Discernment is vital to drive safely


Most dictionaries define the word “discernment” as a quality that assists an individual to comprehend something.  There is an obvious connection between safe driving habits and discernment.  The level of discernment one possesses may vary based on how someone processes information and by how they choose to react and apply what they learn.  As we consider a few examples, pay close attention to the situation being described and use them to evaluate or even “grade” your personal driving behavior based on what you discern and how it may affect your decisions.


Situation 1          Most people have busy schedules and juggle many different responsibilities and obligations.  If you regularly find yourself running late or begin to feel strong emotions such as anger or frustration while driving; how may you choose to respond?

Response 1         Driving aggressively or faster than the speed limit may reduce the time needed for travel.  Will this increase driving risk for yourself and others?

Response 2         Changing the time allotted for travel time budgeting additional time to travel and allotting time for unexpected delays.  Will this reduce driving risks and perhaps help to avoid becoming aggressive or frustrated while driving?


Situation 2          Inclement weather is affecting driving conditions and visibility.  Heavy rain is making the roadway reduce the quality of tire traction and stopping distance.  The rain is also making it more difficult to see the roadway lines or to clearly see pedestrians or cyclists.


Response 1         The speed limit signs do not state a speed limit when it is raining.  I can drive legally at the speed limit.


Response 2         Deciding to slow enough to allow proper time to stop proportionate to visibility, reaction time, and braking ability will reduce the risk of striking anything that appears suddenly.  Paying closer attention to the road will reduce the likelihood that other internal or external factors will affect driving safely.  Having the discernment to allow additional time for any drive also helps to prevent our view of time adding to the factors that influence driving behavior.

At NHSA, our goal is to provide online driver education courses that equip all drivers with what they need to be safe drivers.  Whether you are a teen seeking a learner’s permit, or an adult driver seeking a basic driver safety course, check us out online to see what courses are available in your state!

Leave your comment