Thu | Mar 30, 2023

Skills all drivers need

Published:Sunday | November 1, 2020 | 12:09 AMPaul Glenroy Messam - Contributor

Driving is partly a social task. Like other social skills, driving requires skills in interacting and cooperating with people. The driving task includes all the skilled actions a person must take to drive a motor vehicle. These actions must be based on sound judgements and correct decisions. “Driving requires social, physical, and mental skill,” says Shane Sutherland, guidance counsellor. “Courtesy is an essential part of the social,” he adds.

According to Sutherland, courteous drivers obey the traffic laws and are thoughtful of other road users. “Courtesy is important in that it shows the humanistic side of a person, and it is not just a machine or robot, but a human behind the steering wheel.”

For the most part, other persons on the road will be strangers to you. They all bring to the driving task their own challenges, capabilities, and limitations. Some may be tired, causing their reactions to be slower than usual. Some may be angry or distracted by personal problems. Part of the social task as a driver is one’s obligation to adjust for mistakes made by pedestrians, motor cyclists, and other drivers.

According to Alrick Douglas, certified social emotional learning (SEL) coach from NJ, School District USA, SEL is the process of developing and using the knowledge, attributes, and skills that help youth and adults to understand and manage emotions and feel and show empathy for others. Douglas asserts that beginning drivers often pay too much attention to the physical part of the driving task and ignore the social and mental skills needed for driving. “Some think good driving is merely skilful accelerating, steering, and braking.”

“Basic physical skills, however, must be learned well enough to become almost automatic.” This allows the driver to concentrate on the social and mental skills of driving,” says Alicia Henry, educator. “

“Hands turn the steering wheel, and feet push the pedals; however, feet and hands respond only when they receive directions from the brain,” says Dr Andrew Burton. Now since the brain controls driving, safe driving is mainly a mental decision-making task. The physical skills of turning a wheel or pushing a brake or accelerator pedal are of little use if done at the wrong time. Deciding where to steer and when to brake and accelerate is vital in being a defensive driver. According to Dr Freckleton, consultant psychologist, only after you master the thinking skills of driving can you become a skilful driver. “I believe we are called to work together in oneness as this is a time of attitudinal change for everyone – a change and adjustment to our mental, physical, and social aspect of driving.”