Man About Menifee: Driving Defensively Has Many Aspects

By David Baker

I suppose I'm like a lot of guys. I owe a great deal to my dad for his influence on the person I grew up to be. I hear myself laughing at the same jokes, using the same expressions and playing the same games with my kids that my dad played with me.

It wasn't all games, though. My dad taught me a lot of important skills as well. He taught me how to interlock two crescent wrenches so I can get more leverage. He taught me how to change the tire on my bike. He taught me never to put my hand in a woman's purse; if she needs something, bring her the purse because your hand does not belong in there. He also taught me how to drive.

When it came time for me to learn how to drive, I was excited but nervous all at the same time. My dad talked me through it and helped me learn. One of the phrases he used repeatedly that has stuck with me to this day was, "Always expect the other guy to do something stupid." This was of course his way of telling me to drive defensively.

This rule not only applies to driving but often times can apply to life as well.

When I first moved to Menifee, I was working in Temecula. It was then that I was introduced to the nickname for this area, which is Trafficula.

Every time I drive, I generally see somebody doing something that reinforces that nickname. Just driving around town this Thursday, I saw:

-- A teenager in a black Mustang showing off for his friends, laying rubber front of the high school.
-- A gentleman who was clearly old enough to know better waiting to the last minute to merge, then block two lanes of traffic.
-- A motorcyclist popping wheelies in the Target parking lot.

In the last week, I've seen at least two stories on Menifee 24/7 regarding fatal or near fatal crashes here in town.

So when I teach my children about driving in addition to my dad's rule, I add a few of my own.

Rule number one: Being an obedient driver is more important than being a courteous driver. If everyone just follows the rules of the road and proceeds when it is their turn and behaves in a way that is predictable, then everyone stands a better chance of getting home in one piece.

Rule number two: Don't let someone else's behavior on the road dictate yours. If someone doesn't like how fast you're going, that doesn't mean you have to speed. Let them go around you.

Rule number three: Stay Zen. If someone else is bobbing and weaving in and out of traffic and seems intent on hurting themselves, let them. Just increase the distance between your car and theirs.

These are the rules I try to impress on my kids when we have conversations about driving. These are also the rules I try to follow every time I get behind the wheel.

If you could get everybody on the road to follow at least one rule, what would it be?

David Baker, our Man About Menifee, writes about his adventures in and around town every Friday in this space. You may leave comments for him here or email him at


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