I recently got yet another speeding ticket – this time, in the suburbs. I was going 66 mph in a 55-mph zone.
You won't hear excuses from me; I was speeding. The officer told me I had the choice of taking an online defensive driving course to prevent my name from getting sent to the secretary of state's office – which is how my insurance company would find out and probably increase my rates.
I took advantage of it.
On Easter Sunday, one of the most beautiful days this year, I took the 4-hour course.
Here are some things worth passing on:
• I knew that texting while driving was bad, but I didn't know how bad. According to the course, produced by the Illinois-based National Safety Council, you are 23 times more likely to get into an accident if you are texting. I have texted while driving; many of you have, too. It's time we take the pledge: Don't text and drive.
• Do you ever get angry with other drivers while behind the wheel? I have. When people tailgate me, I sometimes hit the brakes suddenly, briefly flashing my taillights, my way of telling them to back off. The driving course, though, says you lose control of the situation when you get mad, and you're more likely to get into an accident. Message received; I should just reduce my speed gradually and let the tailgater pass.
• Speaking of passing, the course advises drivers to take a number of steps in making one. The first step: Determine whether you need to pass in the first place. How many times has someone passed you but never gained much more distance afterward? Why take such a risk without much gain? I rarely pass these days.
• Have you ever heard people argue they had the right-of-way? In the eyes of the police, no one has the right-of-way; they are required to yield the right-of-way. While this may seem a distinction without a difference, it's a key to defensive driving. The website for SafeMotorist.com reads, "The driver should never assume that other drivers will start or complete any maneuver and should never insist on the right-of-way nor attempt to force their way into traffic."
David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.