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What does being a good driver really mean?

Many people overestimate their driving abilities. Part of this is due to different definitions of what being a "good driver" means, and another factor is being unable to recognize flaws in yourself that you would readily recognize in someone else.

So, it is interesting to think about what being a good driver actually means.

The definitions of "good"

Good is quite the subjective word. No matter which term you use, be it "above average" or even "safe," there is a lot of room for difference.

  • Driver A might perceive himself as good because he has never been in an accident or gotten a speeding ticket (never mind that his family constantly complains about his driving while texting). 
  • Driver B could consider herself good because, given her declining age, she drives only from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the light is good (never mind that she sometimes confuses the brake and gas pedals). 
  • Driver C could consider herself a good driver because she can handle snow and ice well (never mind that she has a lot of speeding tickets). 
  • Driver D might consider himself safe because he always drives the speed limit and is polite to other drivers (never mind that he often drives when tired).

Few people would like to admit that they are not a good driver or just an average driver.

Recognizing flaws

In one way, you have more insight into your own abilities and thought processes than you do into other people's. Thus, you might recognize that others do not rate your driving abilities as highly as you do. Driver A from the example above would probably admit that his family could rate him as a possibly risky driver, but that would not change his self-rating.

Similarly, you might not think twice about making an illegal U-turn because you are late for an important meeting and consider yourself a safe driver. If you see someone else doing that, though, you might automatically think, "Bad driver!" You have no insight into the other driver's thought processes.

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