Small steps create big changes
New Year’s resolutions seem inevitable; there is something about the start of a new year that encourages a fresh start in many areas of our lives. More often than not, we don’t follow through on our good intentions for long.
Studies have shown that 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February, mainly because resolutions tend to be lofty, vague, and driven by motivations that do not involve the most important thing—changing your mindset. So instead of setting resolutions, think about setting a few small, attainable goals related to your attitude.
To improve your safety attitude, think about what annoys or frustrates you the most while driving. Is it your own abilities or limitations? Perhaps it’s the behaviour of other road users or how you respond when other drivers do something you find annoying. As drivers, we can’t change how others drive; we can only change how we respond.
Being a professional driver is more than being paid to operate a vehicle; it requires a certain mentality to keep you doing your job safely. This exercise is to help you be the best you can be. Begin with small steps, realizing that meeting a few small goals can solve larger problems.
The first step is to do an inventory of your driving attitudes—what are your strong points? What gets your back up or interferes with your attention to your job? Be very honest with yourself. Think about feedback you’ve gotten from your fleet manager and improvements you can make to have a safer attitude. Think about your good habits and the ways you are already a safe driver.
Once you’ve determined where your attitude could use a tune-up, consider small goals that will work together to help you refresh your attitude. You may find it helpful to write a list or brainstorm with colleagues, your fleet manager, or a professional. Talking with colleagues can be especially helpful; it’s always possible they’ve gone through the same exercise and can suggest solutions.
For example, if you have a problem staying calm when other road users make poor decisions, remember to focus on the driving environment to shut down road rage. Consider adopting these behaviours until you can handle others’ behaviours without breaking a sweat:
– Don’t trust that other drivers will do what’s right on the road. Be aware that every driver has limitations and you can only account for your own.
– Look ahead in traffic and read the signs to anticipate problems. Responding early to potential problems reduces stress by giving you more time to react to a dangerous situation.
– Follow speed limits and adjust for road conditions, especially in winter.
– Use good space management. Always attempt to create as much space around your vehicle as possible to give you room to manoeuvre if another driver makes an unsafe change. It also gives the other driver room to move without causing a collision.
– Never tailgate. You can’t see what’s in front of the vehicle ahead of you.
Staying safe on the road has a lot to do with attitude supported by good safety practices. As a professional driver, you are responsible for your own safety and that of others. Having a clear plan to avoid driving conflicts every day goes a long way. The new year will undoubtedly bring daily driving challenges along with the opportunity for a fresh start. But don’t expect change if you aren’t willing to make a change.