Driving tips from a seasoned motorist
I have collected several tips in my years of driving that have saved me from accidents many times. I would like to share them both with drivers who might not have thought of them, and particularly with parents who might be teaching young people to drive. Note that these are my own thoughts and have not been endorsed by anyone!
• Don’t drive next to anyone. If you are on a freeway or multi-lane road, move ahead or back so that you are next to a gap between cars. This will give you someplace to go if you have to swerve in an emergency, such as if there is a big object in the road. Never feel comfortable if someone is driving right next to you.
• If someone is entering the road you are on, look for their eyes. If they are looking someplace else, they don’t know you are there and might pull out in front of you. This is especially important if you are on a motorcycle. I have often stopped completely on a through road, people behind yelling at me, because of someone looking elsewhere only to have them pull right out.
• Watch for someone changing lanes into the same lane you are changing into. On a three-, or more, lane freeway, it really takes deliberate looking to spot someone on the opposite side moving into the gap you are also moving into. If you are changing lanes into a middle lane, don’t do it if you are driving into the blind spot of the car on the opposite side of the middle lane – they won’t know you are there.
• Learn to drive through narrow gaps. An exercise I use is to hang a tennis ball on a string from a tree overhanging the road right at mirror height. Practice so your student can zip by and just nick the tennis ball. At 50 mph.
• Learn to swerve. If the car ahead of you plows into the car ahead of them, this is the only maneuver that will let you miss the mayhem.
• Follow a big truck in heavy traffic. They can see ahead over the tops of all the SUVs with tinted windows and pick a steady speed instead of stopping and going. Also a big truck is not going to stop suddenly – you always will have plenty of time to react.
• Young people learning to drive – no tunes. The distraction picking CDs or iPod tunes is as bad as cell phones.
• Mistaken courtesy. Be aware of traffic behind you before stopping to let someone in – especially if it makes everyone miss the traffic light. If you have the right-of-way at an intersection, take it. It will confuse everyone if you insist someone else should go. Following the rules will not confuse others.
Ron Milner lives in Grass Valley.
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