Monday, October 14, 2013

How To Drive Without Causing An Accident

This post seems entirely unnecessary, except that traffic accidents happen every day. I live in the northern Virginia (NOVA) area, and spend a lot of my time suffering because some idiot or another caused a traffic accident while all I'm trying to do is get to work. Traffic accidents happen here so much I'm starting to wonder if it's a weird regional hobby or bizarre sexual fetish.

I'm sure the people who should read this post will not read it, but maybe somebody can forward it to them?

Driving without causing an accident sure seems plenty simple. I've been doing it for about 23 years by this point. Here are my secrets:

1) Following Distance

I took Driver's Ed in 1990. I'm pretty sure one of the first things I was taught was the "4 second rule". For those who slept through that part of Driver's Ed, that means you should be able to pick a reference point ahead of you (telephone pole, mile marker, roadkill, etc) and count "One one thousand, two one thousand..." up to four from the moment the car in front of you crosses the reference point until your car crosses it. This is so simple, but I'm apparently the only person who still observes it, and it's saved my ass many times.

2) Maintain your car

When I was in the Navy, a friend of mine knew his car needed a brake job. He kept letting it go because let's face it, they didn't pay us that much. One day, an F-350 stopped in front of his CRX and his CRX couldn't stop. The F-350 didn't feel it, but the passenger noticed a tiny rice grinder disappear from the mirror so they checked it out. My friend was fine, but the CRX never rode again.

It goes without saying: if you're too much of a dumbass to leave space between the car in front of you and you, at least make sure your brakes work.

3) Don't screw with your radio or phone

Seriously, am I the only person left who knows it's illegal in most states to drive with a phone held up to your ear? My car has Microsoft Sync. I hate talking on the phone, but for those few phone calls I actually want to take, I can now take them over my car's speakers and microphone.

I use Waze a lot. I have a windshield mount so my phone is right in front of me. I recommend you do the same. I do allow myself minor distractions, but no longer than it would take to check a mirror or my gas gauge.

4) Get enough rest

If your weekend plans are to party for 4 days straight then drive non-stop up and down the I-95 corridor, I hate you. I hope you suffer immensely. Most of my 4 hour commutes to work seem to involve somebody who didn't get enough sleep and tried to tackle a New York to Florida run overnight.

5) Don't be afraid to pull over

If you're drowsy, or your children need a beating to shut them up so you can concentrate, or you dropped your breakfast sandwich, just pull off the road.  It's not that hard. It saves lives!
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