GEM Motoring Assist says the practise will make drivers safer.

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist has urged drivers to learn from their own mistakes by thinking back on “near misses”.

The organisation says using past mistakes as learning experiences will help to reduce the risks of future road journeys.

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Instead of simply forgetting what it calls “oops factor” moments, GEM’s road safety officer, Neil Worth, recommended that motorists instead analyse their performance and think about why the incident occurred.

“We are all familiar with those ‘oops factor’ moments of danger, where no harm was actually done but where we came close to disaster,” said Worth.

MIssed turn or taking the scenic route

“We’re encouraging drivers to set aside time thinking about their own particular ‘oops factor’ moments. But rather than dwell on the danger and risk being distracted, wait until the end of a journey and set aside a few moments to think about why it happened.

“That short period of reflection may be all you need to identify the reason, and to adapt your observation or concentration techniques to prevent a similar situation happening again.”

Worth says that although most drivers are “poor at accepting blame”, thinking back and wondering why you didn’t see another vehicle or why you misjudged a vehicle’s speed will help motorists improve their driving – in much the same way that elite sports players will analyse their performance.

Scared student driver making mistake during driving test

It isn’t, he says, about apportioning blame, but looking at why incidents happen.

“We can minimise the risks we face – and the risks we pose to others,” says Worth.

“Good observation and anticipation mean we can spot potential problems early and look for a safe resolution of a situation in its early stages. In a sense we’re doing other drivers’ work for them – and we shouldn’t expect to be thanked for it. Our satisfaction can come in knowing that we made a positive contribution to ensuring a safer journey.

“Experience should warn us of situations where risk is increased: for example, if it’s a wet day, we know we’ll take longer to stop. More to the point, we can expect to have to make allowances for others who may be less experienced or who don’t connect wet weather with greater risk.

Man trying to take control of the steering wheel in risky situation

“Taking time to assess any ‘near misses’ we might have experienced - those moments during a journey where we raised an eyebrow, drew in breath, cursed another driver, or felt our hearts miss a beat – can be very helpful in reducing risk.

“Most of us are poor at accepting blame. But we’re trying to keep blame out of the equation and adopt the simple priority of staying safe, and helping others stay safe, too. By recognising the situations that may lead to greater danger, and learning from those ‘oops factor’ moments, we can actively reduce risk, both to ourselves and to those around us.”

Stressed woman driver with papers sitting inside her car