This post could be thought of as way off my typical topics, but not so much as you may think. I love all the people in my life, and wishing only for long lives and happiness for all of you is what is leading to this post. Please read, share, and consider.
Not to be morbid, but we passed three major accidents today on our trip from our South house to North. I will claim some amount of experience to back the information I want to share. I have driven well over a million miles, crossed the country a dozen times plus, driven in all 50 states, driven a 40′ Class A Motorhome towing a minivan, a 27′ Class C towing a pickup truck, and an 18 wheeler. I went to driving school to be a trucker. But mostly, I have taken the Smith System driver safety classes twice. The Smith System ( http://www.smith-system.com ) is a driver school which teaches Safe driving classes to fleet drivers, truckers, and other groups.
So, for the love and safety of those I love, I want to share some driving tips. Some of you may consider these all obvious. Some may know them all, but even so, reminders never hurt. When it comes to my life, I know I appreciate them:
1) First – and should be most obvious, but we constantly see it not being observed – when you are driving, driving is the MOST important thing you are doing! Not talking to your passengers, not worrying if someone just spilled a coke all over your new car, not yelling at your kids, certainly not texting – NOTHING is more important than driving. Driving gets your attention. Period.
2) ALWAYS wear your seatbelt. Aside from my own one major accident where my seatbelt clearly saved my life, there are many studies that support that they do. Never mind the laws (front seat / back seat, whatever). If there is a seatbelt, wear it.
3) Know your equipment. When my daughter learned to drive, I kept her in the parking lot early morning at a local college for two months. She had to change speed to speed “Go 40, now 10!”, stop where I told her, not 10′ sooner or later, drive backwards, do a slalom around light poles, park, until the car was second nature to her. I did the same for myself when I first learned to drive.
4) Drive a safe speed. Each 5 miles an hour faster makes the car harder to control in the event of a sudden event of any sort.
5) Slow down in bad weather. When it first begins to rain, the streets may not even seem wet yet. But the water is mixing with the oils on the street, and this is when hydroplaning is actually the most likely.
6) Always keep an escape route. Always know where you will go if there is a sudden need
7) Never sit in another car’s blind spot. Either pass or fall behind. If you are in their blind spot there is a good possibility they might not know you are there.
8) Don’t hang with Semi-trucks. To a car, 18 wheelers are deadly. Accidents between 18 wheelers and cars are not good, to put it mildly. Your odds are much greater than with another car. Rule 7 above goes double for semis. Either pass or stay well behind.
9) Allow other cars to merge or change lanes. Right of way means nothing if it isn’t given to you. I usually move left by freeway entrances if cars are coming on. It is safer.
10) Always know where other cars around you are, and how fast they are going. Look ahead, behind and to each side in a pattern that allows you to have an accurate picture of where you fit in traffic
11) In the process of 10 above, watch for erratic behavior in other drivers. If you see someone weaving or slowing down and then speeding up, this is a good indication that you are dealing with a distracted or impaired driver.
12) Always give stopped vehicles a wide berth. My uncle hit and killed someone who opened their door and stepped out of their car into traffic. Use the same thought for any emergency vehicle, even where not the law. Slow down and/or move over
13) Make sure they see you. Use headlights, turn signals, and use flashers if you need to stop suddenly, are going very slow, or come upon stopped traffic.
14) Consider the car behind you in stopping. If they are following too closely, stop earlier to allow for their reduced stopping distance
15) Use the two second rule, or more. When a car in front of you passes a point, it should be at least two seconds until you reach it.
Lastly, know the driving rules – not enough to just pass the test, but know them… Most of all, drive carefully. Remember, somebody loves you. If you are reading this, I do.