Drive to Survive

There are all kinds of safety gadgets available for your vehicle thanks to the latest in science and technology, like seat belts, air bags, anti locking breaks, rear cameras. Then add the computers installed so all the different components within your car can not only communicate with each other but then tell your service department what’s going on.  Yet with all this, the best functioning safety gizmo still available for any vehicle to date, is, your BRAIN!!

Your brain, a marvel of science, retains all the driver training you’ve received over the years, from your Dad groaning, “the clutch!” to drivers education lessons to actual experiences behind the wheel and in some cases profesional driver training for a  job.  Your brain draws on info in your memory and within split seconds tells you how and when to respond to an emergency.  The brain occupies the same head as your eyes and like a computer, constantly updates data is receives from them as they scan the road ahead. This is all good since you are driving a potential weapon, two tons of plastic and metal at high speeds in rain, snow and pedestrian congestion.  So as your brain processes the movement of surrounding traffic and the various speeds of cars and trucks, changing lanes, slowing and breaking while listening to last nights scores why would you corrupt the data flow by talking on your cell, or texting?

GUESS WHAT, you are NOT the only one on the road!  If you are not aware of what is going on around you, or driving distracted, you have the potential to not only hurt another person but do the unthinkable and take someone’s life if not your own.  There are hundreds of other people driving with you, all in their own little worlds dealing with the trials and tribulations of daily life.  At 60 mph you cover 88 feet in only one second.  That’s a 29 yard pass play in the blink of an eye.  All it takes is just two of you, not paying attention come upon a sudden slow down or someone making a sudden lane change and now you’re a statistic. Your day is ruined and now there’s paperwork, calls to the insurance company, adjustors and repairs and rental cars.  For what?    Responding to someones tweet?  Getting gossip that couldn’t wait for an hour?

I don’t care how much you think you are a multi-tasker.  When you’re busy chatting on your cell phone you are not paying attention to your surroundings, especially if it’s an intense conversation.  In most cases to compensate for being on the phone, you usually drive slower than you think you’re going and everyone is trying to go 60 mph and you’re moving at 40.  So instead of telling everyone they are number 1 when they honk at you, put down the damn phone and drive.  To drive to survive you need to watch the road at all times.  When you’re driving you need to pay full attention constantly scanning up front for changes in flow, vehicle movement and your mirrors.  In addition be polite on the road,  you don’t own it, you share it.  When you have to make a hard stop it’s pretty scary isn’t it?  The car slightly fish tails and you can hear the tires squeal as you hope you’ll stop in time as well as the car behind you.  Now just try to imagine what it would be like to do that same hard stop in a big rig and trailer weighing up to 80,000 lbs. or 40 tons fully loaded.  So why do you race and cut off something 5 times larger than you?  To save a minute?  When did this all become a competition trying to beat the next guy to point A.  If you need to get over, signal, slow down if needed and then change lanes.  Usually the moron that cuts off the truck is not in the accident, it’s the innocent behind the big rig that is stopping.  However If you see a truck driver being unsafe or driving distracted, most of them have a number on the back where it says, “How’s my driving?”  Don’t assume someone else will report the driver, don’t hesitate to make that call and get that driver off the road.  Believe me the company wants that guy off the road as well, since it’s really bad advertising for them to have someone driving one of their vehicles with the logo all over it and texting while driving, (see Your Drivers are ads, Good or Bad. https://bxboy52.wordpress.com/2012/09/22/your-drivers-are-ads-good-or-bad/) If they don’t have that 800 number to call check the cabin door since all trucks in California are suppose to display their state registered number and interstate drivers have USDOT numbers on their trucks to identify them.

Yes, there is always going to be the jerk who feels their time is more important than anyone else and will change lanes at will.  Don’t hate them, since they are not worth your time or energy, just feel sorry for them.    If that jerk cuts you off for that 5 second lead, don’t take it out on the next guy who comes along.  They don’t know you were cut off, why ruin their day?  Let everyone in on your intent.  Use the signal device, that’s what it’s there for.  When dealing with glare from the sun cutting down your visibility, don’t look directly into the sun but to the side and slow down.  Plan ahead.  You know when you need to get off the freeway, don’t wait til the last minute and try to get to the exit lane from the far left.  Your stupidity and laziness is not someone elses problem.  When the weather is bad, again plan and leave early so you can drive a little slower to get to your destination in one piece.

Another important aspect, don’t let any friend or even your enemy drive who are impaired by drink or drugs.  Take their keys and call them a cab.  This is a decision that is easy to make and will keep you from living a life time of guilt.  I always preached to my kids, if they found themselves in that situation or the person they depended on for a ride was intoxicated to call me and I would get them, and they would be spared any judgmental lectures but would get a big hug for making the right call.  As the CHP signs say, report all drunk drivers.  You never know whose life you’ll be saving.

Keep your vehicle in top operating condition as well.  If it’s your personal car have the breaks checked and please don’t wait until you hear metal on metal.  It’s a little late then and will cost you more in repairs.  Don’t wait for the little light to come on to get gas.  Your engine is sucking in all those deposits on the bottom of your gas tank and you never know if you’ll run into a blocked or partially closed highway.  You don’t need to add worry of running out of gas in addition to everything else.  If you’re driving a company vehicle always use your checklist to ensure everything is operating properly and report any mechanical issues to your supervisor.

When something in your vehicle is found to be defective it can be brought in to service and be replaced.  To bad it’s not that easy to fix those who drive distracted or impaired.  That’s why we all need to drive to survive.

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