Driving Tips, Part 3
Vision, Continued: I can’t believe I left out one of the most important rules. Yes, it’s so important, it’s a rule.
It is the natural human tendency to spend more time looking at what is nearest to us. This is fine when checking out “babes,” or whatever you young people call it these days. But, it is very, extremely bad when driving.
Look up the road as far as you can. This allows you to anticipate what might befall you: Car changing lanes, accidents happened or about to, emergency vehicles, lane closures, radar traps, broken vehicles not in the breakdown lane, etc.
This habit (and it surely should become one) will not inhibit your noticing what is happening closer to you. Trust me. What you want to do is lengthen your field of vision, so it encompasses what’s near and what’s far.
Try this: walk onto a long, straight street with cars parked on both sides. Stand there (not in traffic, mind you) and look up the road as far as you can. If any car right near you moves even a little, you will see it. You will see everything. You will become one with the world. No, strike that last part. That’s for my next religious treatise.
It is a known fact, known by me anyway, that most drivers scan only about 30’ to 40’ ahead. This is bad news when it takes the average car 130’ to stop from 60 mph.
My Lotus Elan once broke down on a road with no shoulder. I set up my safety triangles well before the car and turned on my flashers. (Of course, some flashers are more easily turned on than others. But, that’s another topic.) This was a 40 mph straight road. Cars almost hit my furthest triangle about every 2 minutes. These drivers were looking only at the car ahead of them and when that car moved out of the lane, those drivers were nonplussed. (No one is ever plussed, except for pregnant women and people with worms.)
This brings us to….
What You Should Carry in Your Car:
• A good, big flashlight, with fresh (not sassy) batteries.
• Latex gloves for changing a flat without getting dirty.
• A set of 3 Safety Triangles, avail at any auto parts store. Set them very far down the road ahead of you. It doesn’t help to put them so close to your car that another driver crashes into your triangles and you simultaneously. BTW, flares are no good; they don’t last very long and give other cars flat tires.
• A pack of Kents, in case you ever drive me somewhere.
• Tranquilizers, also in case you ever drive me anywhere. We’ll both be taking them; I am the world’s worst passenger. You have no idea. Really.
• One or two cans of Fix-a-Flat. Sometimes it’s safer to use this than change a tire.
• First aid kit
• Blanket, for victims of your poor driving and to keep warm when you break down in the winter.
• A spare tire actually inflated to proper specs.
• A “head light,’ which is another flashlight that straps onto your head so you can see what you’re doing when you need two hands. Can also be good for that fumbling, furtive sex you’re about to start having. This is optional (both the sex and the headlight).
• Spare fuses.
• Duct tape. Trust me.
• In old cars: Spare radiator hoses and fan belts.
• I actually carry 100’ of rope. I could use it for towing someone out of trouble, but I really decided to carry it after watching a horror movie. Don’t ask.
I’m sure I’ll think of other stuff for your trunk later. Perhaps I’ll even check my trunk.
Learn How to Change a Flat: Even if you have AAA, AA, whatever, you need to know this. Your car manual, which I’m sure you read, will tell you what to do. Here’s what it won’t tell you. If you’ve loosened the lug nuts and the wheel is stuck to the axle, lower the car and kick the tire. If that doesn’t work, put the nuts back on a tad loosely. Drive the car two feet. This will loosen the wheel. (It’s stuck because dissimilar metals tend to oxidize together. I use Anti-Seize to avoid this. You can ask me about it.)
Why do you need to know this? Sometimes you can’t wait around for help. Also, no one looks more like a pussy than a guy with a flat waiting for AAA. And, you might have to help some lovely young thing change her tire. Note: Do NOT puncture the tires of lyts to try to meet them. It’s just not fair.
Part Whatever continued:
Vision: Yes, THAT again. It’s important and why they don’t let blind people drive. Although, Ray Charles did a bit. But, probably not well.
This is another rule (i.e. vital). DO NOT outdrive your vision or lights. If it’s foggy and you can see only 30’ ahead, you must drive slowly enough to be able to stop in under 30’.
Otherwise, when you finally see something, you won’t be able to stop in time. You will hit that something. Probably hard.
Same deal with headlights. They go up the road only a finite distance. You must be able to stop in time when they illuminate something with which you’d prefer not to merge. Probably hard.
Common sense is, of course, a misnomer. It’s not common at all. Evidence abounds.
Do you know the difference between genius and stupidity? Genius has its limits.
Merging: Not the above kind, the highway kind. Don’t enter a highway too slowly. After all, you’re trying to merge with cars doing 60. It’s an obvious, but little known, fact that your brakes are more efficient than your engine. You can stop from 60 in about 130 feet, but you can’t accelerate from 0 – 60 in 130 feet. NOTE that this doesn’t mean you should enter the highway at 90; that causes other problems. Remember, no surprises.
Parking Brake: Use it all the time. Well, when you’re stopped anyway. I have a neat pb trick for when and if you ever drive a stick and find yourself on a steep hill (in a car).
To relieve stress on the parking pawl of your automatic transmission, especially on hills, put the parking brake on. When the car settles against it, only then put the car in Park.
Picking the Lane that Will Move the Fastest: Some methods for this are obvious, like getting behind the sports car and not the garbage truck. But, there are other techniques. Don’t get behind old people, especially old men wearing hats. Especially when it’s warm out. Also, don’t pick any lane on any road in Florida.
Want to know the best way to pick the best tollbooth lane? That’s easy: Just get into the lane next to the one I’m in. Actually, all toll collection areas have their own patterns and it pays to learn them if you find yourself there a lot. Usually, it’s the extreme right, but that can be dangerous and I know plenty of toll areas where it’s the extreme left.
Whatever you do, get EZ Pass – or its equivalent in whatever god-forsaken state you inhabit. But, remember to cover it in the foil bag if you are committing a crime and don’t want to be traced.