For years now, instead of saying “Drive safely!” when people I care about are getting into their cars, I tell them, “Watch out for the crazies!”
I know, it sounds a little weird. But not really. What I’m referring to are the “other guys” on the highway who could be experiencing serious personal issues while driving their 2,000-pound fast-moving machines. For example, they may be:
- Under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
- Emotionally upset
- Distracted by phones, conversation, day-dreams, etc.
- Impatient and in a hurry
- Poorly skilled at driving
- Generally aggressive or careless
- Old enough to have vision and reaction problems
- NASCAR wannabes who enjoy risk-taking
- Foreigners who don’t understand our laws
- People who lack driving experience
- Irresponsible or inconsiderate people
What are the chances your teen will encounter one of these individuals on the highway? The scary thing is that you can’t tell. All you see are the cars; you don’t have any way of knowing what’s going on with the other drivers. Still, this is a fairly long list (and could be longer), and it’s probably a mistake to assume that all the “other guys” are like you or your teen: competent, careful, focused, safe drivers.
Here’s a story from the real world. My sister-in-law was recently t-boned by a pickup truck that had gone through a red light. Fortunately, she didn’t die from the accident. She’s out of the hospital, recuperating from her injuries and may need followup surgery for neck and back issues. And oh, by the way, the genius who hit her had no license, no registration, and no insurance.
A friend of mine told me about a safe-driving trick he recently learned. When he’s stopped at an intersection and sees a car coming that is signalling a turn, he doesn’t trust that the car will actually turn. He waits for the car to slow down and he can see the wheels actually turn before he enters the roadway.
Whenever I’m behind the wheel, I always respect that the journey is dangerous, never fun or routine. I’ve been driving for 60 years, so at this point I’m like the spooky character on X-Files, who advises Fox Mulder: “Trust no one.”
This is a good guideline for any driver who wants to arrive safely. It could save your teen’s life. The next time your young driver heads out the front door, offer this warning: “Watch out for the crazies!”