During our lives, there are things that we become passionate about and, as a result, we dedicate a great deal of time and effort in order to become better, more efficient, and skilled at particular tasks. For example, you may want to master playing an instrument, you may want to learn a new language, you may want to learn a new skill such as woodworking, mechanics, gardening, painting, sculpting, or writing. When you become passionate about something, you don’t mind putting in the work to become proficient at it.
When a task is mastered, it becomes second nature. If you learn how to play a guitar, you don’t have to think about where to put your fingers on the fret board to play a chord; you just do it. When you master a second language, you don’t have to think about forming every word; it flows naturally.
Think about how great it would be if every driver became passionate about being safe when they are behind the wheel. If all drivers worked diligently and developed safe driving habits, this would become second nature for them. They wouldn’t have to think about maintaining a safe following distance or proper scanning techniques, and it would be effortless for them to pay attention to their driving. If every driver made the decision to put the work in, safe driving would come naturally. In fact, it would feel unnatural for them to drive in an unsafe manner.
Learning to play guitar, learning a new language, and learning woodworking are all admirable and worthwhile endeavors, but none of these will make as much of a difference in anyone’s life as becoming passionate about being safe when driving. Playing a guitar or building a coffee table will not save your life. Learning Spanish, French, or Latin will not help you arrive home safely every day.
Consider the startling recent injury and fatality statistics on our roads. In the U.S., crashes accounted for 42,915 fatalities in 2021. That equates to 118 lives lost every day. A life was lost every 12 minutes. 4.4 million people were injured in crashes. That means that every minute, 3,055 people were injured, and that equals 51 people being injured every second.
Losing a loved one to a crash is horribly tragic, and for many who are left behind, they never recover. They may learn how to cope, but they never get over it. When a person suffers serious life-altering injuries, quite often the responsibility for that person’s care falls on his or her loved ones. The weight of this burden is extreme. Drivers need to understand that the unsafe driving decisions that they make can lead to very severe consequences for them and for the people they love.
How bad does it have to get until drivers make the decision to stop talking and texting while driving and instead, pay attention? How bad does it have to get until every driver understands that driving while drunk or high is absolutely unacceptable? How bad does it have to get until drivers stop speeding and driving aggressively? What is it going to take? When will safe driving become the passion of our society?
It has to start somewhere, so why not have it start with you? Make an effort to be safe every time you drive. Have this become your goal and your passion. Put the work in and set the example. Then help members of your family, your community, and the organization you work for. Be the change-maker in your company. Help them understand how important this is and start building a safe driving culture. Have it permeate the entire organization. One life saved and one serious injury avoided is worth all of the effort.
To quote the Beatles, “You may say I’m a dreamer.” I truly and sincerely hope that I’m not the only one.
About the Author: Phil Moser serves as the director of customer development for Driving Dynamics, a Smith System company. As a former police officer trained in the field of vehicle crash reconstruction, Moser has investigated thousands of crashes and has seen the results when drivers make unsafe decisions. His passion for driver safety is understandable. For 40 years, Moser has worked assisting drivers, as well as fleet, safety, and risk managers with developing a passion for safety through coaching and motivational training programs.