is that driving is seen very much as a means to an end for many of us. A way of getting from A to B. Many drivers will never have taken any driver training since passing their driving test. How many drivers think about their last drive, what they did well or could do better? In reality, how many of us are actually bothered about our standard of driving as long as we don’t have an accident or get caught speeding?
So let’s explode the myths of advanced driving. You do not have to make maximum progress at every opportunity or create G Forces pushing you into the back of your seat as you accelerate up to the speed limit. You do not need to be able to change from 5th to 3rd gear without a little jolt or be able to drive with a pint glass of water on your lap without spilling it! You certainly do not need to have been driving for years or take an advanced driving test. Having just passed your driving test does not mean you are not a good driver. Also, having years of experience does not necessarily mean you are a good driver.
So what is a good driver? What is an advanced driver?
Learning to make the car go, stop and turn are all key skills which need to be mastered. To pass your driving test you will have had to demonstrate these skills. However, if driving is only skills based, why are there are so many people killed or seriously injured on our roads every year? Also, consider the number of damage only incidents and near misses every day which are never reported. After all, everyone with a licence should be able to go, stop and turn their vehicle. Perhaps there is more to driving?
A high level of mastery may be desirable and there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be the smoothest driver, wanting to make maximum progress or pass an advanced driving test. These are goals which are personal to us and to which we can choose to work towards in the pursuit of ‘driving perfection’. However, have you ever thought about how your personality, thoughts, feelings, moods, beliefs and attitudes affect the way you drive?
For example, if you are thinking about developing your driving or you are already working towards an advanced driving test then this may in itself tell you something about your personality, attitudes and beliefs. Wanting to be good at something gives us a goal, a purpose and meaning.
How do you take your driving to a higher level? Perhaps by developing self-awareness and reflection?
What did you do well during your last drive? What was not so good? What would you do differently, how and why? Then more practice, self-evaluation and the cycle goes on.
So what is a good driver? Yes being able to go, stop and turn the vehicle is important. However, a good driver is aware of how their personality, state of mind, mood, attitudes, beliefs and pressures of life can affect the way they drive. They are aware of the potential consequences of the choices they make whilst behind the wheel and do whatever they can to manage this risk by not driving when they are angry or had an hours sleep. Planning their journey and leaving extra time. Not allowing themselves to get distracted by thinking about work tasks, meetings or taking hands free calls, or the argument they have just had. Learning from their driving experiences, recognising they have weakness and doing what they can to be safer drivers.
Good drivers = driving skills + self-awareness