Are You a High-Risk Driver?
By Awake! correspondent in Japan
“WE KNOW the types that are likely to have accidents,” stated Hiroyasu Ohtsuka, Chief of Traffic Safety at Japan’s National Institute of Police Science. “Even so, we don’t refuse to give them a driver’s license, but we want people to recognize their personality faults and work on them.”
High-risk drivers do not usually perceive themselves as such. But experts recognize six types of personality faults that can easily manifest themselves when one gets behind the steering wheel. As you consider each type, try to reflect on yourself, and see how safe a driver you are.
The Social Misfits
Among the high-risk types are the socially maladjusted, those who have problems in relating to others. They are:
The Self-Centered This is the person who insists on doing everything his own way. Sitting behind the wheel, he thinks that he is ‘king of the road.’ He feels free to set his own pace, ignore any rules he considers superfluous, and show off whenever he likes. He forgets that he must share the road with all the other drivers. Acting arbitrarily and taking liberties, he causes accidents because he fails to respond to the constantly changing circumstances on the road and adapt to them.
The Uncooperative An uncooperative driver has little feeling for other people, nor does he understand how they think and feel. Because of his difficulty in getting along with people, he is inclined to avoid them. This is reflected in poor manners on the road and discourtesy toward other drivers—both high-risk factors. For some, learning how to interact with people can take years, and this is one reason for the high accident rate among youths.
The Aggressive One sign of an aggressive driver, according to the book Driving Instruction According to Aptitude, is “the absolute refusal to give way to others when the driver believes he has the right of priority. He will not overlook the misdemeanors of other drivers or pedestrians, and this leads to shouting, interruption of others’ actions, . . . and horn blowing . . . in protecting his own rights to the bitter end.” Even imagined wrongs can provoke him. If he is also quick-tempered, his driving will often exceed the bounds of common sense.
The Emotional Misfits
Then there are those with emotional problems. These include:
The Unstable Emotional extremes characterize the unstable person. He has bouts of lightheartedness, excitement, and depression. If he drives while depressed, he will miss seeing dangers, and his reactions may be too slow for safe driving. If he drives while experiencing an emotional high, he may be reckless. Warnings given to him in this mood are liable to ignite a display of rebelliousness. He may recognize only his depression as abnormal.
The Overly Nervous Frequently this is a quiet type who gets wrapped up in his own thoughts, worrying about everything. When driving, his mind is “cluttered with non-driving information,” so that he is “more likely to miss important information or to misinterpret it,” observed researchers Richard E. Mayer and John R. Treat in a study of high-risk drivers. A nervous driver may go to pieces even in situations that are not critical, such as when a truck pulls up alongside. He expects the worst.
The Impulsive This type acts quickly. Instead of taking the time to ascertain the facts and make an accurate judgment, he tends to rely on instinct. The time spent waiting for traffic lights and pedestrians seems much longer to him than it does to an ordinary person. So he gets frustrated and quickly loses patience. His failure to render a sound judgment before acting makes him a dangerous driver.
Do you see yourself in any of these types? What is your reaction when some inconsiderate driver tries your patience? If the shoe fits, as the saying goes, by all means wear it. For your own safety, heed the warning, and work on the weaknesses. You need to be in control of your emotions and attitudes to be a good driver.
The Well-Adjusted Driver
But what makes a good driver? In Awake! interviews, top researchers from Japan’s police stressed consideration for others, thinking before acting, ability to grasp the entire situation, wisdom to judge accurately, discernment, mildness, self-control, and acting in a way that protects other road users.
Similarly, a report from Osaka Prefectural University describes good drivers as “having a high degree of emotional stability; the mental process of perceptive judgment works faster than their bodily reactions; their judgment is accurate; they can control their emotions.” Does this description fit you?
For thousands of years, the Bible has been teaching people how to develop wisdom, understanding, and discernment. (Proverbs 2:1-6) It shows how imperfect humans can replace “wrath, anger, badness, abusive speech, and obscene talk” with “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” Yes, the Bible can even help you to be a better driver!—Colossians 3:8-10; Galatians 5:22, 23.