There are drivers. And then there are drivers. For some it comes naturally. Others— often brilliant people — are clueless behind the wheel of a vehicle, their minds seem to wander off and be someplace else.
Driving is a Practice
Practice is defined as:
: to do something again and again in order to become better at it, customarily, or habitually
: to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life, to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient
: to live according to the customs and teachings of (a religion)
Driving is all of these things to the professional driver who works at getting better, on a daily basis, according to ‘customs and teachings.’
Not everyone is cut out to be a good driver. Pundits lament the high levels of driver turnover (usually 100%), but turnover is one way the industry screens its not-so-good from its run-of-the-mill drivers.
The Extraordinary Driver
But what distinguishes the ordinary driver from the extraordinary driver? How does a driver reach the apex of driving?
Personally, in my opinion as a driver trainer, safety advocate and, more recently, my work in loss control, I believe there are a number ways to becoming an expert driver (no matter the size of vehicle), but, paradoxically, no one way. For example, I am a firm believer in training — but I believe that training can be useless if a driver is placed in a rogue safety culture that permits or encourages senseless risk-taking.
Look at a photo of any major crash . . . the names on the side of the vehicles are almost always the same . . . some of the top fleets in the U.S., with some of the most carefully screened and trained drivers in the history of surface transportation.
Professional drivers go beyond training, and even beyond experience. Professional drivers employ advanced driving techniques. The word advanced here does not mean complex or complicated. Advanced can mean “ahead in development or progress,” and another one of its nuances is “not yet generally accepted.” The word technique means “a way of carrying out a particular task.”
Here are some Advanced Driving Techniques I see used by professional drivers (in no particular order, and not a comprehensive list) . . .
- Early mistake recovery
- Extreme space cushion management
- In a hurry, but not a rush
- Maximal conflict avoidance
- Relaxed concentration
- Stay within the limits and bounds
- 24/7/365 mindset
- Self-learner/life-long learner
- They keep score
- Zero accidents/incidents/cargo loss
Some of the above may be considered more of a trait or the now more popular word “factor,” than perhaps a technique, but these are some of the things I see that contribute to a professional driver’s way of driving.
Researchers say truly autonomous, self-driving vehicles may be decades away. There will be a need for truly professional drivers for years to come. We should not accept anything less than professional drivers.
Thank you for reading this.