In Canada, we hear a lot of complaints about nervous drivers. From a social standpoint, it’s often encouraged to feel more confident while driving. However, drivers with an inflated confidence level are also feared by others on the road. How do we find the fine line between “confident in a good way” and “confident in a bad way”? Does one even exist?
Are Nervous Drivers More Dangerous?
First, let’s look at whether nervous drivers are actually more dangerous than overconfident ones. People who are afraid to drive at the speed limit are generally considered to be dangerous when blocking traffic. This is reflected by the BC “Keep Right, Let Others Pass” law that came into effect in 2015 to combat erratic driving.
However, when we look at the collision numbers, 27% of all traffic fatalities are a result of driving too fast— not too slowly. Driving too fast may cause a huge number of collisions, but accidents caused by needlessly slow-moving vehicles are still preventable and should be avoided.
From another perspective, if someone is afraid to drive, don’t they generally stay home? Do they often feel pressured to drive even when they feel unsafe? Perhaps an additional hazard here is a decrease in quality of life caused by driving anxiety. If someone is stranded for half the year for fear of driving, this could mean missing important events. It’s clear that having a little more confidence can be beneficial for some drivers.
The Line Between Confident and Overconfident
We’ve established that having a little confidence is good, but when does it cross the line between confident and overconfident? Aggressive driving is common in overconfident drivers, and surveys have shown that 1 in 3 Canadians suffer from road rage each month. The best way to gauge whether you are an overconfident driver is, to be honest with yourself. Really think about how you’re driving. Ask yourself:
– Do you honestly believe that you’re the best driver on the road at all times? Statistically speaking, that seems unlikely. We are all human, we all have good days and bad days.
– Do you think of other cars on the road as obstacles, or as other people like you who are just trying to get to their destination safely?
Being a Defensive Driver
Most driving schools will tell you that the best attitude to have while driving is that of a Defensive Driver. Being sure of your driving skills but driving in such a way that you are protecting yourself and others around you is best. Remember, regardless of anyone’s knowledge, skill, experience or training, there are some days that we are better drivers than we are on other days. This is a common thought process among professional drivers and the safest drivers in the world.
Do you worry that you may be an over-confident or under-confident driver? Try taking an online course from Fleet Safety International. Our online programs can give you the tools and advice to help you become a safe defensive driver.