When we usher in a new year, we often review our behavior, identify areas of desired improvement, and resolve to make changes. Concerning driving, an annual appraisal can enhance safety for all of us. Here are some reminders for a 2016 checkup:
1. Know the rules of the road. Follow the established laws for proper driving. When in doubt, check state and municipal statutes online or in official state driving guides.
2. Know your vehicle. Owner’s manuals are worthwhile reading material. Accessory and feature operation can be complex on today’s option-laden cars and trucks.
3. Control vehicle speed. The speed limit is the speed limit, especially enforced in school and construction zones. Often, mass traffic flow tends to be 3-4 miles per hour over the limit, and is generally tolerated. Any amount in excess of the limit can get you a ticket, however, and flagrant speeding is downright unsafe. Excess speed is a causal factor in most wrecks.
4. Don’t tailgate. Riding near someone’s rear bumper will not speed them up, may cause a rear-end collision that is your fault, and is a precipitating factor in road rage.
5. Devote full attention. Don’t use the isolation of your vehicle to daydream, dwell on life’s difficulties, use electronic devices, or submit to distraction of any kind. Proper vehicle operation requires full cognition, especially when the unexpected arises.
6. Look ahead. A good way to prepare for the “unexpected” is to look as far down the road as you can. The earlier you spot a potential emergency, the better chance you have of successfully reacting to it.
7. Verify right-of-way. For example, even if you face a green light at an intersection, back off the “gas” and make a visual check for cross traffic before committing to proceed. You may have the right of way, but an accident can happen if the other driver does not yield it to you.
8. Share the road. Don’t hold prejudice toward entities unlike yours. In other words, automobile drivers, motorcyclists, bike riders and pedestrians should understand and accommodate their inherent differences and rights to the roadways.
9. Merge effectively. Identified as one of the most difficult maneuvers to accomplish efficiently, try merging well. The vehicles on the freeway have no legal responsibility to move left to allow a merge, though they can if traffic allows. The best procedure is to observe vehicles upon the freeway as you travel along the entrance ramp, adjusting timing and speed to enter a “break” in traffic just ahead or just behind others.
10. Don’t condemn others. Grousing about others’ driving habits is common, but don’t let it become a habit. If it happens often and to a high degree, it is a precursor to road rage. If everything other drivers do irritates you, you are not in a proper state of mind to drive well. A patient, relaxed approach is a better mindset and safer too! If someone is driving abnormally, there might be a reason for it. Maybe there’s an emotional, physical or medical cause behind their behavior, and it’s up to you to allow for that and avoid an accident.
Driving is not extremely difficult most of the time, but in traffic, during foul weather and when emergencies rise, vigilance and readiness are paramount. It’s best to develop the habits that will serve your safety and that of others for all times and circumstances.
Readers may contact Bill Love via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.