Identify. Predict. Decide. Execute.

Decades after learning it, I still apply one particular piece of my high school curriculum every day. I apply it without a second thought. It has yet to fail me. When I realize it has worked once again, I think four letters… I P D E.

I learned the lesson of IPDE from a teacher who was a legend in my high school. He took his job seriously, but was probably better known for his propensity for falling asleep. Falling asleep at the drop of a hat might be considered a handicap for a driver’s education teacher.

Sleepy Wasn’t Just A Disney Character

There were two drivers ed teachers at my high school. One, it was said, married a former student as soon as she turned 18. My teacher, the narcoleptic one, was a middle-aged man, who presumably married within his age group.  He did not seem to have an issue staying awake while presenting a lesson in front of the class. His problem cropped up in two places – when the lights were out in the classroom for a film and when he was in the passenger seat of a car.

A 1970's driving simulator. (image via

Drivers education in my school in the late 70’s involved a lot of films. We saw most of them in the “simulator room”. In the simulator room, we would sit in car seats with the dashboard of a car in front of us. These dashboards had everything you’d find in a car – steering wheel, gas and brake pedals and a speedometer. The teacher would show a film on the screen in front of us and ask us to “drive” through the film.

What would actually happen was that the teacher would put on the film and fall asleep. Since there was no connection between how far down we pressed the gas pedal and how fast the film would go, some of us would “drive” at 100 mph, some at 5 mph. This would go on until the film ran out or the teacher woke and would chastise one of the “speeders”.

We all dreamed that some day we would see him drift off to sleep in the car. Legend had it that one day in the past, this teacher had taken some students out on the Washington Beltway for their Interstate Highway driving practice, then fallen fast asleep. He did not wake until he and his students were in Baltimore, a ninety minute drive from my home town. Apparently having to account for that sort of thing once in your career helps keep one a little more alert for the remainder. None of us were able to lull him off to sleep in the car.

Wasn’t This About IPDE?

Oxon Hill, Maryland to Baltimore. 90 minutes, with a 15-year-old driving in heavy traffic. He slept. (image via google maps)

Despite his intense need for sleep, this man got IPDE so far into my cranium that it is the one thing from high school I am certain I can repeat, verbatim. I don’t know how to calculate the length of a hypotenuse. The Italian pluperfect tense still eludes me. I look at the keyboard when I type. But I know that IPDE stands for Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute.

Sleepy taught me that, when driving, I should look ahead to Identify hazards. Once a hazard was spotted, I should Predict what the hazard might do to affect me. Next, I should Decide what I should do about it and Execute the plan I decided on to keep myself from coming to harm. It works. I have not crashed into anything in decades. I don’t give a damn about your hypotenuse. I’ve got IPDE.

IPDE is so successful that I have considered applying it elsewhere in my life. I will roam the earth, watching people and identifying those who I predict mean me harm. I will then decide what to do about what I think they’ll do and execute that decision.

When I apply IPDE outside of driving, I am sure people will say things like “Omawarisan attacked me for no reason”. To some, the plans I’ll execute to avoid the harm I predict they’ll cause might seem random and excessive. I hope that I can count on all of you to speak up on my behalf. Tell those people I did not attack them for no reason, I attacked them for reasons they do not understand. You all know that I don’t just lash out at people, right?




28 Comments on “Identify. Predict. Decide. Execute.”

  1. When I see those letters, my brain rearranges them for me, and I read it as “IPEED.” Which really does bring me back to my drivers’ ed days. One kid totaled the road car during a jaunt.

    My problem seems to stem from jumping straight to “execute.”

  2. Trusting sort, that teacher…hopefully, he wasn’t killed in a fiery crash!

    I like your IPDE idea, Oma, although I really wish the acronym spelled a real word, so I could actually remember it!


  3. Lenore Diane says:

    Wow. I remember driver’s ed. Rob will confirm, I use IPDE all the time. And, I speak it when ever I am using it. I’ll even share the skill when I am backseat driving. (A gift, you know.)
    I’m all for you taking IPDE out of the car and into other areas of life. Rest assured, if we ever meet – I’ll be doing the exact same thing.

  4. Spectra says:

    Interesting application of a driving skill turned metaphor for life. I’ve been applying this general practice since my teens. It works. You can see it coming…Identify what certain behaviors and tones mean, Predict the pattern that will surely follow. Decide how you will respond or extracate yourself from the predicment. Then Execute: get out of the way of that oncoming collision – NOW!

  5. Todd Pack says:

    My high school couldn’t afford those cool simulators. Every day, the driver’s ed teacher would take us out in a car with 2 sets of brake peddles, and three of us would take turns driving while everybody else went to study hall or where ever, as long as we were back in time for our next class. Good times, good times.

