In German,the only word that translates to intersection is...
The NASCAR race Sunday (6/13) up in Michigan was another good one.Congratulations to Denny Hamlin, the #11 team, and Joe Gibbs Racing. After the race I saw a shot of a freeway somewhere with cars running four lanes wide—maybe in Chicago and it reminded me of what drivers need to think about in heavy traffic. In Sunday’s race the cars were running three and four wide at times and bumper to bumper—in the very real sense. As they hurtle around the track at 100 to 200 MPH, each driver is acutely aware of who and what is happening around them. They can generally trust their fellow drivers to not do anything stupid or out of the ordinary.
But, as we drive to vacations spots or weekend getaways, can we be as trustful of the other drivers on the road? The answer here is an emphatic NO! The reason, of course, is that while every driver sitting behind a steering wheel on our highways thinks he or she is the best driver on the road, statistics will prove them wrong. To be a good race driver you need honed hand-eye coordination (dexterity, or the ability to walk and chew gum at the same time); you need instantaneous reflex actions; and you must make instantaneous decisions about speed and distance. In reality, few drivers have the skills and instincts needed to be a successful race driver. Unfortunately, all the drivers around you will fall onto a bell-shaped distribution curve ranging from exceptionally good drivers to exceptionally poor drivers, with the vast majority of drivers half way between the polar region, or mediocre drivers at best. On a 3-sigma distribution, about 3 drivers will be race car quality, and 3 will be accidents looking for a place to happen. Forty-three percent of all drivers will be below average in driving skills.
Always be aware of who and what is happening around you as you drive down the road. Never trust the other driver(s) to be able to realize the potential danger or to do what is necessary to avoid an accident. Approach intersections alert and ready to do what you must to avoid an accident. Never assume the other driver(s) is going to give you the right-of-way. If someone wants to "own the road" and insist on the right of way, give it to them. It's better to arrive alive than to be dead right. I retired from a multi-national German company, and in German the only word that translates to intersection is “collision.” Enough said.
Another smart thing to do is drive defensively. Stay prepared to avoid the other driver(s) even if it means slowing down or moving out of their way. Getting to grandma’s house or the next vacation spot should not become a race against all the other cars on the highway. In a 400-mile drive, the difference between driving 50 MPH and 60 MPH is only one hour and twenty minutes. During the 8-hour trip you will be able to see some of the countryside.
Once again, have a safe and enjoyable summer. Pick up the newest Kurt Maxxon Mystery, Carpentier Falls, and relax awhile! Jim