EDITORIAL: Patience is a virtue behind the wheel

Planning ahead can give you that extra time without any need ever to rush.

With the crashes seen lately on the region’s highways and arterial roads, and even the fender benders on the commute and in parking lots, it’s clear something is happening.

We wonder if drivers’ attention spans are diminished this time of year or if some more scientific reason exists for what seems to be an increased number of traffic incidents. For certain, at this time of year many of us are anxious to get to our destinations, whether it be work or shopping, heading out for holidays or travelling to the homes of friends or relatives for an evening or weekend barbecue or gathering.

Regardless of the journey’s end, it’s worth taking a little extra time to plan ahead for the travel, whether it be the route you’re taking, the time you depart or a combination of the two. Both can pose challenges with more people on the roads, and create unnecessary stress that often leads to aggressive and unsafe driving actions.

We’ve all seen people passing when it’s unsafe, driving at overly high speeds or tailgating, to name a few indiscretions. If no crash or mishap occurs as a result of such behaviours, the people victimized by such aggressive driving can count themselves lucky. But that’s not always the case. As the popular bumper sticker states, “Failure to plan on your part does not dictate an emergency on my part.” How true. Demonstrating patience is not necessarily taught by driving schools or listed in any handbook, but it’s a critically important aspect of defensive driving.

Preventing all examples of dangerous driving on the highway or lower-speed roads is impossible, so we have to ensure we’re prepared for the possibility of encountering bad drivers.

Keep an eye on the road ahead, including the traffic directly in front of you, and scan side to side, in case you’re going to miss the traffic light. Anticipating what other drivers are going to do, or could do, will go a long ways toward ensuring the safety of yourself and any passengers you might have in the vehicle.

At the very least, remember to breathe when behind the wheel. You’ll get there eventually, even without driving like a knucklehead.