I've often asked myself what makes my driving safer than others? Or more bluntly, what makes me a better driver than other people?
Do I pay attention more?
Probably. But many drivers keep their eyes on the road just as much as myself.
Do I have more incentive to drive safe?
Yes. I'm not going to lie a good part of my income comes from teaching people how to drive.
Do I understand the laws more than other drivers?
Yes. But not all problem scenarios are addressed by a law. Sometimes the laws fail because they only address part of a problem. The majority of drivers understand the laws that count.
I've observed these major concepts...
1. I'm not a speed demon. I plan out my day giving myself extra time to get somewhere. In other words I strive to be early - not just on time. And if I am running late I don't drive faster. Driving faster can create a bad habit that could come back to haunt me. Also not being a speed demon allows me to scan for potential problems sooner. Basically the faster you drive the faster your eyes and brain have to work. And when this happens you will start prioritizing potential problems based upon what is closest to you or most important to you (like getting a speeding ticket). Speeding also makes you more likely to tailgait. So speeding can also hurt your spacing and reaction time. The faster you go the more likely people will not see you. In other words they could pull out right in front of you causing many different types of collisions. The faster you drive, or rather being in a hurry, the more likely you are to take unnecessary risks. There are many individuals who would still be alive today if they took a few more seconds to make a good decision. Stopping before all sidewalks is a simple technique that takes a few extra seconds but could dramatically increase bicycle and pedestrian safety - but your not going to do it if your in a hurry.
2. I don't minimize risk. Some people say they don't want to live in fear and paranoia. I don't. I simply acknowledge that strange crazy things can happen on the road. And for the majority of these instances, just a few simple strategies will help. Increasing following distance is a simple technique that can help in thousands of different situations. Many people will happily tell you that it is stressful driving next to an 18-wheeler yet see no problem driving next to a small car - I see no difference.
3. My driving techniques are proven. I rarely look in my rear view mirror allowing me more time to look in the areas to sides and front. I adjust my lane position based upon potential problems and blind spots. I use my turn signals a lot to help others see me better. I run my headlights during the day (not the whimpier day time running lights) - this also helps others see me better. I adjust my spacing as to maximize my space between me and potential problems including cars. This is extremely helpful because sometimes you won't have time to adjust your spacing at the last second. It is also helpful if you get distracted you'll still have space to allow you to make a good decision.
I assume everyone on the road is in a hurry and distracted.