It’s funny, I was together with the family this weekend and the conversation moved to the driving ability of my stepfather, who passed away in 2001. Everyone was talking about what a poor driver he was but I don’t really recall it that way. When I think of a poor driver I picture someone who’s been in quite a few accidents and always has their car in the shop.
My stepfather was a bad driver because of the way he drove. He was one of those guys who always drove with both feet; one on the gas, one on the break. It was almost like riding on a boat in that you would gun forward and then feel the application of the break. It was like a constant movement from one to the other and it could make you a little car sick, especially when you’re a kid stuck in the back seat.
It didn’t help that he was usually jabbering away on the car phone (think back to the mid to late 1980’s before we had mobile phones that fit into our pockets) from the moment he got into the car and he was almost always puffing on a cigar. This was the era before second hand smoke was a concern for people. It was not the most pleasurable experience.
Although driving with my stepfather wasn’t always a pleasant experience, I don’t recall him ever being in an accident. He rarely drove over the speed limit and I don’t ever remember being close to an accident with him. He would drive a ton because of his business (approximately 35,000 miles per year) and the cars were never in the shop. I never felt unsafe in the car with him; I just usually wanted to get out of the car to get some fresh air.
When I think of bad drivers, my brother comes to mind. He’s one of those guys that is an accident just waiting to happen. I’m not really sure how many accidents he’s been in, but there have been plenty of them. Here he is in a nutshell, my mom had just purchased a brand new minivan and he needed to borrow it for a few days because he was in between places and he needed to move his stuff around. He managed to somehow back into a concrete pole in spite of the fact that the car had a rear sensor/camera to show the drive exactly what’s behind them. He couldn’t figure out what all the beeping was as he got closer and closer to the pole he never saw.
On top of that, my brother has the worst sense of direction I’ve ever seen. He needs his GPS to get himself to the next town. It’s comical to see him struggle getting to places he’s been to countless times.
My cure for dealing with his poor driving is simple. I don’t let him take off with my kids in the car and I offer to drive every chance I get. I may not be the greatest driver but I like my odds a lot more when I drive instead of him.