Tuesday, December 12

Safe Driving Tips

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Safe driving tips

The #1 rule for safe driving is: pay attention.

Pay attention to your vehicle. Keep it maintained properly. Good tires, with plenty of tread and properly inflated, are essential to safe driving. A tire failure at 70 MPH can be a gut-wrenching (and possibly fatal) experience. Proper maintenance means that when you start hearing that funny noise or when one of those mysterious lights on the dashboard comes on you need to have it checked promptly and the problem corrected. Cars do not fix themselves. Problems that are ignored will nearly always get worse. A vehicle that is not in good operating condition is inherently dangerous.

Pay attention to weather and road conditions. The road that you navigate with ease at 70MPH on a sunshiny day can be very dangerous in a heavy rain. There are often low spots on the road where water will pool and create a risk for hydroplaning. And of course, when there is snow or ice on the road it becomes much more dangerous and speed must be reduced. By the same token, a road that is undergoing construction work should be traversed more slowly. There will be barricades and machines and road workers and the previously straight course may have some twists and turns in it. Slow down a bit and increase your chances of arriving safely.

Watch what you do around tractor-trailers. Most of the drivers of these behemoths are professional and cautious. They pay attention to their surroundings and usually know what is going in their vicinity, left and right of them and in front and behind them. If you come up behind a big rig and get so close you cannot see the truck’s mirrors, the driver of the truck cannot see you. In most cases the driver saw you approach and knows you are back there but you cannot be sure. So you should either back off a bit or get in another lane and pass him.  Another area to avoid is the right front of the truck. The driver probably cannot see your car if you are right next to the truck. If you must pass on the right, just do it and get well in front where you are visible again. The main thing to remember when driving in the vicinity of big rigs is that if your vehicle and the truck or trailer tangle, you lose. It will not matter a great deal to you if what you did was legal if it gets you killed. You just need to understand that an 80,000 pound rig will crush your car and it will not help a bit if your actions were technically, legally correct.

Driving safely requires paying attention to what you are doing. The focus of your attention must be on driving and not on cell phone chatter, putting on makeup, reading the newspaper, going through papers in your briefcase, or using tweezers on your eyebrows. I have witnessed all of these actions by other drivers, often in heavy traffic, and I try to avoid being anywhere close to them. They are “an accident looking for a place to happen”.

Even if you are paying close attention to your driving and surrounding traffic and road conditions, bad driving habits can get you in trouble. Speeding, tailgating, changing lanes abruptly and without signaling, and racing to get through a yellow light before it turns red are all dangerous practices, for you and the vehicles around you. I drove a tractor-trailer nation-wide for many years and have not had a speeding ticket since 1985. Other drivers say they have to go as fast as they can to meet their schedule or to make as much money as they can. What they are really talking about is poor planning. I never got speeding tickets, yet I was always on time for pick-up or delivery, and I made as much money as any of them (more than most).


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