A few years ago, I was driving on I-15 home to Provo, Utah from visiting my parents in Ogden. It was around 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. The autumn sun had just dipped behind the western mountains, and that fresh, crisp feel of fall was in the air. I was in a hurry because there was a BYU football game that night and I knew that if I did not time it right, the game would end, and I would be trapped in a deluge of cars, scrambling to get out of Provo in every direction.
As I bustled down the highway, to the right, I saw the sign announcing the University Parkway exit. As my mind processed this information, I realized I was still in the far-left lane of the freeway. I needed to cross four lanes of traffic to be able to exit. I nervously began to blinker, trying to squeeze my way between the cars to get to the exit lane. As I got to the final two lanes, I could see, barely ahead of me, the exit peeling off to the right. I had only seconds! I quickly blinkered and swerved through the two lanes into the exit lane. As my car slowed on the off ramp, I congratulated myself for my quick maneuvering.
My celebrations were premature, however, because as I glanced in my rear-view mirror, I saw the sudden flash a highway patrolman. I sighed deeply and pulled to the shoulder of the ramp just as the siren began to screech behind me. I certainly wasn’t speeding (I had received too many tickets to want to speed again). My quick lane changes might have gotten me in trouble.
Because of the narrow shoulder, the officer came to the right side of my vehicle. I squinted over at him with the bright sun beaming behind him, slowly dipping behind the mountains.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?” The officer grunted.
“I don’t think so,” I said, slowly shaking my head.
“You swiped over the three lanes to exit too quickly.” He said as a matter-of-fact.
“Well, I did blinker,” I said pleadingly.
“Doesn’t matter. You’re supposed to stay in each lane for three seconds to allow other cars to adjust.” He stated. He asked for my license and registration then strode back to his car and came back with a freshly printed ticket. In angered fury, I didn’t say a thing as he handed me the ticket. I just kept glaring forward with an obvious disdain written on my face. Taking the ticket, I rolled up my window slammed the ticket on the seat next to me and drove off.
Why wasn’t he off catching the bad criminals? I mean, I didn’t harm anyone! Annoyed, I drove to my apartment, which took about a half hour longer than usual because I hit all the traffic I was trying to avoid from the football game.
Unfortunately, this was my third ticket in the span of a year and a half. Because of the point system that Utah uses, I had the option to go to driving school to remove some of the points from my record. If I received another ticket and any more points, I would run the risk of having my license suspended. Knowing how I drive and not wanting to leave my fate with capricious cops again, I opted for driving school.
A few weeks later, I slumped down in a chair at Provo City Hall for Driving School. I folded my arms and scowled as other students filed in slowly. The class hadn’t even started yet, and I was already bored. I had a bad attitude about the whole thing, but I didn’t care. I had suffered an injustice, and there was no way I would enjoy this!
The man who taught the class stood up and began to explain the ideas behind defensive driving. He acknowledged that we were probably here because we hadn’t been using the defensive driving techniques. He showed us some instructional videos, very similar to the ones found at Ultimate Defensive Driving. The suggestions he shared were things I learned in my driver’s education course back when I was 16 but hadn’t been properly utilizing in my driving. One of the things they taught us was to anticipate bad moves by other drivers. For instance, asking yourself, “If the there is a sudden fender-bender in front of me, how would I react?” The teacher informed us that anticipating these types of situations can help prevent possible problems on the roadway.
A few months later, I was driving to Salt Lake for work. As I puttered along, I noticed a large painter’s van in front of me with a large ladder on top. Thinking about the things I learned in driving school, I wondered how I would react if that ladder were to detach. Would I swerve into the other lane? Would I hit my brakes? I ran a few hypotheticals in my head settling on getting into the lane next to me. I turned up my music and didn’t think much more of it.