Maybe you just finished up driver’s ed and are happily finding yourself behind the wheel, or perhaps you’ve recently caused an accident and had to do a bit of traffic school. No matter what, there’s no denying that online driver’s ed or online traffic school is sure to make you a better driver. It will teach you or refresh you on the important rules of driving and staying safe while practice defensive driving. And with any luck, you will remain a safe driver for the rest of your life, revisit your lessons from your driver’s education course, and never need to take online traffic school again.
It’s a sobering reality that cars and driving are inherently dangerous. In 2014, there were nearly 30,000 fatal car crashes, resulting in over 30,000 deaths. Driver’s ed and traffic school never try to beat around the bush with how quickly driving can turn into a bad situation, and it’s always a positive thing to hear about driver’s who have committed themselves to driving in the safest way possible.
With this in mind, it is then even more alarming to get into a car with an unsafe driver. You may have never noticed their bad behaviors before, but now that you’ve completed your online driver’s ed or traffic school, they’re mistakes and dangerous habits are unbelievably apparent. They turn without using their signals. They don’t come to complete stops. They speed. They get angry and cut off other drivers. They text while driving. Whether it’s just one of these or a combination of a few, it can feel rather unsettling to drive with someone who doesn’t seem to completely understand how dangerous driving truly is.
How do you approach someone about their bad driving habits? It might feel a little uncomfortable, especially if this person is a good friend, but remember that your life is on the line. It only takes one small mistake to end up with some serious consequences. If you feel compelled to talk to someone about improving their driving, here are a few suggestions to make things go smoothly.
If this is a person who honestly cares about you, then they will care that they’re making you nervous with their driving. Let them know that you feel rather uncomfortable when they drive too fast or text while on the highway, and see how they react.
They may simply not realize they’re doing something that bothers you, and being told that will hopefully help them to see the negative impact of their bad driving. Gently remind them if you find them doing it again, trying to help them break the habit. If the person reacts unreasonably and simply continues to drive the way they normally do without listening to your pleas, then you should try to avoid riding with this person. If they truly cared about your well-being, they would want you to feel comfortable and safe.
As the passenger, you’re able to help the driver with certain things they would normally be tasked with handling by themselves. Offer to text for them, to adjust the air conditioning temperature, or to look up directions somewhere. Chances are, they’re simply driving the way they normally do when they’re by themselves and don’t want to bother you with these small tasks. Instead, let them know you’re able to help with anything so that they can keep their focus on the road. It will make their driving experience much more pleasant and yours much safer!
If this person’s driving habits not only bother you but many other people, it may be time to intervene. This is a much more intense approach and can sometimes feel like an attack, so make sure it comes entirely from a place of love and care for the driver. Allow everyone to express their concerns about the driver’s habits and state that they want him or her to be a safer driver for everyone involved. Additionally, offer to help in whatever ways you can. The driver might genuinely need reminders when driving to not do certain bad behaviors, and if you and everyone involved in the intervention can agree to put in the effort, you can help your friend become a better driver together.
It might not be as convenient, but again: your life is on the line. You should never feel trapped in a car with someone who is driving recklessly. It doesn’t matter if it’s your parent, spouse, sibling, significant other, or friend—if they’re not putting your safety first, you can find a ride with someone who will.
Let this person know you are cutting them off and will no longer be riding with them. Obviously, do not have this conversation while they are driving; instead, wait until the car is parked and you can approach them face-to-face. Clearly explain that you’ve expressed your anxiety before and feel like they are not trying to make a change at all and you’d prefer to ride with a safe driver.
Additionally, if this person truly cares about you, they’ll be quite sad to learn their behavior has caused you to avoid riding with them. A good family member or loved one will try to improve their driving and be more careful on the road. Someone who laughs at your concerns, ignores your comments, or gets angry at you for pointing their imperfections out is not a good person to ride with at all.
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