I Believe in Defensive Driving

Claire - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on October 18, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I Believe in Defensive Driving

I believe in defensive driving.

This is when being independent begins. This one day marks the start of your journey down the swerved path of adulthood. Turning sixteen and getting your driver’s license makes a huge impact on everyone. The freedom, the newness, the thrill, all make the ability to drive so exciting. No longer do you have to impatiently wait for your parents to pick you up or not be able to go out with your friends because no one can drive you.

Although with this new freedom comes new responsibilities, a need for precaution and complete concentration. There are a few things every new driver should learn that they do not teach in driver’s ed. My mom would constantly stress this as she prepared me for the wild road ahead. No matter how good of a driver you are, there are always crazy people out there you need to try to look out for.

We have come a long way from telegraphs and black and white TVs. Now you can talk on your cell phone anywhere you go and watch TV in your car in full color. Technology poses some dangers especially for drivers. It is so easy to get distracted in your car. Often you see people multi-tasking with their stereo blasting, holding a cell phone with one hand, while putting on make-up with the other. These people may think they have complete control of the wheel, but they do not. You never know who is sitting in that other driver’s seat. It is necessary to drive defensively just in case that other driver is the one that is not paying attention. It is important to always assume that the other person is going to make a stupid driving move go through a light or change lanes without a signal, catching you completely off guard.

Now this may seem like common sense. It is easy to naively say that every driver is going to be perfect and that you have nothing to worry about, but a recent experience caused me to reconsider. I was leading my friend out to lunch him following slowly behind me. I was forced to stop at red light unaware of exactly where he was. I heard a loud high screech, as someone slammed on their brakes. I lifted my eyes to look in the rearview mirror to see what could have caused this awful sound. Behind me I could see my friend’s car skidding across the road now the car a complete wreck. A man pulling out of a gas station was not paying attention and had pulled out onto the road ramming into his friends car. The one split second that the man was looking down caused him to not pay attention and hit my friend’s car. It could have been me, I thought to myself. If I had been behind my friend that could have been me the man hit.

There is nothing you can do about the other drivers out on the road. What I take away from this experience is that I need to be totally alert when I drive. I need to expect the unexpected. I need to drive with caution. I need to try and anticipate the actions of other people on the road. I need to drive defensively.