5th August 2013

Avoid Accidents Through Anticipitory Driving Skills

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Avoiding Accidents
If more people would just pay attention, there would be significantly fewer accidents. Yes, there would still be many idiots behind the wheels of their cars, but they, and the accidents they cause can be avoided.
Here are some of ways that I avoid problems.
You’re driving along and see that you are approaching a freeway on-ramp (they should be referred to and used as acceleration ramps, but that’s a subject for another blog post) and you’re in the far right hand lane. Do you stay in the lane and force the merging cars to have to also merge with your vehicle? Or do you move over the the left one lane, and do your part to keep traffic moving? What about when you are approaching a slower moving vehicle? Do you wait until you are right behind it before you decide you need to get over to go around it? It’s those cars that are trying to get over at the last minute that cause most of the accidents, by being a slower moving vehicle themselves attempting to get into the faster moving lane.
I also look out for people wearing neck braces for two reasons. First, they are not very likely to be able to look over their shoulder before changing lanes. Second, it is my belief (I may be right or I may be wrong, but why take a chance, right?) that people who wear neck braces are more likely to play the sympathy card to an investigating officer in the event of an accident, even if an accident was their fault to begin with. Why take a chance, right?
I also avoid cars with existing dents in them. Chances are, if they got into one accident, they are more accident prone in my book, and I avoid those cars. Also, now that they’ve got a dent in their car, it’s possible that they’re not that concerned about getting another. Especially if they didn’t care enough to get the other dent fixed to begin with.
I have successfully avoided being rear-ended four times by using my rear view mirror to see cars coming up on me too fast and me either getting out of their way in time, or honking my horn to cause them to pay attention (yes, even the cars behind you can hear your horn), or by timing my slow down appropriately so I don’t slow down so abruptly that the car behind me (who was following me too closely to begin with) can’t react in time.
If you just get into the habit of paying attention, and being proactive in your driving, rather than reactive, you’ll find that the close calls just keep getting fewer and fewer until the only accidents you can’t avoid, will be the ones in parking lots!

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5th August 2007

Long time no post!

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wisdrivers.JPGI suppose I should try to stay on top of this blog just a bit more since this really is (my personal opinion of course) an important issue to discuss. But I am travelling three weeks out of every month and administering a forum as well as another blog, so forgive my lack of attentiveness here.

 I just recently returned from Wisconsin. One of the benefits of travelling all over the US is that I get to see all kinds of drivers. Wisconsin drivers only get my bad driving award for two reasons–first, they will pull out into your lane, cutting you off, even though it’s quite obvious that you are about to pass them and the vehicle in front of them. Then, they slowly (and I do mean slowly) pass the vehicle they were behind a moment ago. And they can make that experience last up to five mintes as they inch past the vehicle, forcing you to slow to their speed and preventing you from getting around them and the other vehicle. If they had just waited ten more seconds, you would have been able to blow right by them and then they could perform their slow motion passing maneuver without inconveniencing you. Now that I think about it, Minnesota drivers do the same thing. I guess the residents of both states are cut out of the same cloth.

Now it’s your turn. What state do you think has the worst drivers?

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26th January 2007

Why are there so many bad drivers out there?

It seems that everywhere I go, I am confronted with people whose driving skills leave something to be desired. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve begun wondering why there are so many bad drivers out there sharing the roads with the rest of us. Here are some possible weak links in the bad driver equation.

The lack of quality of driver instruction that is offered to new drivers – You’ve heard the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.” After trying to help my daughter learn how to drive and having her argue with me about what she should be doing because her driver’s ed teacher told her something contradictory to what I was teaching her. Now I’ve come up with a twist on the old saying, “Those who can’t do, teach–those who can’t teach, teach driver’s ed.” My niece had gone through a driver’s ed course through her school and had also taken driving lessons through a professional driving school. When I say “professional” I use that term quite loosely here. I was appalled at the lack of knowledge, skill and general awareness that my niece exhibited in her driving after having recieved so much instruction. As I taught her critical skills I have included in my own driving curriculum, I would ask her if any of the information sounded familiar to her at all. Most of the time her response was negative. Withoug a good foundation, a drivers abilities will be sersiously lacking. It should be noted here that good driving habits are built on the foundation of five pillars and I’ll give a brief discussion of each.

