Defensive Driving as a Part of Self-Defense

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Maybe it’s just the area in which I live… and maybe it’s not; but people seem to be driving even worse than ever. In the last few days, I’ve ben cut off or nearly sideswiped enough times that I actually lost count. I don’t know if it’s because people are texting while driving or they just think that they have a right to treat everyone else as an obstacle on the road.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Mexico, where people drive differently than they do here in the United States. I’m not going to say they drive worse; but there are some definite differences. We’re worse in some ways and they’re worse in others. When you get the two together, you get the worst of both cultures.

These encounters on the road led me back to the days of teaching my children to drive. I don’t know how it is in the state you live in, but in my state, parents are allowed to teach their children to drive. Not only that, but we can test them and sign off on them knowing how to drive, rather than having a state official test them.

The one thing that I hammered into my children, while teaching them to drive was, “Always assume the other driver is going to do something stupid.” That’s not to say that the other drivers on the road will always do something stupid or that the other drivers are stupid. Rather, it’s the idea that any of us can do something stupid while behind the wheel of a car, myself included. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, which probably left other drivers around me thinking that I’m too stupid to have a driver’s license.

Let’s face it; we’re all human and therefore prone to making mistakes. Some of those are because we aren’t paying as much attention to what we are supposed to be doing and some are just because we missed something. Regardless of the reason behind the mistake, we all make them and we all make them while driving too.

When we assume that the other driver is going to do something stupid, it affects how we drive. Specifically, it affects how we look at the other vehicles around us and what we expect to see. If we expect that the other drivers will always do the right thing, eventually we’ll be hit by one of those other drivers. But if we assume that they’re going to do something stupid, when they do make a mistake, we’ll see it coming, giving ourselves the time needed to react.

Let me give you one of the simplest possible examples. You’re driving on a country road, approaching an intersection. There’s a car on the crossroads, who will reach the intersection at about the same time as you will. They have a stop sign and you don’t. Most people would just breeze through the intersection in this case, assuming that the other driver will stop. But what if they don’t? What if foliage prevents them from seeing that sign? What if they’re a local and used to running that sign, because hardly anyone drives down those roads? What if they just plain make a mistake? Then you’re in an accident that you could have avoided.

My attitude is that if I can do something to avoid an accident, I want to do it, even if it’s the other driver’s responsibility. Being able to say that they were the one in the wrong isn’t going to help me come up with the money to pay the deductible on my insurance. Avoiding them, even if I have to give up the right of way to do so, might also avoid having to pay that deductible.

Really, what I’m talking about here, is driving in condition yellow, ready to slip into condition orange at any moment. That awareness helps you to avoid accidents, just like walking around in a shopping mall in condition yellow will help you avoid a criminal intent on armed robbery. It is our preparation for what can and may happen, which allows us to defend ourselves from our fellow man.

Sometimes, we can become so focused on the bad things that bad guys might do, that we forget about the bad things that good people might do. Maybe those things aren’t done with malicious forethought, but in the case of an auto accident, they can do us just as much harm. Taking the necessary precautions to ensure that we’re safe from other drivers makes just as much sense as taking care to load our guns, so that we’re ready for an armed encounter. It’s just one more thing to keep us safe, like keeping our powder dry and our survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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