  6. Jane says:

    This explains why the driver’s screams always resemble the shwa-like sound, “eeeeeeeeee…. .” By the time he or she has reached the drunken lightpost, she or he has only then gotten to the “e” in “execute.”

  7. I saw your title and thought it was familiar, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t Sandra Bullock’s self-defense advice (which was S.I.N.G.).

    I can’t believe you found a picture of the simulator!! I’ve been trying to describe those to people for years. I thought my high school was the only place that had them, and then I thought maybe I was making them up, along with I.P.D.E. I didn’t immediately remember IPDE — but I remember “separating dangers.”

    We also had Scared-Straight kind of movies, which my teacher called “Crispy Critter” movies – the ones that showed you what it would look like if you actually drove the Washington Beltway the way you drove the simulators.

    Italian Pluperfect was my favorite Disney character.

    • omawarisan says:

      I was surpriseed to find that simulator picture. That was one of those thigns I described to my son and he just couldn’t believe.

      I also looked for old drivers ed movies on Internet Archive so I could just put one on the end of the post. One had a dying cow from a livestock truck accident. The other had a burned body being put in a bag. I opted out.

      Italian Pluperfect. I can still hear that teacher saying that. I have very low blood pressure, then I think of her.

  8. I didn’t take driver’s ed. It was at the same time as advanced French. I thought, oh I can learn how to drive anytime! But the truth is I was afraid to drive because I am slightly distractible and I was convinced I would kill someone.

    I learned after I had my baby, sometime in my mid-30s, when I realized it was that, or stay home for forever when my husband was at work. I hired someone to teach me and he put me on the Interstate the first day. I had never driven a car at all. I had turned one on once, but that was it. It was super-scary.

    I am a right lane driver on highways. I hate to merge or change lanes. I drive a red Honda Fit (red so other people can see me coming) but it seems to have a blind spot. So when I change lanes, it goes like this:

    Identify. Signal. Am I sure? Oh God. Predict. Wait a minute. Now? Cuss. Okay, now! Wait, NOT now. Oh God another car. Where did that one come from? Close eyes. Decide. Pray. Execute. I made it! Oh he looks mad. Cringe. Smile. Wave to other driver. Mouth thank you. Breathe.

    I wish I had made that last part up. It is unfortunately pretty accurate. I drive back roads a lot 🙂

  9. I think what your teacher had in mind when he taught that was

    Identify–if you are in a comfortable spot
    Predict–if you are likely to be interrupted
    Decide–if you have enough time
    Execute–take a nap

    • omawarisan says:

      The story went that he had 3 kids in the car the day they went to Baltimore. They gave him plenty of time. I never knew who the actual students were but, if they exist, they were what everyone aspired to be.

  10. Laura says:

    I don’t remember how much the driving simulators in my driver’s ed class actually simulated. More than yours, I think, but not anything like the real driving experience.

    The one thing I remember from the class was that there was a very specific sequence of places you were supposed to look, in a very specific order (I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was something like front of windshield, rear-view mirror, right side of windshield, left side mirror, etc.), repeated continually while you were driving. Noticing a hazard and deviating from the prescribed sequence to look at it always felt like cheating.

    • omawarisan says:

      There are so many things like that sequence where you can see what they’re trying to get you to do but the idea is just messed up enough to make it kind of dumb. Someone recently told me that you should be looking in a mirror every 8 seconds. Why 8?

  11. Blogdramedy says:

    As I’m on the road, I will apply IPDE. Or try to. Whenever I think of it I have this urge to find a rest room. 🙂

  12. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I didn’t take Driver’s Ed. My mom taught me how to drive. She didn’t use IDPE. Her’s was: Watch out for the cat/squirrel/family/car!! Possibly abbreviated to WOFTCSFC. Catchy, eh?

  13. spencercourt says:

    If most drivers practiced IPED, there’d be far fewer experts. I’ve been practicing it all my driving years but didn’t know it had a formal nomenclature….

  14. planetross says:

    I always IPDE with crosswalk lights on adjoining streets:
    Identify: flashing
    Predict: soon will be redman
    Decide: close enough to make it through the lights.
    Execute: pedal to the medal … 5 miles an hour faster and run through the yellow.

    note: driving education at school? that kind of takes all the fun out of it.

  15. […] ahead (because we know I am all about IPDE), I saw a black cat running for all it was worth toward the busy road. I don’t know what had […]

  16. […] dad taught me to drive. Yes, I took drivers ed, but I drive the way my dad taught […]

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