Here lies the body of Jonathan J.,
Who died maintaining the right-of-way,
He was right, dead right, as he rode along,
But just as dead as if he had been wrong.

(“No Excuses!” – Chapter 9 of Flipping the Switch
"I almost lost my husband tonight," said Molly.
“I almost lost my husband tonight,” said Molly.

Bill is a professional driver. Bill drives people all around. Bill drives a lot. Bill picked me up at the Detroit airport and drove me an hour north to a hotel for my “Personal Accountability and the QBQ!” speaking engagement. Bill and I have a bunch in common:

Born in 1958, married, kids, dogs, 1976 “Bicentennial” high school grads, survived disco—and each got a driver’s license at 16 in 1974.

And one more thing: In our 40 years of driving, we’ve each been handed a speeding ticket or two.

Bill’s last ticket, though, didn’t add any penalty “points” to his license. When I asked how that could be, he shared, “I avoided the penalty by attending a day-long, driver training session.”

I exclaimed, “What? You had to take a driving class … in your fifties? What could you possibly learn after driving all these years???”

Without skipping a beat he said, “That I needed it and everyone else does, too!”

I got it. Just because we’ve been driving a long time, doesn’t mean that …

A) We don’t make mistakes

B) We aren’t cocky and careless

C) We haven’t developed bad habits

D) WE ARE ANY GOOD AT DRIVING!!!

Two days after meeting Bill I was thinking about how to use his experience in this space. Blog themes came to mind like the need for ongoing training, the truth that being “tenured” at something doesn’t mean we’re good at it, and Bill’s humility that spoke so loudly to me.

But then, in one scary moment, “blog fog” lifted when the Miller family narrowly avoided tragedy on Saturday night.

As he was just entering an intersection with a green light, daughter Molly’s husband, Ricardo, was broadsided by a teen driver speeding recklessly through his red light.

Amazingly, our son-in-law survived with no injuries, but his beloved 2000 Ford Ranger, affectionately nicknamed “Walker,” is gone forever (photo above). The other driver was not hurt either. Can you say miracle??? (Yet another moment of perspective!)

So when a shaken Molly, wife for only a year and suffering from the clear realization of what might have been, called and told us about the accident, clarity came. I decided to publicly share a Miller family document for the first time titled QBQ! Rules for the Road.

And, like Bill said, everyone needs them. Including me.

Since May 28th, my tongue-in-cheek mantra has been “55 and Still Alive!” The “55” is not a speed limit but my age. It’s my hope to change out the 55 with 65, 75, 85, etc. I want to be here for a long long while. So I need these guidelines for safer, more accountable driving.

Maybe you do, too. Or someone you know.

So, in the form of a PDF that can be downloaded, enjoyed, and shared—first created for Miller teen drivers—here are the … 

13 QBQ! Rules for the Road

Rocket science? No. Worth sharing? Absolutely! So please post this piece on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or your blog. Print the PDF to email/snail-mail to a friend—or hang on your family’s fridge. Above all, though, put QBQ! Rules for the Road into practice. When we do that, we exponentially increase the odds that down the road of life we’ll be able to say … “95 and Still Alive!”

For comment:

Which of the QBQ! Rules for the Road do you need to work on? Who do you plan to share them with? What’s the worst driving mistake you’ve ever made or seen another make?

If you are not a subscriber to our QBQ! QuickNote blog emails, sign up here.

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About John G. Miller

John G. Miller is the author of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, Flipping the Switch: Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability, Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional and co-author of Parenting the QBQ Way. He is founder of QBQ, Inc., an organizational development firm based in Colorado dedicated to “Helping Organizations Make Personal Accountability a Core Value.” A 1980 graduate of Cornell University, John has been involved in the training and speaking industry since 1986. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Karen. They have seven children and three grandchildren.

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31 Responses to “No Excuses Driving: 13 QBQ! Rules for the Road”

  1. Catherine Stewart

    I could use work on #4 – responding with humility and courtesy … in life, generally, not just on the road!

    Reply
  2. Doug Waterman

    Aw, busted!
    Thanks John, a message to help remind me that I need to lead by example.
    NO EXCUSES!!

    Reply
  3. Kim S.

    Great article and I love the 13 QBQ! Rules for the Road. Also, thanks for granting permission to reproduce this document (in its entirety). Working for an organization with over 7.000 trucks, we are always looking for quick yet impactful ways to remind our employees to be safe. Thank you for sharing and continuing to help make a difference in our organization.

    Reply
  4. Jon D Harrison

    John – I’ll be saving this one, for sure! Glad to hear Ricardo is safe as well.

    As a son of a firefighter/paramedic, most of these have been drilled into my head. QBQ immediately entered my mind, when just this past Monday I was involved in a hit and run on the highway.

    I was hit, the other driver then ran. (I did however, snap a picture of the license plate) I immediately began to think, how I could have prevented this situation? I realized that I was in traffic during rush hour, so the next day I committed to leaving the house early – and I beat the traffic.

    So as much as avoiding 3am is important, I also personally commit to avoiding the peak rush hours on the highway.

    Reply
  5. Wayne Holly

    John,

    You might want to:
    1. Move the seat belt rule to the top. I’ve had two accidents, one at 65mph and the other being rear-ended. I was wearing a seat belt, as were the other drivers, and we all walked away without any injuries.
    2. Here’s one to add to the list – No reading while you’re driving. I pass probably one car a month on the Interstate that has a driver reading a book, magazine or the newspaper. Yike!

