3/8/2011 1:17 PM ET|
Road warriors' safe-driving tips
People who spend their working hours behind the wheel know they're always a short distance from danger. They've learned some surprising ways to reduce the risks.
Think you drive a lot? Imagine spending three, four, even seven or more hours a day behind the wheel.
A day in the life of a road warrior is filled with tailgaters, cut-off artists, rage-filled fellow drivers and speed demons bearing down in their rearview mirrors.
To stay safe and keep their car insurance rates low, these pros have figured out ways to avoid tickets and crashes.
Shaking off tailgaters
Not only is tailgating annoying, it's dangerous.
"Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving and a major contributor to crashes," says Jim Peterson, a driving instructor in Chicago. Not to mention that it's hard to see anything when your rearview mirror is filled with the grill of the car behind you.
Liz Egan, a 20-year veteran gift-basket delivery driver in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., travels as many as 160 miles a day and says she typically drives "fairly fast within the 'implied' speed limit and keeps up with the flow of traffic."
To discourage a driver who "rides" her rear bumper, Egan simply slows down. "I just take my foot off the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow down until the tailgater gets impatient and goes around me."
Reducing road rage
Adrian Miller, a sales trainer and consultant in the Albany, N.Y., area, has been a road warrior for 24 years. She logs more than 500 miles a week, and says harmonious melodies keep her from getting worked up behind the wheel.
"Fantastic music helps me manage road rage," she says. Miller has an "on the road" playlist on her iPod and never gets behind the wheel without great CDs that make her feel happy.
Rick Notter, the author of "Sound Advice: Music's Effect on Life, Health, and Happiness," suggests choosing music that's no more than 145 beats per minute.
"Anything faster may have the reverse effect. Fast music could ramp up your emotions and be extremely exciting, which could lead to you falling victim to rage," he says.
After a long day of work or refereeing the children's shouting matches, it's easy to get distracted. To make sure he's not tempted to drift off while driving, Jay Moyes, a night driver for Access Paratransit, a Southern California company that transports disabled riders for doctor visits, shopping and other activities, never looks at one thing for too long.
"I keep my eyes moving. Instead of looking at one thing for even a few seconds, I continually scan the road, my mirrors, etc."
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Dave's right. Scanning keeps you both eyes-up alert, and informed. Scanning is the key to "Situational Awareness," or "S/A," which is what keeps jet jockeys in the air. Know what's developing around you at the moment and you can predict what's about to happen next. Watch out for "target fixation" in two ways: if you stare at the subject of concern (say, an unattended toddler on the parkway), you might not notice other problems (like his mom darting from the other side of the street, oblivious to your bumper); also, as you focus on the problem, you will naturally steer into it... look where you want to go, not at what you want to avoid.
There is some good advice in this article. First and foremost in my opinion is scanning the road. It has kept me out of trouble more times than I can count. Regardless of how good you drive, you have to deal with those who are careless in their driving plus there is always the "stuff happens" factor. If you are paying good attention, most of it won't happen to you.
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