The Art of Driving
Alan T. Sherman
Driving is a complex dangerous activity that involves many skills,
knowledge, responsibilities, adventure, and risks. The major elements
of driving are:
Sensing, signaling, reacting, accident avoidance.
Maps, directional awareness, reading and interpreting
road signs, recovery from wrong turns, trip planning.
Responsibility for ensuring car is in safe, legal,
and proper order. Carrying out and arranging for maintenance and
repairs. This element requires some knowledge of how cars work.
Routine inspection and maintenance. Trip preparation.
Responsibility for all passengers and their behavior and safety.
Know the driving laws of your state.
A car is a heavy, high-speed, dangerous weapon that can
cause serious damage to passengers, and to other cars, people,
and property. You need to be adequately insured, especially for
- Health and Alertness.
You cannot drive safely if you are tired,
ill, have poor vision or hearing, intoxicated, or distracted.
- Special Operational Skills.
Parallel parking, driving in reverse,
emergency braking, handling snow and ice, parking on a hill,
driving in rain or fog, driving at night, driving in the mountains,
defensive signaling, dealing with other drivers who act improperly.
- Courtesy of the Road.
Be aware, empathetic, courteous, and
respectful of others. Control your temper and emotions.
- Emergency Recovery.
What to do when things go wrong (accidents,
car breakdowns, getting lost, lockouts, flat tires
and blowouts, brake failure, being followed by a suspicious vehicle,
being stopped by a police officer, how to seek help).
Total cost of car ownership is expensive, and many people
underestimate the total cost. Owning a car can cost about $5000
per year (about $14/day, or $0.33/mile assuming 15000 miles/year).
This cost includes depreciation (~33%), repairs and maintenance (~33%),
other [insurance, gas, parking, tolls, accessories, parts] (~34%), and
less tangible costs such as time, inconvenience, downtime. Given these
facts, periodic rentals at $35/day can be an attractive alternative
to ownership for people who do not need a car frequently.
Judgment is the most crucial aspect of driving. Bad judgment
can kill and cause millions of dollars of damage. The reason so
many teenagers have accidents is that they have poor judgment: they
underestimate risk and they feel invincible. Safe drivers
are conservative, responsible, courteous, and defensive.
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