Don't let bad driving habits become your default setting

Bad habits behind the wheel

Dan is a friend who I occasionally get together with to discuss road safety.

He's a commercial trucker and a driving instructor with a lot of experience behind the wheel. The last time we had lunch together, he made a comment that struck me and I promised to use it for a column.

"Don't let that become your default setting" made a lot of sense to me.

When we start to drive, he said, we try to do everything properly all the time. As we gain experience and become more comfortable with the complex task of driving, we occasionally slip away from the ideal.

We may drive a little faster, stop a little further into the intersection or take other chances we come to think of as minor in nature. But, if we don't pay attention to this tendency and consciously decide to return to what is proper, we run the risk of making this our "default setting."

In traffic law enforcement, dealing with some drivers’ default settings often earns an angry response. They did whatever behaviour caught my attention so many times, it was now normal to them and it carried little or no perceived risk. It should have been beneath notice.

From my point of view, I have seen some pretty horrendous consequences from the behaviour and I knew that if I don't try to return them to the proper “settings,” eventually I will be investigating another serious collision.

No driver will ever be perfect, regardless of how much we try to do the right thing when we are driving but I think we owe it to the traffic we share the highways with to try our best so that we can all be safe.

It would be nice if we came with a reset button, but we don't. It's up to us to look at our driving in our own rear view mirrors and make sure our default settings are the correct ones.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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