Many people have a favorite phrase they offer when a visitor is leaving to drive home. Some examples include: Drive safely. Take care. Take it easy. Text me when you get home.
These are all indicative of caring about the departing person.
Three of the men in my life have unique and slightly distorted send-offs to visitors:
Drive like you’ve got some brains. (a brother-in-law)
Drive fast and recklessly. (best friend’s husband)
Text me when you get home so I’ll know it’s safe to be out on the roads. (another brother-in-law)
I don’t usually care for sarcasm as a means of communication, but deep down I know these guys are indicating they care about the person. Especially when they’re saying this stuff to me. I think.
My mother, who died 24 years ago this month, had her own catchphrase when she was seeing me off. She never learned how to drive so I’m not sure how she came up with it. Two words: Drive defensively.
And really, that piece of driving advice is the most specific and meaningful of any that might be offered because it sums up so much: Pay attention. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t assume anyone else on the road is sober or is a good driver. Drive in a way to maintain control of the car.
I recall an acronym from the Virginia driver’s manual: IPDE
From the site DriversEd.com comes this explanation:
- I—Identify—Locate potential hazards within the driving scene.
- P—Predict—Judge where the possible points of conflict may occur.
- D—Decide—Determine what action to take, when, and where to take it.
- E—Execute—Act by maneuvering the car to avoid conflicts.
TopDriver.com says that IPDE is the “step-by-step process behind the principles of defensive driving.”
Following IPDE keeps you thinking about what you encounter as you drive. Here’s an example:
Identify a potential danger. As you reach a four-way stop, you see a car coming from a distance on your right. You can tell the car is going too fast.
Predict that the car either won’t stop or won’t be able to stop.
Decide on the side of caution to wait an extra few seconds instead of moving forward through the intersection even though you have the right of way.
Execute the action of waiting and watch the other car blow through its stop sign without the driver ever tapping the brake.
You know, it’s highly probable that I didn’t appreciate how spot-on my mom’s driving advice was when I was eighteen. And yet here I am, fifty years later, sharing it.
Maybe drive defensively should be the new sendoff to remember.