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Good Driver, Bad Driver!

Most drivers think they are pretty good. Our driving is a reflection of who we are. The average driver is only half as good as he could be. Men tend to think that they are in the top 85% of drivers. Women, a little more honest, tend to think they are in the top 76%.

How do we measure our driving skills? Many of my senior citizens students tell me things like, “Well I never had a ticket or an accident.” This could indicate extraordinary skills and a high level of awareness or just plain luck. It could also indicate a very poor memory. By the way luck does save most of us on a regular basis.

When I was 18 years old, I had a cushy job working as a houseboy for a wealthy family in Sacramento. These folks did a fair amount of traveling and liked the idea of having live in help 24/7. I was like a glorified guard dog.

One night I overheard the couple talking and the wife said, “How are we going to get to the airport tomorrow?” The husband says, “We’ll just let Ken drive us.” Where upon the wife retorts “I don’t like Ken’s driving!” I could not believe what I was hearing. How dare her, I was a good driver that miserable _________ (sounds like witch starts with a B). This was the ultimate insult for a young driver.

Sure my high school girlfriend complained about my driving and often made fun of me, but I just figured she was a chicken. So the idea that I had about my driving ability was clouded by the fact that I did not dare think of myself as an inadequate driver. It’s the same as being an inadequate person. This is pretty much how most drivers feel. Critique a friend or loved one’s driving and you will not get a “thank you for sharing” response.

You will instead be reminded about how long they have been driving, as if length of time was equal to a superb level of skill. Not so. If we were to learn from our mistakes and close calls, then we would tend to improve with more practice. That is intelligence.

Here is a typical close call on the freeway. Two drivers attempt to merge into the same lane at the same time. They barely miss each other. This is a scary close call. First reaction is startled fear, then anger. It takes place in less than a second. Each driver calls the other a name, and then as they continue down the road you will see the head shake. The side to side head movement indicating that the other guy is a complete idiot!

Each blames the other, and no one learns a dog gone thing.

This close call is what I call a wake up call. Anytime you are startled and finding yourself having to take a quick evasive action is a time to examine what just happened. This gives you the chance to learn from your experience and improve. However the ego gets in the way. It does not want to be wrong. It tends to blame others, much like an immature child. As long as you are constantly blaming others, then we can be sure that we will not learn from our experiences.

So instead of going down the freeway, doing the head shake, we need to Thank God for sparing us and then examine what happened. 97% of crashes are preventable. Many drivers believe that their crash was the exception. “They came from out of nowhere, it happened so fast, there was nothing I could do!” These are common statements after a crash has taken place.

In my classroom sessions we examine the dynamics of a crashes and close calls. Remember the close calls are also wake up calls. Wake up and learn. As a driver I have very few surprises, but I do experience them on a daily basis. In the case above we should be able to predict almost 90% of lane change movements. We can look at the circumstance surrounding the incident. Anytime I am startled, I know I was not paying enough attention. Sure I still want to blame the idiot that scared me but I learn from the situation.

Years ago, I was teaching a young man from China. He spoke very little English, so the way I taught him was using the phrases, “Good Driver, Bad Driver” to describe the drivers around us. We had more bad examples around us, than good examples. He learned enough to pass his driving test. Unfortunately, he did not get a lot of detailed information, but he did get the bigger picture of what was correct and what was stupid.

Good Drivers:

  1. Do not scare or make their passengers uncomfortable
  2. Have very smooth and graceful car control
  3. Avoid impulsive decisions through good seeing habits
  4. Can predict 90% of the movements around them
  5. Check the mirrors every three to five seconds
  6. Constantly check their blind spots
  7. Keep both hands on the wheel
  8. Always wear seat belts and insist that passengers do too
  9. Do not tailgate
  10. Do not speed, and adjust for the conditions of weather, visibility, traffic and pedestrians
  11. Do not take every mistake around them personally
  12. Realize that driving should be a cooperative effort
  13. Know that competitive driving on public roadways is only for the immature
  14. Allow for the fact that other drivers and pedestrians are not always paying attention
  15. Can lane change comfortably in all types of traffic
  16. Have learned to scan 15 to 20 seconds ahead of their car
  17. Always use turn signals whether someone is there or not
  18. Time their vehicle movement so they hit mostly green lights
  19. Makes turns with control so the passengers don’t fall over
  20. Brakes smoothly and early enough so Mom does not have to brace for impact

Bad Drivers:

  1. Are not all Felons
  2. Some of their bad habits are based on poor training
  3. Some of their bad habits are based on immaturity
  4. The big risk takers tend to overestimate their skill level
  5. Are often angry at the world or God for their life
  6. Are usually selfish and unaware
  7. Think that the rules are for sissies and do not apply to them
  8. Are usually out of control in many aspects of their lives
  9. Lack the ability to focus on the task at hand and have many surprises
  10. Force their passengers to hang on and pray for forgiveness
  11. Make their passengers uncomfortable
  12. Resent helpful safety tips
  13. Have difficulty lane changing in traffic
  14. Have poor seeing habits, not scanning far enough ahead
  15. Have an overall lack of awareness of their circumstances


"They taught me to drive like a champ!"
-Tobias Tune

"Thanks to Sunshine Driving School I aced my drivers test on the first try...with compliments from the examiner for avoiding and accident with remarkable reflexes!"
-Akka B, Poet

Oakland "This man taught me to drive when I first came to this country. Triple AAA+++, thank you Ken, for all your safe driving tips and your patience with me. Now I love to drive!"
-Indu Kline

"Ken is a great teacher. I was only 26 years old when I took his program. I had just come from New York and had never needed a car. Ken's instruction insured that I became a safe and happy driver! Thanks Ken!"
-Marilyn Mosley-Goranier: Educator, Ojai

"Ken taught me to drive in a month and a half at age 32. He also taught both of my children to drive. My daughter went on to drive buses while attending U.C. Santa Cruz. He is the best!"
-Jessica Watling-Murray

If you want to learn to drive this is the place to call! The skills you will gain will last a l lifetime. I have proof!
-Asha Tyska McLaughlin

"My daughter was 21 and was too scared to learn to drive. Sunshine Driving School was the only place where she felt safe enough to learn. Now she's a confident and safe driver. Thank you!"
-Debbie Godfrey, self employed

Ken and Sunshine Driving School were the best things that could have happened to me during learning to drive experience. After a horrible set of lessons from another local driving school, after which I vowed I would never drive again, Ken reestablished my confidence in my driving abilities. His calm demeanor assured me that I was always safe, and his encouragement (and occasional humor) helped me learn in a positive and constructive way. Folks, Ken is undoubtedly one of the best driving teachers out there. His experience shows in every lesson and interaction. It was a pleasure and honor to learn how to drive from Ken, especially after encountering the worst. Heck, I even passed my test first try!

I hope that this suffices! I could probably write you an in-depth 5 page paper if you really wanted it. I'm thinking a catchy title would be: KEN CORNELIUS, PRAISE BE UNTO HIM! :) hahaha.

I hope that you and all of your family is doing well. I recommend you to EVERYONE! Truly!

Best wishes always,
Olivia, Thacher Student

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Sunshine Driving School
229 East Villanova Rd. Ojai, CA 93023

Tel: (8O5) 646-2113
Fax: (805) 646-6184


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