Defensive Driving is operating a motor vehicle with an intentional awareness of your surroundings and the other drivers on the road. A defensive driver goes beyond the acceptable rules and basics of driving in order to reduce the risk of collisions. He or she plans ahead for the unexpected, anticipates adverse conditions, reacts to and respects other drivers, controls speed for quicker reaction time and doesn’t make assumptions about the intentions of other drivers.
As a teenaged driver I learned the value of driving defensively when I was involved in a minor traffic accident. The elderly gentleman driving the other vehicle was ticketed for failing to yield to oncoming traffic, thus causing the collision. But when I walked over to ask if he was hurt he responded with, “you were driving too dang fast.” I was actually driving at a permissible rate of speed and obviously had the right of way; yet, he blamed me for the collision because I was going too fast for him.
In retrospect, I realize my inattentiveness didn’t allow me to even notice his vehicle entering traffic from the side street until it nailed my right front fender. Even though this particular collision was not officially my fault, I wonder if it could have been avoided had I been driving more defensively? That’s a great question for those of us who are church leaders to ask as we consider making radical changes. We are often just as inattentive as we move quickly from here to there without even considering our surroundings and others along the way, thus causing collisions.
What might initially appear to be the quickest and most direct route can seem too dang fast for those who have the same goals but are more comfortable with a slower pace. Ignoring their signals of caution can cause collisions, sabotage trust, leave valuable resources in our tracks and cause us all to re-trace our routes. The pace originally intended to expedite our trip may in fact lengthen it.
Being aware of our surroundings and considering others will still allow us to look ahead with laser vision as long as we also look beside and behind for those trying to catch up. Leadership impatience that damages relationships is not any more virtuous even if our destination is righteous.