May Column Winner

Defensive driving has taken on all-new meaning

LINDA CRAUN, The Hennessey Clipper

I had imagined myself weaving between yellow safety cones and coming to abrupt stops on command at the defensive driving class.
Soon, I’d be an assured driver, I told myself.
I was going to learn the secrets of defensive driving.
As I pulled in at my destination, I was a tad concerned.
Clean windows are surely necessary in any kind of driving and mine weren’t.
I shouldn’t have worried.
There was no driving involved.
What a disappointment.
I’d looked forward to zipping around an obstacle course.
A discount on my insurance payments spurred my interest in the course, and my prompt arrival.
Some of the faces that greeted me were less than smiling.
Others were clearly there because they wanted to be.
Our instructor said his computer had quit, which would cut our class time down by a couple of hours. No one hissed or booed.
We started with a true or false test indicative of our driving habits. I had no checks under the always true column.
My score ran slightly higher on the sometimes true and less in the never true column.
When answered truthfully, I was just barely an average driver according to the chart. It was a tough test.
Still, who can say they never make eye contact with a passenger or adjust the radio or climate controls while driving?
Do you notice the sights and scenery while driving? Sometimes, true, or never?
Ever have episodes of aggressive driving that’s caused by other drivers exhibiting the same?
Do you think you can take drugs, including legally, doctor-prescribed prescriptions and still drive safely?
Have you ever eaten or drank while driving? Have you combed your hair, shaved, applied makeup or flossed your teeth?
There were 23 questions on the test. They ranged from vehicle maintenance, driving drowsy, texting or e-mailing, to not wearing your seat belt or reprimanding your children while driving.
After those questions we mostly knew what we shouldn’t do. It was time to focus on what we should do: Keep your eyes on the road, think ahead, watch the traffic, use your mirrors, curtail speed as needed.
We were told that even when we’re convinced we’re driving safely, there are situations that can sneak up on us.
One happened to me shortly after I took the course.
I was driving home from a visit with my grandsons. Next thing I knew I was on the wrong side of the highway and headed for the ditch.
According to our instructor, one of the most frequent causes of accidents today is driving fatigued. Only, I don’t burn the candle at both ends. I get eight-nine hours of sleep a night.
I didn’t even realize I was drowsy, but I knew what to do next. I pulled off the road, walked around, did a few jumping jacks, and generally woke myself up.
Back on the road again, I turned on the air-conditioner, turned up the radio and went straight home.
Whether you’re first time drivers or old fogies who have outlasted their driver ed rules, a defensive driver course is worthwhile. Regardless of whether you’re young, or old enough to know better, that course is an advantage.
Three year’s discount on my insurance payments was nearly as exciting as if I’d driven the course.

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