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Trust your fellow drivers — you have no other choice!

October 20, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

Question! Do you trust the other drivers on the road to drive safely? Many would answer "no" to this question, offering something like "I don't trust any other driver; that's why I drive defensively!" This attitude might be further reinforced by taking one of the many Driver Improvement Courses, or a Defensive Driver Program.

But, think about your day to day driving. How many intersections do you pass through each day? The flow of traffic in every intersection is controlled by either a traffic light or a stop sign. When drivers proceed through an intersection with a green light, or where the intersecting street or road has a stop sign, they are doing so with the expectation that drivers facing a red light or stop sign will obey it, and indeed stop. For sure, a good driver will take a quick glance to see if anyone is obviously running the red light or stop sign, but the reality is that we just cannot take enough precautions to avoid a collision if other drivers don't obey the signs and signals every time we come to an intersection.

Here's another example. We all drive on two lane roads where the state speed limit is 55 mph, complete with curves, hills, and other features which complicate safe driving. On these two lane roads, we pass oncoming vehicles at a distance of no more than four or five feet apart at closing speeds of 110 mph, assuming each driver is going the legal 55 mph. Now do you still believe you don't trust the other driver?

Every day, every trip we take, even if it is only a short distance, we MUST trust other drivers - there is no other choice. And, for the most part, this works, as even drivers that violate vehicle and traffic laws make some attempt at doing so in a somewhat safe manner. No one knowingly, on purpose, tries to get involved in a crash. But crashes happen every day in every part of the world. Why?

There are far too many reasons why vehicles crash. Drivers speed, drive aggressively, drive distracted, follow too closely, drive drowsy, and violate the traffic laws, all with the attitude that even though most know they are doing something unsafe they feel they are capable of still controlling the vehicle safely, until they can't, and the crash takes place.

So, even though we may say we don't trust other drivers, we must, and hope that should a situation occur that makes a crash inevitable, we can do something to avoid it. No matter how we cut it, we still must trust other drivers - and, guess what? They must also trust us.

In next week's article, I will ask you to work at becoming the best driver you can be. If you do that, I will be able to really trust your ability to drive safely. Right now I have a hard time doing so.

For more articles on traffic law and safety, go to the traffic safety board's web site at: and click on "Traffic Safety Board" under departments then look for Did You Know articles under "services."



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