Michigan Driving Course

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Date Submitted: 02/09/2015 03:31 PM

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Information: Knowing, Interpreting, and Judging

Some driving-related information you must simply know and obey, such as the traffic code. Traffic laws are relatively straightforward. You don't have to think about them too much. They are simple directives. They direct all drivers similarly, and what they command is always clear and must always be obeyed to the letter. In fact, any thinking about the meaning of traffic laws could be classified as overthinking. Even laws that allow for some leeway on the part of the driver assume that the leeway is severely restricted by common sense and shared experience. The Basic Speed Law, for instance—which says that you must drive at a speed that is prudent for the prevailing conditions—assumes that everyone has a firm, shared understanding of what is safe. If a law enforcement officer believes that you have violated this understanding, they are not going to argue the point. You will be cited. So, know the code and obey it.

Beyond the basic know-and-obey material, there is information that also requires you, as an individual driver, to interpret for relevance. An example of this would be traffic signs and signals. Traffic controls combine color, shape, and symbols to communicate meaning in a language all their own. These signs and signals will always mean the same thing, but how you react to them depends on your situation. A school zone sign always means "slow down when children are present." Thus, if you are driving by a school at midnight on a Sunday, you interpret the sign to mean that you may drive up to the posted limit. Other signs, such as guide signs, are only relevant when you are traveling to certain destinations. Some signs—those publicizing roadside services, for instance—can be ignored completely…unless, of course, you think you need those services. Know the language of the road and be prepared to interpret it.

Moving beyond information that needs to be followed to the letter by everyone, and that which needs...