Lessons from having my Driver’s Licence suspended.
One day in October 2021 I was running late for an appointment. There was no traffic on a stretch of road about 1Km long. I gunned the accelerator, not looking at the speedometer. Unfortunately for me, there was a police car with a speed radar sitting right at the end of this road. I was clocked at 89 Kms/hr in a 50 zone. I was shocked at my speed and stunned that this road was a 50 zone. Anyway, I was guilty and paid the $944 fine. A few weeks later I received a notice that my driver’s licence had been suspended for 3 months. I learned that Driving >35 Kms/hr above the speed limit is an automatic 3-month suspension.
I appealed the suspension and had my day in court in the middle of January. In preparing for the appeal, I had to form a case for why I needed my licence (for work, and to drive my wife who is still recovering from cancer treatments) and why the suspension should be waived or reduced in my case (due to my good driving record and character).
I accessed my driving record and found that over 47 years I have been caught speeding 13 times. The worrying thing for me was that 3 of those offences occurred in the last year.
I began to think about my attitude to driving. I liked to think I was a good driver. I have never had a serious accident. However, my record was not that good. The magistrate was not impressed.
Changing my driving behaviour was not easy
After I paid the large fine, (and before I received the 3-month suspension notice) I thought it was about time to adjust my driving behaviour. I decided to drive TO the speed limit rather than just above it. I really did try. I was consciously driving slower. When I thought about it. I would try to breathe and relax behind the wheel and not rush or try to get to places quickly.
The kicker came a week later when I received another speeding fine from a hidden camera for going 7kms/hr over the speed limit. This happened just near my house. Another $124 out of pocket.
This new fine made me angry. First at the hidden camera. And then at myself. I was frustrated. I thought I was doing better. Obviously, I was still speeding. This process caused me to reflect. I had to realise a few things about myself. My behaviour was not easy to change. It was not as simple as slowing down and driving more deliberately. I had some deeply ingrained bad driving habits.
I had to learn some things about myself
Upon reflection I realised:
- I often did not leave enough time to get to places peacefully without speeding.
- I hate being late and always felt pressure when I was behind schedule for an appointment. This pressure would carry through into my driving.
- I disliked driving slowly. I felt like an old person. Slow drivers often frustrated me and were in my way.
- I resented driving UNDER the speed limit. I had always thought if I drive 5 kms/hr over the speed limit, that is about right for me. I would drive with the flow of traffic and if that was faster, I would go with the flow.
- My aim was to maximise time and not get caught speeding.
My mindset had to be challenged and changed
I reflected deeply and wrote down the changes I needed to make. I challenged my mindset and made some significant adjustments to my attitude and my thinking.
- I decided to drive UNDER the speed limit.
- I made some practical adjustments to my scheduling of travel time.
- I decided to use ‘cruise control’ when possible and set it to 2 Kms/hr under the speed limit.
- I decided I would not ever rush again. If after my better planning, traffic congestion delayed me, then I would be late.
- I would not judge slower drivers harshly again
Mindset change enabled behaviour change
I tested my new mindset for a month over Christmas holidays before my court date in mid-January. Even though it felt really slow to drive under 50 kms/hr all around our neighbourhood, I was able to do it. Driving to the South Coast for holidays I used cruise control and stayed under the speed limit quite easily. I drove in the slower lane if the traffic was flowing faster than the speed limit. At first it rankled to be overtaken by all those other drivers, but after a few trips, it felt a lot more relaxing and restful. I can honestly say behaviour change is happening. Everyone, including me, is probably a lot safer on the roads now.
Establishing new behaviours takes time
As I write I am on the last day of the 2 weeks suspension the magistrate gave me on appeal. I can drive again tomorrow. However, I need to make sure I do not get back into the driver’s seat and allow old patterns to return. It takes 2- 3 months to establish a new behaviour until it becomes habitual. I am calling tomorrow Day 1. I am determined to carry through my mindset change into solid behaviour change. (The threat of a longer suspension if I lose 3 more points is a healthy incentive.) I have made myself accountable to my wife on this one. We often drive together, and she now has my invitation to check our speed at any time without me getting defensive.
To change your behaviour, you first MUST change your mindset
This has been a great illustration for me of a lesson I needed to learn all over again. For any unhelpful behaviour to be effectively changed, I first MUST challenge and change my mindset.
This is a truth that can be generalised. If you are not willing to do the personal reflection to identify your unhelpful thinking, nothing will change in your behaviour. No matter how much you try. Until you challenge and change the thinking behind your behaviour, you will not change. If you are not willing to do the mindset work, it is a sign that you are not serious about changing your behaviour.
Like me, I really did not want to admit that I had an issue with speeding. I reserved the right to speed if I needed to. If I was running late, then I felt I had the right to drive faster than the speed limit. Until I confronted that ugly entitled attitude, I was never going to change my driving habits.
What behaviours do you need to change?
What mindsets need to be challenged and changed to enable you to change your behaviour?
A Business Mentor can help.
The truth is we can struggle to do this alone. This is some of the most important work I do. It is part of my purpose to help others deal with their mindset. If you have unhelpful attitudes and limiting beliefs that are getting in the way of you achieving your vision, I’d love to help you with that important personal work. It takes courage to face the truth about yourself. Until you do, nothing will ever change for the better.
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