    Reply
  6. Jason Hurley

    My biggest problem is #13. I’m always trying to do things up until the last minute I need to leave and invariably, it makes me late. Thus, I end up rushing where I need to go and that doesn’t always lead to the safest driving habits.

    However, one thing I’d like to point out is #3 and it relates to your story on Ricardo (so amazing he’s okay!). Whenever I’m going through an intersection – but especially after my light has just turned green – I will still look both ways. Not only don’t I trust other drivers, but emergency vehicles could be coming too. The extra turn of the head in both directions is worth the peace of mind that I won’t be broadsided!

    Reply
  7. Cathy Coplen

    I need to work on 6. I do talk on the phone when driving. I printed a copy to give to my teenage son. The worst mistake I have seen is a car pulling out in front of a truck and getting hit. Everyone was ok but scary!

    Reply
  8. Reymie Van Surksum

    Learned a hard lesson w/ #9. Only takes a split second of taking your eyes off the road can result in a costly accident! Thank you for the reminders. Will be passing this info on to my kids..

    Reply
  9. Ruth Lunde

    I’ve been in one serious car accident in my life. I was age 30 & pregnant with our fourth child. I could have and should have avoided & prevented the accident, but I was in a hurry, wanting to hurry home from work. The accident started premature labor. Fortunately, it was not much worse, which it could have been. My son Bryan was born at 36 weeks gestation. Now Bryan is 30 years old, but the accident seems like it was yesterday. Thank you for the QBQ Rules of the Road. I want to keep striving to become a better driver.

    Reply
  10. John Hayden

    Thanks for the reminders. I learned a long time ago that when driving, keep your eyes on the road. Nothing is more important than what is in front of you. I have driven between 1.4 and 1.5 million miles for my company and, praise the Lord, I have never had an accident. I am not bragging on my driving ability, I have had many close calls, but the Lord has protected me. I don’t want to test Him.

    Reply
  11. Patti Oelkers

    Great rules. We just started a Safety Committee where I work and one of the ideas we had was to share Healthy Tips. Our company delivers propane gas, bulk oil and have a grocery store plus 3 C-Stores. So we have employees of all ages. Whether it will be the Truck drivers, employees driving to work or the teenagers on our staff, I know it will be a great list to hand out. Thanks again.

    Reply
  12. Dave Jeary

    John,

    Thanks so much for sharing. It is a great reminder that changing the tune on the radio or ipod can have life impacting consequences for yourself, someone you care about or the person driving the other vehicle. I am going to share with the folks on the safety committee at work and family at home. Oh in case you did not get it from above the one I need to work on is #9.

    Thanks again,
    Dave

    Reply
  13. Bruce Tenenbaum

    John,

    #13 is what I need to work on most. I always think I can sneak in one more thing before I leave; before you know it, I’m running late. And then I get angry when the lights don’t turn in my favor. If I were to leave 5 minutes earlier, when I know I should, it would take a lot of stress out of driving. Thanks for your awesome wisdom and insights, Bruce.

    Reply
  14. Chris

    After 30 years of professional school bus driving, my number one rule is drive defensively. Always expect the other driver to do the WRONG thing. At an intersection when your traffic light turns green, hesitate and look both ways before entering the intersection. Too many people are in a hurry to an accident.

    Reply
  15. Chip Thompson

    Putting the phone down is one thing I have to work on. Although this is getting better.

    The big one is leaving early. This almost never happens. In fact I am making it 15 min early or I’m late already.

    Reply
  16. Mike

    The worst mistake I have been involved with was getting rear ended last year. I know the young man behind me made a mistake. He didn’t admit to it, but I’m pretty sure he was checking his phone instead of looking at the road.

    I found my own reaction to the event kind of interesting though. I can’t help thinking of the event without trying to figure out how I could have avoided the accident. What could I have done differently?

    I didn’t realize it until now…in this situation, I have been using the QBQ technique of personal accountability.

    Reply
  17. Monica

    #9 is the one I need to work on. With a long commute to and from work I find myself everyday trying to juggle driving with my cup of tea in the morning and my diet soda in the afternoon. I’ve never had an accident while doing any of these things, but I’m not 100% sure that I’ve never caused an anxious moment or two for other drivers on the road.

    The worst driving mistake I have seen recently is a driver who was set up to go through an express EZ pass toll lane on the turnpike I travel every day to work. Upon realizing that they did not have an EZ pass the driver stopped at the entrance to the lane. I was directly behind this driver and had to slam on brakes to avoid hitting them, as did the driver behind me to avoid rear ending me. As traffic streamed by in the other lane the driver in this car motioned their intent to back up so they could go to the appropriate ticket only toll lane. Not what you want to see happening before 6 am in the morning.

    Reply
  18. Kathy Swarthout

    I assumed that the school bus and the car beside it was going to start forward again since neither had brake lights on and the school bus did not have its Stop sign extended. When I realized they were chatting and not moving, I was too close to stop and rear-ended the car. Luckily, no one was hurt, especially my grandson who was in his car seat. He was three at the time. I learned a lesson: the car in front is stopped unless i see forward progress. That was two years ago and my grandson still reminds me to stop if the car in front is stopped.

    Reply

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