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5 Things Older Drivers Can Teach Us about Driving Safely

5 Things Older Drivers Can Teach Us about Driving Safely

For years, people have worried about the effects of older drivers on the road. As people’s bodies ages and minds fade, some well-meaning individuals fret about whether seniors retain the mental capacity to drive safely and suddenly react to incidents on the road.

But while we may fret about seniors crashing their cars, we should never forget that teenagers and the young remain the group with the biggest chances of crashing their car. Rather than the young worrying about our senior population, perhaps it is the young who should attempt to learn something from how their elders drive. And while everyone drives differently, there are certain behaviors which older drivers do which others can seek to emulate.

Here are five such things which society as a whole can learn from older drivers on how to drive safely.

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1. Texting and Driving

You know not to do this. There are laws against not doing this. Nevertheless, young adults and teens remain the group most likely to text and drive at the same time.

Even if you are not texting, distracted driving as a whole is a dangerous habit which keeps your mind off the road. So many accidents occur precisely because someone’s mind lapses while they think about something else and do not realize they have driven into a dangerous situation until it is too late. Even if your hands are free, actions such as holding a conversation through speaker phones takes your mind off the road and increases the chances of an accident.

Older people are much less likely to text and drive at the young. Learn from them and understand that you can wait to respond to that text.

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2. Appropriate Driver Behavior

It is commonly observed that young people think that they are invincible and take risks which end up increasing the chances of an accident. Such examples of behavior include speeding and running red lights. The former is particularly noticeable because the elderly are fairly notorious for driving slower than average. This behavior exists due to their slower reaction times and decreased the ability to notice pedestrians.

But while many of us may scream and shake in rage at that woman driving 20 mph under the speed limit, we all could learn to slow down on the road. Most of the time, speeding excessively is only going to get you to arrive at your destination only a few minutes earlier. It is not worth the additional risk.

3. Knowing Where to Go

Once upon a time, people did not drive with GPS. They planned where to go while looking at these things called “maps.”

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There is no denying that technology has made things more convenient. But how many times have you been stuck in a situation where the GPS tells you to make a turn you did not expect, which causes you to try and cut across multiple lanes and do something crazy? This sort of behavior happens precisely because we have grown more accustomed towards relying on the GPS instead of trying to navigate ourselves.

Fortunately, technology can help you scout the area you are trying to go to, and Google Maps can show what streets are in the area. Take the time to prepare beforehand just like people did 50 years ago instead of just blindly depending on technology.

4. Sleeping

Not every lesson from the elderly has to be positive. Older people often suffer from increased sleeping problems, are tired more often, and just generally sleep less.

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Unfortunately, sleep deprivation is one of the primary causes of automobile accidents, and sleeping while tired is about as bad as sleeping while drunk. You lose alertness and the ability to react to sudden events while tired. This loss in alertness combined with the slower reactions of seniors can often pose a problem.

If you are extremely tired but have to go somewhere, try to find an alternative such as being driven by a friend. While there is a lot which we can seek to emulate from older drivers, we should also try to avoid their example of not sleeping enough.

5. Driving Experience

The best way to get better at driving is to be on the road. While older drivers often decrease their chances of an accident through slowing down and practicing good driver behavior, there is also the fact that they know the road better than a teenager. Driving over and over can help you do a better job merging into lanes, parallel parking, and knowing what to expect from your fellow drivers.

Always be aware, always prepare before it is time for you to go anywhere, and this will remove much of the risks which come with driving. And you can reduce that risk by looking at how our elders drive, emulating what they do right, and seeking to improve from their mistakes.

Featured photo credit: Boudewijn Berends via flic.kr

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Published on November 23, 2020

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

How to Develop Big Picture Thinking And Think More Clearly

Your neighbors downstairs are playing loud music. Again. How do they not get tired of partying? And why do they choose songs with such a heavy downbeat that the glass in your cupboard is vibrating every two seconds? What can you do to get some peace that you deserve? What should you?

Human mind tends to go in circles whenever faced with a problem without a clear solution. It becomes easy to forget the big picture and get lost in anger and self-pity, wasting our precious time, energy and enthusiasm.

Would it not be nice if we always remembered to put things in perspective?

Would it not be more efficient to face all kinds of problems, from tiny annoyances to life-changing emergencies, with a calm demeanor, sharp focus and fearless determination to promptly take the most efficient action possible?

Alas, humans are not like that. All too often we let anxiety or greed get the best of us and make a rushed or shortsighted decision that we quickly come to regret. Other times, we spend weeks or months at an impasse, rehashing the exact same arguments, unable to accept the compromise required to move forward with any of the available options.

Buddhists talk about getting lost in the “small self.” In this state of mind, we literally forget the big picture and focus on the small one. We start taking our daily problems too personally and, paradoxically, becomes less capable of solving them in an efficient manner. And this is the opposite of big picture thinking.

Let me share with you a story related to big picture thinking…

In 1812, the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia.[1] After a decisive Battle of Borodino, the capture of Moscow and therefore Napoleon’s victory in the war seemed inevitable.

Unexpectedly, the Russian Commander-in-Chief Mikhail Kutuzov made a highly controversial decision of retreating and allowing the French to capture Moscow. Much of the population had been evacuated taking supplies with them. The city itself was set on fire and large parts of it burned into the ground.

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After waiting in vain for Russia to capitulate, Napoleon had to retreat in the middle of a bitterly cold winter. He won the battle but lost the war. The campaign ended in a disaster and the near destruction of the French army.

What can we learn from this historical lesson?

1. Focus on the Consequences

Napoleon focused on the important part: capturing Moscow. Nobody could accuse him of thinking small. Yet he overlooked that the Russian army could still fight even after giving up the country’s most important city.