Knowledge
The first pillar is knowledge. You have to know and understand the rules of the road and the situational circumstances in which to apply them.

Skill
Contrary to popular opinion, practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practices makes perfect. For example, learning how to drive in the snow and mastering the ability to control a fishtail can only be accomplished by going to a snowy parking lot and fishtailing (not just doing “donuts”) around the parking lot until you begin to understand the feel our your car driving in such conditions. And even then, until one understands the nuances of various kinds of snow and how that impacts the car’s driving characteristics in the snow, they have not yet mastered the “skillset” incorporated in winter driving. That’s just one example. The bottom line is that if someone does not regularly practice skills like the “2/12″ rule, or how to consistantly drive in the center of their lane, they will not be “skillful.”

Alertness
Many people are way too distracted to be behind a wheel. Whether they are talking on their cell phone, disciplining their children, or just not paying attention to their driving in general, they are not paying attention to the top priority of the moment as they barrel down the road in a 1/2 ton piece of metal and plastic with wheels. When people are not paying attention, collisions will occur.

Awareness
Awareness is the ability to combine knowledge, skill and alertness and the ability to apply them to any given situation you will encounter while driving. For example, you may be perfectly alert, and yet still not have it occur to you (due to lack of awareness) that when a car is merging onto the hightway and you are in the far right lane, that the best thing to do to keep from creating a bottleneck in traffic, is to move over a lane so the car can merge unobstructed by you. I would say that only one in ten drivers is aware.

Courtesy
People tend to forget their manners when they get behind the wheel of a car. And yet, it is those common courtesies (which are no longer so common) that help to facilitate the smooth flow of traffic unencumbered by the idiots that zig and zag in and out of lanes, or the clueless jerks that drive slower than the flow of traffic in the left lanes. Little things like letting a car cut in front of you when you can see that there are quite a few cars behind you that might not let him/her in can make all of the difference in one’s driving experience. Please be courteous.

Bad drivers abound. But if you pay attention to these things I’ve talked about and work on putting it all together, then it’s unlikely that you will ever be lumped into that category.

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18th January 2007

Lawmakers create bills to punish careless drivers

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Picture of girl drivingHoping to justify their existence and to make it appear they are actually doing something to help the voters who elected them, lawmakers in several states are drafting laws to crack down on distracted drivers. Here’s an example of one bill being considered. There’s one fatal flaw in attempting the passage of such laws. They are geared to treat the symptoms rather than the disease. If they really wanted to make a difference, here’s how they would fix the problem.

First, deputiize all citizens. Encourage them to mount a video camera on the dashboard of their vehicle and pay them half the fine for turning in bad drivers by submitting taped evidence of traffic offenses. Even though they are giving up half their fine, police revenue will jump significantly. I could bring in $10 grand a week just by taping singles in the carpool lane! For their first ticket, make the offender watch a driving safety movie and take a brief test on its contents. For the second violation, place them at strategic intersections four four hours with a video camera taping traffic offenders and then have them spot the dummy. Third offense requires mandatory enrollment in my 12 lesson driving safety course for which they will have to pay $1,000 to take (in addition to paying their fine), the money from which I will use to fund this website and my flying habit (no Sally Fields jokes here please). For their fourth ticket they get their license suspended for six months and find out how much fun it is to ride on mass transit! Hey, if they haven’t learned their lesson by that time, they deserve to be a pedestrian. I guarantee that with such a law/program in place, people would begin to pay more attention to their driving and we would be one step closer to our goal of zero fatalities. So until our elected officials start enacting laws like the one described above, I would venture to say that our politicians are just full of hot air (or something).

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17th January 2007

What do you mean I’m a bad driver? Define bad driver!

