So called experts would have you believe that it’s safer to drive on familiar roads, that is, roads that you know. Ka-Ka, as I call it. There is no such thing as a familiar road! It simply doesn’t exist. Conditions change day by day, hour by hour and moment by moment. Yesterday it was open, today it’s closed.
When you drive down a “familiar” city street, how do you “know” if a car is going to pull out, or if a pedestrian is about to cross or if a giant pothole developed overnight? When you drive on a highway how do you “know” if one lane is blocked due to a crash or construction? The simple answer is that you don’t, unless you pay close attention to your driving. And, that is the problem. Drivers who “think” they know the road they’re on don’t pay attention. This is why they feel they can drive distracted. They engage in activities that have nothing to do with driving, e.g., talk on a cell phone, take care of personal grooming, fiddle with entertainment controls, and a whole host of other misguided behaviors.
The simple truth is that driving requires your undivided attention, every block or mile you travel. Ask yourself, how is it possible that a driver who drives the same road to work every day, twice a day, five days a week, winds up in a collision? You would think that they would be able to navigate those roads with their eyes closed. And that’s exactly what they do! Driving distracted is like driving with your eyes closed because at that moment you see nothing that pertains to your driving.
Ever wonder why blind people can’t get driving licenses? It’s because “observation” is the name of the game. People you talk to will probably tell you “speed” is the name of the game. More Ka-Ka! Anybody can press a gas pedal and make the car go fast. That really takes no skill. The truly good driver is one who is observant, watchful and attentive.
I personally witnessed an outrageous example of what I’m writing about. If any of you are familiar with the toll lanes on the Throggs Neck Bridge you know that for a long time cash lanes were in the middle and EZ Pass lanes were on both sides. One fine day, they decided to change the pattern. EZ Pass lanes were all on the left and all cash lanes were on the right. Big, yellow signs were posted alerting drivers to the change. Well, as I was approaching the EZ Pass toll , I saw a cart traveling laterally across all the lanes. The car was going from the EZ Pass lanes to the cash lanes. Can you figure why? It should be obvious! The driver never saw the signs and was totally unaware of the change. Can you imagine the hazard that was created by this car traveling across the lanes? All because the driver “knew” the road and never saw the warning signs.
I say again, there is no such thing as a familiar road. Driving is a full time job whether it be in your neighborhood or traveling cross-country! Use your eyes, pay attention. Don’t become complacent and think you “know” the road. It’s simply not possible.