So was Moscow not an important target after all?

Success expert Brian Tracy has a litmus test: things are important to the extent that they have important consequences. Things are unimportant to the extent that they have no important consequences.[2]

When faced with a choice, ask yourself, what would be the consequences of each option?

  • Want to spend an hour studying or watching the new series on Netflix? What would be the consequences of each option? Netflix can sometimes be a better choice, but it helps to put things in perspective.
  • Want to maintain your apartment by yourself or to pay a cleaning service? Would would be the consequences of each option?
  • Want to meet up for coffee with this acquaintance of yours or catch up on your work instead? What would be the consequences of each option?

The choice can be different for different people. An aspiring filmmaker may have a legitimate reason for choosing Netflix. Personally, cleaning your own apartment can be relaxing and nourishing even if the economics of hiring a cleaner looks compelling because you are earning a high hourly rate.

This is where you will need a basic idea of who you are — what are your goals, values and aspirations.

2. Flip Defeat Into Victory

Kutuzov managed to turn Russia’s defeat into a historic victory by recasting the problem in a wider context: losing Moscow need not mean losing the war.

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Despite the symbolic meaning attached to the Kremlin, the churches, the priceless treasures that had been stored in the city for centuries, the outcome of the campaign was ultimately determined by the strength of the remaining armies.

If you can adopt this result-oriented perspective, many of your personal defeats may be flipped into victories as well. Few events in a human life are absolutely good or absolutely bad, and it usually takes many years to recognize in retrospect, what role a particular encounter did play in your story.

Therefore we have every reason to look for the good in the things that happen to us.

This is a very practical attitude, far from baseless “positive thinking.” After all, if something unfortunate has happened to you and you find good sides in this circumstance, you will then be better positioned to take advantage of those good sides.

Say your noisy neighbors are affecting your productivity. What if it is a blessing in disguise? How can you turn this defeat into a victory?

  • Perhaps you are too serious about life and could learn how to have more fun. Join your neighbors or go out for a walk instead of working;
  • Perhaps you only wanted to be productive while instead procrastinated on social media. Now that your procrastination has been interrupted, stop and acknowledge this much greater obstacle to your productivity;
  • Perhaps you are too sensitive to interference. Take this opportunity to practice ignoring the noise and doing your best anyway;
  • Perhaps you have a victim mentality and the feeling of unfairness drains you more than any actual nuisance your neighbors might have caused. Try accepting this lapse in your productivity the way you would accept bad weather.

Get used to finding opportunities in your problems. This is the quintessential big picture thinking.

3. Ask for Advice

Both Napoleon and Kutuzov had trusted advisers to discuss their affairs with. In general, getting a different perspective — or several — can only help inform your understanding and lead to better decisions. Just ensure that the people giving you advice are competent in the particular area where experience is needed.

Paying money for advice can also be a wise investment. Lawyers, tax accountants, medical doctors spend years learning how to assist people like yourself in living more successful, more fulfilling lives.

A quick legal consultation can save you a fortune down the line or even keep you out of big trouble. A medical check-up can uncover potential issues and help keep you healthy and active for years to come.

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Even big, complex dilemmas at your job or in your romantic relationship can be tackled more effectively by partnering up with a coach or a therapist or, of course, with the help of a wise friend.

4. Beware of Biased Advice

Many imperfect decisions occur in response to an imperfect piece of advice that you choose to act on. This advice often comes from a biased party.

For example, we are often encouraged to buy something that we supposedly need:

  • Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by using a special lotion.
  • Fortify your health by taking multivitamins.
  • Connect with your friends by sending them elaborate gifts.
  • Brighten your weekend by consuming a delicious pastry.
  • Become more productive by getting a faster computer.

However, most purchases are unnecessary.

Some, such as the sunscreen, do have legitimate benefits when used properly.[3] Others, such as multivitamins, only make a difference for a small group of people.[4]

Advertisers of those benefits inevitably want to narrow your focus in order to overstate the importance of their product. They frequently present it as the only solution to your problem, whether real or imaginary.

After all,

  • Skin can also be protected from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
  • Health can be better fortified by consuming a balanced diet and getting regular exercise.
  • Spending time or talking on the phone with your friends is the foremost way of connecting with them, and it is virtually free.
  • Your weekend can be brightened by doing something that you love.
  • You can become more productive by focusing on the tasks that have the most important consequences. A faster computer can, in fact, decrease productivity by making it easier to multitask and by enabling your favorite distractions.

There are other sources of imperfect advice. Politicians also frequently want us to focus on a particular “big picture,” to the exclusion of the alternatives.

Even loving parents can be guilty of the same. They can advise their children to pick a career path that is safe and respectable, based on their “big picture” that in life one has to make a living. A child may disagree, however, based on another “big picture” that one’s life has to have meaning and fulfillment.

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Bottom Line

It is human nature to make rushed, emotional decisions based on incomplete information, then regret those decisions later on.

You can protect yourself from poor judgment by striving to attain the big picture when careful consideration is called for.

Focus on the consequences of your decision before considering how you feel about it.

Play with the cards you’ve been dealt, but look for opportunities in each situation and you will find them.

Ask knowledgeable mentors for advice, but beware of biased people who have an opinion, but do not necessarily have your best interest in mind.

Yet remember, true big picture thinking comes from hard-won experience. Legendary military commanders Napoleon Bonaparte and Mikhail Kutuzov were both injured on the battlefield.

Clear thinking comes from putting your big picture to the test of reality.

More Tips on Thinking Clearly

Featured photo credit: Haneen Krimly via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Wikipedia: French invasion of Russia
[2] Brian Tracy: No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline
[3] American Academy of Dermatology: Say Yes to Sun Protection
[4] Harvard Medical School: Do multivitamins make you healthier?

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