You don’t race, so stop driving like there’s a trophy at your destination
There are no trophies waiting for you when you reach your destination. No cash prizes, no leaderboards with your name on them. You beat beige camry to the next highway exit? Congratulations, I guess. Whether you’re traveling for work, groceries, Home Depot, or Walmart, whether you arrive at 4:00 or 4:05 probably won’t matter. At all.
However, as we all descend on these US highways and roads, the drivers – at least those in the cities I’ve lived and worked in, like Detroit, Phoenix, Seattle and now it’s Columbus – seems to value America’s roads like they make up a great lap.
Everyone edits as if they were drafting in the final round of a major NASCAR race. They turn in and out of their lanes and into the narrowest gaps as if they were Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen swap positions on a F1 circuit with header on line. And often, they fall.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationin the past 20 years speed has been a contributing factor in about a third of motor vehicle crashes. The driving patterns mentioned at the beginning of this article – swerving, erratic lane changes, illegal passing – were factors in 56% of fatal auto crashes. Sometimes it was the killer who was the aggressor, sometimes the driver himself angered the aggressor, and sadly, other times it was an innocent bystander.
A study of AAA Fund found that 9 out of 10 respondents agreed that aggressive drivers are a “somewhat” or “very serious” threat to their personal safety. However, many of those drivers also admitted in the same survey to excessive driving.
I’m not going to type this while standing on a soapbox of my own. I freely admit that I have sometimes fallen into this group of drivers AAA or NHTSA learn would be described as “aggressive.” Did I exceed the speed limit 15 miles per hour? Sure. Did I accelerate to pass a yellow light? Yes, that happened. I even sped up when I saw someone behind me pass ahead at what I call unsafe speed before shifting into the rear right lane to pass slower-moving traffic in the lane. left? Guilty as charged.
Even as I admit some degree of hypocrisy, I will add that, in the fourth decade of my life here on this spinning rock I call home, know that I am being active. to settle down. I’ve never been a particularly aggressive driver, but these days I’ve become quite comfortable circling the speed limit and letting other drivers go their merry way. I like to wait my turn to pass; When I see a yellow light, I am ready to slow down to stop. When I see someone following me, I try to find another lane to enter.
Do not misunderstand me. I like fast cars, whether they run on combustion or electronics. I grew up on a steady diet of high octane fuel and muscle cars. My family has a classic gasoline-powered beast in our barn, from Pontiac GTOs and Trans Ams will be removed Jeep car. We also have slow cars, though I’ll tell you it’s fun to drive a slow car, like a classic Volkswagen Beetle droptop I’ve learned to drive, at its relatively low limits.
I also ride motorcycle. There’s been a long time, really. My first all-terrain vehicle was a KTM 125 has been tuned to within an inch of its small piston life. I must have honed that cylinder and changed the pistons and rings at least three times every summer – I don’t know of any other speed other than the open throttle.
Now, I’m a geek, and I’ve basically been since I was born. I love driving. I especially enjoy driving fast, on straight roads, on undulating asphalt, even on a loose, messy patch of mud. If I could find a nice, suitable stretch of road to enjoy a fun car, I would travel hours to get there. There are some brilliant stretches of road in America that seem designed for people who love to drive. Go out and enjoy them. Just do so safely. And for the sake of kindness, don’t drive like an idiot on the highway that leads you to your destination.
I didn’t have access to high-end sports sedans and luxury coupes until I entered the automotive industry through the words on the screen, but now that I have, I realize that the only real way to get it right and safely push any car to its limit is on a track.
And that’s the solution I’m going to come up with to help prevent extreme driving on public roads. Take it to the track. Learn the limits of your vehicle, whatever that vehicle may be. I realize that this suggestion is not a silver bullet that will end the carnage, a real scourge on our roads. It’s not even likely to cause a serious dent in the high blood pressure that millions of Americans feel behind the wheel every day. But it can help even a few of us escape aggression in the right environment.
There might be a good racetrack pretty close to where you live. I recommend starting small. Consider a Regional Driving School. Try autocross. Get out and use your car, whatever it may be. You may find yourself with some natural talents. At least, hopefully you’ve found a great new hobby to enjoy.
If you’re lucky, maybe one day there will actually be a trophy waiting for you when you cross the finish line.