General George S. Patton is attributed with saying “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” I took some serious liberties with that quote and transformed it into “knowing something is great, but doing something is better.” But I whole heartedly agree that doing it good [sic] today is better than doing it perfect next week.
On that note, we’re going to cover off on some basic (in my opinion) and well known (I think) tips for being better drivers. My inspiration is the closing line from a very touching safety video recently produced by the LeasePlan Marketing department. It shows a father walking into his house to greet his daughters while the narrator states, “because the last trip of the day is the most important.” How true. As a dad of two girls myself, this really hit home. But all the other trips between the first and the last of the day are equally important to get to that last trip. Let’s get to it.
Important tip number 1: Always start your trip in drive
Or stated another way: never begin a trip in reverse. I first got this tip many years ago from a gentleman whose life passion was influencing drivers to be safer. We have lost touch but I would bet my last dollar he is still passing on this knowledge to anyone that he shares a car with. And the data says that many drivers simply aren’t listening. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA), there are at least half a million backing accidents of some type every year in the United States. Ironically enough, two of the top five incident descriptions in LeasePlan’s data is hitting stationary objects and reversing into adverse parties. It’s a simple change that can easily become a habit. And don’t forget to pass it on.
Important tip number 2: Put the phone, book, hairbrush, food, etc. away
I often put this tip into the “no duh” category, like buckling your seat and not drinking and driving. Yet I’m continually amazed at how many vehicles I encounter driving erratically only to pull beside them and see a phone in their hands. I’m not going to bore you with stats or stories. I will stress though that it’s not just about holding and manipulating a device. There are many distractions that are finding their way into our vehicles. I know we all still do it sometimes but if I need to convince you that driving distracted is bad, I doubt you’re really interested in this blog, sorry for the harshness.
Important tip number 3: Drive defensively
I was fortunate that relatively early in my driving career, I took a professional course that taught you how to drive defensively. While they taught me what a vehicle can (and cannot) do, they also taught me to anticipate other drivers’ actions to avoid incidents and collisions. While it’s not a fool-proof method, being aware of your surroundings and other drivers enables you to anticipate that previously “unexpected” lane change, pulling out into traffic or the always scary turning across incoming traffic.
I lost track long ago of how many crashes this has kept me out of, even though they would not have been – technically – my fault. In LeasePlan’s own incident data, we have seen a year over year decrease in incidents per million miles, yet we’re seeing year over year increases in preventable incidents. Imagine the impact we could make if we get that trend going the other direction.
Important tip number 4: Chill out
I get it, you’re busy. So am I and so is everyone else. But unless you have a legit emergency, relax, chill out and leave yourself plenty of time to get to your destination without having to drive like a racecar driver to get there. Is it really worth your impatience hurting yourself or someone else? Okay, I’m officially off my soap box.
If you’d like to watch the video I referenced earlier, please click here. I know it sounds sappy but every time I watch it I want to be a better driver and, in turn, a better father as I’ll pass these tips along to my daughters (many years from now when they start driving). Let me know what you think.
And if you would like more information on safety, check out our new eBook on data-driven safety.
About the author
Kristofer Bush serves as vice president, product management for LeasePlan USA and has been with the organization for more than 19 years. He recently took on this new assignment with a focus on product management. His team is responsible for the development of products such as Safety, Connected Vehicles and client portal tools like the MyLeasePlan driver app. While he believes that he is an excellent driver, many of the tools that LeasePlan provides their clients’ drivers have proven to him that he still has a lot of room for improvement.