Jacob Zelinsky on Bad Driving

A car crash survivor shares his thoughts on how to be a safer driver.

Jacob Zelinsky on Bad Driving
Photo by Alec Attie / Unsplash

By Jacob Zelinsky

Opinion Columnist. Class of 2024

About Opinion
Opinion articles are pieces written by staff members of The Current. They serve to stimulate ideas and provoke discussion of topics and issues relevant to the MSMHS community. These articles provide a public forum for the personal opinions of the author and do not represent the voice of The Current overall.

In high school (particularly among juniors and seniors), many of us are drivers or are starting to drive. As most of us also know — and may even admit — driving can be a dangerous endeavor.

However, as much as this may be acknowledged, it isn’t always put into practice. We often lose focus and drive more recklessly as we get more comfortable with driving, and this is when it's the most dangerous. I’d be the first to acknowledge that I am one of those people; in fact, being that person is what got me into a fairly gnarly car accident at the end of junior year. Out of concern for my fellow student drivers, I’d like to explain some of the lessons I’ve learned from being a causal driver.

Learning to judge the speed of other cars is something crucial which, if I knew at the time, probably would have allowed me to avoid my accident.

First and foremost, we need to acknowledge that just about everyone on the road is distracted to some degree. Personally speaking, this is unrelated to who's in the car and the use of cell phones or other devices. Humans just have a certain incapacity to be fully aware, which is something that you should keep in mind while you're driving.

Just because you’re breaking or turning doesn’t mean that the other people on the road will notice. You have to be defensive and willing to accommodate all the unattentive or just plain unsavory people on the road. As noted, this is most important when turning, switching lanes, or doing some other maneuver; taking the extra time to look may save you some money, a broken limb or two, or even your life.

time lapse photo of road
Photo by Javier García / Unsplash

Another typical behavior that any of us are likely guilty of is speeding. Now, because this is a school publication I will officially advocate for everyone to follow the speed limit. More importantly though, I think it's important to be mindful of one's own speed in relation to the terrain and other cars on the road. Make sure that you always have time to stop if another vehicle just pops out of nowhere. Also, learning to judge the speed of other cars is something crucial which, if I knew at the time, probably would have allowed me to avoid my accident.

What I’m getting at here is that avoiding bad driving is really an exercise in mindfulness. Being aware of what a multi-ton vehicle traveling at high speeds can do is probably the primary skill that will keep you from getting in an accident. Any other tip on good driving ultimately stems from being mindful of your surroundings and your own vehicle. Driving’s useful, driving’s fun, but being hit at 50 miles an hour isn’t. Stay safe out there.

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