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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 21:42 
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What is it about driving that makes us have "off days"?

I've just had one. What went wrong? Not a lot, but just somewhere short of the usual standards that I demand from myself. As time goes by I seem to have fewer.

But what causes them?

Are they "real", in the sense that we performe more poorly, or do we perform the same and take a different view of the performance?

Does everyone have off days?

Does everyone know what I'm talking about?

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 22:39 
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Perhaps its something to do with biorhythms and our body clock. We have a rhythm cycle that lasts about 24 hours, but I'm sure we have another one that spans a longer period of time. That longer cycle has peaks and troughs, and when one of these troughs co-incides with a shorter cycle trough, we have a 'got out of bed the wrong side' type day.
It could be that, on the other hand, it could all be utter cobblers :!:


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 23:05 
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been thinking about this myself this week.

My driving of late varies between flawless and pretty damn indifferent. The indifference is usually due to outside influences, tired, stressed, worried. Most of us have bad days at work, and by the same token we have a bad day on the road from time to time.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 23:19 
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I have those moments. Some days I just seem to drive like a cretin! It seems to be related to concentration. You do something silly and then distracts your brain and you kind of lose your rhythmn and your driving deterioriates from there. Kind of like losing your mojo is the only way to describe it.

The more involving the car to drive the less I suffer from it though.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 23:29 
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Not sure if this is related, but when I'm stressed at work, my driving gets... slightly more aggressive. Nothing like it was in my immature days - and nothing that I believe could be construed as road rage - but, more .. determined - and it shows at the petrol pumps too - I'm 10% less efficient per tankful if the stress remains high for a week or so.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 23:45 
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SafeSpeed wrote:
Does everyone have off days?

Does everyone know what I'm talking about?

I know exactly what you mean - sometimes a sequence of things just seem to go a bit wrong, e.g.
  • misjudging the speed of approaching vehicles when emerging from a side road
  • fluffing a gearchange
  • making a wrong lane selection at a junction you know well
All of which I did within half a mile the other week.

Maybe you're preoccupied with other things, maybe it's bad luck, maybe it's to do with metabolism, I don't know. One of several reasons why I won't display an IAM badge on my car.

On the other hand, there are days when everything seems to go swimmingly.

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Any views expressed in this post are personal opinions and may not represent the views of Safe Speed


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 23:57 
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To be honest I rarely have those sorts of days on the road although I can recall a few in my 50 years. I do have them at the office and at home regularly but for some reason I manage to keep my concentration levels up on the roads.

I even sit in the passenger seat and think to myself, have learned never to tell the wife, about all the missed opportunities and poor lane selections she makes. She seems incapable of reading traffic more than 3-4 cars away and almost never makes decisions based on events in the distance.

I'll look half a mile ahead and make lane decisions based on what's happening up there rather than what the car in front is doing, because he is probably making his decisions based on the car in front of him etc.

I'll see a red light in the distance and where possible I slow down so that by the time I get there the lights are either about to change or change just before I get there. My wife follows the guy in front right up to the lights and the brakes just before the lights. I cannot get it through to her that my way is less stressful, uses less fuel and is far more gentle on the car.

That said, where the nearest speed hump and chicane so I can use lots of fuel and cause heaps of wear and tear on my car?

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 10:53 
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Roger, same here. The harder the day the heavier the foot. Good job I go to work on a Honda C90!

During harvest I'd spend 12 hrs driving with maximum concerntration then get in the car to get some food and people are giving me the finger and flashing their lights. Huh? what? what did I do?

We only see a snap shot of each others driving so maybe next time some body appears to do something a bit mental they might just be having a bad day


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:27 
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This is all about personal perceptions and psychology. I think no driver can be sure they are having an on-day, nor an off-day. Only other people can assess that, we are too involved with our own perceptions of ourselves. It is common to sit in the passenger seat and be aware of all the 'mistakes' other drivers make, yet as people, we are often totally blind to our own inadequacies. This is especially true of men, who are programmed genetically and socially during childhood to compete and be afraid to show weakness to their peers. This is a veil that stops proper, objective thinking dead in it's tracks, and shackles us to subjectivity. It may be better for road safety to admit our vulnerability to fickle fate, and drive accordingly.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 14:54 
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basingwerk wrote:
This is all about personal perceptions and psychology. I think no driver can be sure they are having an on-day, nor an off-day. Only other people can assess that, we are too involved with our own perceptions of ourselves. It is common to sit in the passenger seat and be aware of all the 'mistakes' other drivers make, yet as people, we are often totally blind to our own inadequacies. This is especially true of men, who are programmed genetically and socially during childhood to compete and be afraid to show weakness to their peers. This is a veil that stops proper, objective thinking dead in it's tracks, and shackles us to subjectivity. It may be better for road safety to admit our vulnerability to fickle fate, and drive accordingly.


That's quite an interesting reply. There's not much I actually agree with, but I do think it's helpful in advancing the debate.

I do have concerns that the judgement of an "off day" may be coloured by subjective assessments. But there are easy and obvious "off-day" metrics which really don't depend on subjective value judgements. It's things like getting in the wrong lane, fluffing a gearchange, or braking late.

But "off days" seem to me to have more to do with rhythm and flow. These measures are more subjective, and it's possible that such off days are a matter of perception rather than reality. To complicate matters even further, there's a feedback system too. If we think we're having an off day then our confidence may drop a little and that in turn may lead to mistakes or a loss of rhythm. In other words, thinking that you're having an off day might make you have an off day.

Basingwerk also asks, quite correctly, if we have the ability to judge ourselves. There's evidence that suggests we can't judge our driving ability against any absolute standard. This is usually expressed as: "90% of drivers think they are above average, and that can't be true". I am worried about drivers' ability to make absolute judgements about their own quality, but here and now we're not talking about absolute quality. We're talking about relative quality as it varies from day to day. I have no doubt that we can make worthwhile relative judgements.

Basingwerk suggests that we are shackled to subjectivity, but there are excellent objective measures that we can all use. We need to count (and evaluate) our own mistakes. I'm quite sure that the majority of us would be only too pleased to make worthwhile judgements of our own driving if only we had been told what the measurements should be.

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