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12 Defensive Driving Tips
By Larry Carley c2008
- Never assume the other driver sees you. Whether you are making a turn, changing lanes, pulling out into traffic, or what ever, never assume drivers in oncoming traffic see you or will react correctly to your maneuver. They may be distracted, intoxicated, in a daze or just plain pissed off about something. This is especially important if your are driving a small car or riding a bicycle.
- Never trust a turn signal. How many time do you see vehicles driving down the road with the turn signal on, but they never change lanes or make a turn? The offender is often an old geezer driving a Buick who probably canít hear their turn signal blinking. But I've seen teenage drivers do the same thing because the music blaring from the speakers inside their car is so loud. My advice is do NOT pull out in front of these people assuming they are going to turn, and do NOT try to pass them on the side their turn signal is flashing. But who knows? They may fool you and actually make a lane change or a turn (maybe in the opposite direction!).
- Assume the other driver is a moron. You pull up to a four-way stop a few seconds before another vehicle to your left or right. Who goes first? You should because you got there first, stopped first and have been waiting the longest. But many drivers apparently havenít learned this rule of driving courtesy and may charge ahead totally oblivious to others who might be in their way.
- Leave yourself some maneuvering room when stopping behind another vehicle. When traffic stops, donít get right up on the bumper of the vehicle ahead of you. If youíre on a four lane street, the car ahead of you may be waiting to turn, leaving you trapped until they can make their turn. Even if the vehicle ahead of you is apparently going straight, driverís have been known to suddenly change their minds. Engines have also been known to stall. Leave a car length so you can pull around if the need arises.
- Never try to beat a red light to save time. Nobody likes to waste time sitting at a stop light. But other that wasting a little gas and possibly making you late, it wonít cost you a $150 fine for running a red light, or thousands for collision repairs should you hit somebody or somebody hits you. Many urban areas are now installing red light camera as a way to generate revenue. Big Brother is watching, so when the light turns yellow put on the brakes. And never blow through a stop sign. It could be the last traffic sign you disobey. My brother-in-law recently killed two people in a car who blew through a stop sign in front of his semi-truck. Burning to death pinned in crumpled wreckage beneath a truck is not a fun way to go.
- Be a "heads up" driver. As your speed increases, so should your gaze down the road. Too many drivers get tunnel vision following the vehicle ahead of them, and do not look ahead to get the big picture of what traffic is doing. Itís hard to see around a big SUV or a truck, so donít follow too closely, or change lanes and get behind a car.
- Donít hurry. Be happy! Urban driving can be a challenge, especially during rush hour when everybody is rushing to get to work or rushing to get home. Either way, people can get really pissed if you donít get the #&%@! out of their way. It's the NASCAR mentality that gets their shorts in a bind. Rush hour isnít a race, though it may seem that way. So relax, go with the flow and arrive home happy. Listen to soft rock, religious music or classical music to soothe the soul. Donít listen to hard rock, jangling music, chatter radio (especially if the topic they are blathering about presses your hot buttons). Life is a journey, so enjoy the trip.
- Give the other driver a break. Be the nice guy who lets another driver pull out of a driveway or side street into heavy traffic. Pull over into the left lane on a four-lane highway or interstate is somebody is trying to merge from the right. DonĎt be a jerk. Be nice and be sure to wave. Your good deed will be paid back sooner or later.
- Donít flip off other drivers. They may be packing heat (carrying a gun!). If somebody cuts you off in traffic or makes a driving blunder, a toot on your horn should suffice (the duration of which may increase with the severity of the offense). Giving some idiot the finger is a good way to encourage more obnoxious behavior. That, in turn, may start a game of "getting even" which can lead to road range, people trying to run other people off the road or punch each other out. Itís not worth it. See rule #3.
- Be Polite. Stay Right. And Step on the Gas when you Pass. One of my personal pet peeves is drivers who get in the left lane on a four lane highway or interstate (which is supposed to be the PASSING lane), and they poke along blocking others who might want to pass. Big trucks are notorious for doing this. Theyíll roll along for mile after mile, two abreast blocking traffic, not daring to adjust their cruise control slightly for fear they might use an extra drop or two of diesel fuel. In Germany, SLOWER drivers stay to the RIGHT and FASTER drivers stay to the LEFT And when a faster driver comes up behind you and flashes their high beams, it means "Pull over, I want to pass you." Here, if somebody comes up fast behind you and flashes their headlights, they usually get the finger in the rear view mirror. Thatís why we donít have autobahn highways with no speed limits. Too many morons behind the wheel.
- Go Right! UPS says it saves a ton of fuel as well as delivery time by avoiding LEFT turns. Your odds of being rear ended or having an accident in the middle of an intersection are greatly reduced by turning RIGHT as much as possible. We have a T-intersection at the end of our street, and at least once a month somebody gets rear ended or t-boned trying to make a left turn from a busy four lane road onto our street.
- Give Truckers a Break, not the Brakes. Big semi-trucks are HEAVY, with some hauling loads of 60,000 to 80,000 lbs. They canít stop on a dime, or a quarter, or a hundred dollar bill. So donít cut them off in traffic, or zip into the lane ahead of them and suddenly hit your brakes. The truck will run over you like a steam roller, and it will be a closed casket funeral.
Safe Driving Links:
70 Safe Driving Trips
Think Before You Drive
Center for Auto Safety
Collision Safety Institute
National Highway Traffic Safety Institute (NHTSA)
Safercar.gov (NHTSA vehicle safety information resource)
Why I'd Rather Drive than Fly
Crash Tests & Vehicle Safety Ratings
Auto Accidents: Mechanical Problems That Increase Your Risk
Watch Out For Old Tires
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