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Indiana State Police

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Below is an article written and distributed by Sgt. Jerry D. Goodin, Public Information Office of the Indiana State Police Department, July 26, 2011.

What makes someone a safe driver or as some would say a good driver? This is really a question that has many answers and even asking the question presents many more questions to ponder. I will say as far as my belief, being a safe driver is the exact same as being a good driver and both will be used synonymously by me throughout this article. As we all know in Indiana driving is a privilege and comes with responsibilities not only to yourself, but also every other person who drives or rides on our public roadways. Being a police officer I am often asked to do presentations to groups of people teaching my knowledge gained as a police officer to others to prevent them from being involved in a crash. Notice, in my previous sentence, I said being involved in a “crash.” Many people like to say they were involved in a “traffic accident” instead of saying involved in a “traffic crash.” By saying a “traffic accident” it seems to lower the amount of someone’s responsibility when they are in fact the one that caused the “traffic crash.” In the state of Indiana there is no such thing as a “traffic accident.” In fact, several years ago the Indiana State Police changed their traffic crash reports that said “Indiana Traffic Accident Report” to say “Indiana Crash Report”. Why was this? As Indiana studied traffic crashes they realized there was a specific reason why crashes were happening. It was no accident that someone was following too closely, speeding, or drove off of the right side of the roadway causing a crash. These things are done knowingly and wittingly by the driver. So to call it a “traffic accident” would be incorrect.

I have heard, and probably you have to, the old clichés, “men are better drivers than women” or “women are better drivers than men” or “he is a good driver, he drives like my grandma.” All of these clichés are fun to joke around with but, the fact is, there is no group of people who are better drivers or worse drivers than others. All age groups and sexes of people are involved in and cause traffic crashes. I tend to have my own beliefs of who is a safe driver or good driver and I base my thoughts and beliefs on the fact that a safe or good driver is comprised of many things.

For one, you must have the right attitude to be a safe or good driver. By saying this I mean things other drivers do will not affect your driving and either make you have road rage or feel like you need to pretend to be Richard Petty to out maneuver the other driver. A safe or good driver must also anticipate the actions of other drivers, drive to their physical abilities, drive to the conditions of the roadways during inclement weather, not drive when they are feeling sick or tired, not take risks to beat red lights, etc., and does not allow distractions such as cell phones to interfere while they are driving.  Continuing the list, I would also include obvious traits of a safe or good driver as one who would never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and someone who obeys all the traffic laws, all the time, not only when they think a police officer is watching. Lastly, I would also say a good driver is one who keeps their vehicle in proper mechanical condition. 

There are many other traits that come to mind and I am sure there are several you could add to the list. As you can see being a safe or good driver is really no easy task and even if you practice all the previous traits it is still not guaranteed you will not be involved in a crash. 

In closing, everybody is responsible for their own actions. Some will receive bad driving awards in the form of traffic citations or crashes, while safe or good drivers can take the relief of knowing their reward will come in the safety of their families and themselves.