Drive Safe … Are These Empty Words?

You’ve just spent the holidays with your family from out of town and they’re getting ready to hit the road to return home.  As they start to drive away you wave and say, “Drive safe”.  Why do we say these words?  Do we say this thinking our words will actually have a positive effect on the way they’ll drive on the way home or has this phrase just become the polite thing to say to express our love and concern.

When someone says to us “Drive Safe”, do we conscientiously process a driving plan different from our normal driving patterns in order to drive safer?  I don’t think we do.  I think the normal response and/or thought process is to politely wave as if to say thank you for their concern and drive away believing that we already know how to drive safe and we will do so.

So let’s talk about safety.  Over the last 10 years, 392,603 men, women, and children were killed in traffic accidents along with over 3 million injuries (per year)…..and that’s just in the U.S alone.  Of those traffic injuries and deaths, 16% are attributable to teenage drivers while 84% are attributable to adult drivers.  Yes, the adult drivers are in the majority.

There are 2 major aspects to safe driving:

1.  Skill

2.  Behavior

Both are important to safe driving but telling someone to “Drive Safe” in reality is only a weak attempt at addressing the behavior aspect of driving and since most drivers already believe they know how to safely drive, the words basically fall on deaf ears.

Try something new.  When you want your words to have a real impact, try addressing the “skill” side of the equation.  Example:  Hey Uncle Joe, on your way home please don’t be in a hurry.  Keep an extra-large following distance so you can control the traffic behind you.  Don’t drive in other vehicle’s blind spots and please don’t make lane changes into other vehicle’s blind spots that are two lanes over. Also, when you stop to get snacks at the market, make sure the kids know that the little white lights on the back of cars in the parking lot tell them the car is in reverse and getting ready to back up so they should never walk behind those cars. Hey Aunt Mable, I know you’re upset that Uncle Joe didn’t get you that 5 carat diamond pendant for Christmas but please wait until after you get home to discuss it, I don’t want Uncle Joe to be emotionally distracted from his driving.  Apply these SKILLS and you will all get home safe.

Now which method do you think would more effective in preventing accidents?

John Cullington

P.S.  If you’d like to know how Uncle Joe can control traffic by keeping an extra-large space in front of him, pick up my book, “The Cullington Driving Concepts…Empowering Parents To Teach Crash-Proof Driving” or sign up for my 5 Star Video Driver Training Program to make both you and your teenage driver , 5 Star Drivers.  Both are available at  

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