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Traffic on busy freewayI guess it’s not really fair to be throwing out the label of bad driver and assigning it to people without really identifying and defining just exactly what bad drivers do that makes them bad. Well, I could name a myriad of traffic infractions and just downright rude behavior and cite those as evidence of bad driving–which they are…but, I can make it even simpler. Defining bad driving can be distilled down to a single sentence. Ready? Here goes. I’m quoting myself here so listen up! “A bad driver is someone who habitually forces other drivers to adjust to their driving.” You don’t think it that makes sense? Well try this on for size.

When you are driving along and suddenly a driver pulls out in front of you and forces you to slow your vehicle down, that driver has caused you to adjust to their driving. If a driver runs a red light and you have to slam on your brakes to avoid a traffic accident, then that driver has caused you to adjust to their driving. If a driver veers into your lane on the freeway and you have to veer as well or hit your brakes or both, then that driver has caused you to adjust to their driving. Think about all of the times you’ve cursed at another driver for being an idiot. It’s simply because that driver forced you to adjust your driving to theirs. And you didn’t like it. If you hadn’t adjusted then you would have hit them–making you an equally bad driver. So next time you accuse another driver of being bad, stop and think about the times you’ve forced someone to adjust to your driving. I’ll admit it–I’ve done it before; not very often mind you, but I’ve been guilty of not paying attention every once in a long while. Ask yourself if the driver made you adjust to his/her driving (not the collective traffic as a whole, cause that’s a different scenario altogether), and if he did, then you can correctly identify him/her as a bad driver. And from now on, start paying attention to the times you cause someone to adjust to your driving. It’ll make you a better driver–I promise!

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16th January 2007

I need help!

Mount up your dashcams and start getting those bad drivers on tape. The best videos will be on our weekly vlogcast. To get us your video, you can either put it up on YouTube and let us know the link, or you can send a VHS or digital video tape snail mail to our P.O. Box. If you have a funny or interesting story about bad drivers, please submit those as well. We’ll put them up on our blog site and if we really like the story, we’ll also give mention to the best stories on our vlogcast. Also, now I’ve got the blog site set up, but now I need someone with some WordPress know how to help get this site up to snuff. Any takers?

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16th January 2007

Talking on a cellphone while driving–dangerous or not?

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Driver on cell phoneWithin the last five years I have seen several studies performed by researchers at various universities attempting to draw a correllation between bad driving and talking on the cell phone. Whlie I agree that there are many many people out there who can’t eat a donut, shave, drink coffee, put on makeup, read the paper, or follow their GPS and drive while performing any combination or even one of the aforementioned tasks, I believe that their driving skills are generally flawed even if they were driving only and not performing any other task. So to all of you University Professors and research assistants, I am throwing down the proverbial gauntlet. I think your research methods are fundamentally flawed because you are making the presumption that people are good drivers before you put a cell phone in their hands. How wrong you are. I would venture to say that if you found good drivers and put them through the same driving conditions your experiments call for, they would do just fine with or without a cell phone. So here’s my challenge. Call me up and put me in your driving simulator and subject me to even more rigorous driving conditions than you did your other test subjects, and I promise you that I will out perform all your other test subjects. Wait, let me clarify here. Whatever your conclusions were about their driving without cell phone in hand, I will beat those results while talking on a cell phone.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant here. In fact I only want to do this to prove a point. That point being that there are more bad drivers on the roads than not. Most people do not have the ability to concentrate while in traffic and anticipate what other drivers may do before they do it. Just for an example, I never get caught behind a slow moving vehicle or in merging traffic when the left lanes are flowing smoothly because I see those traffic hazards long before most people do and I adjust before they impede me and cause me to slow down (which as you know has an according effect on the cars behind you who also didn’t adjust). So put me in your simulators professors, and I’ll school you on how you should really be conducting your experiements for more accurate data. That is unless you’ve already formulated your hypothesis and are simply constructing an experiement simply to prove your hypothesis. If, on the other hand, it’s truth your after, then get a hold of me and I’ll be there.

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15th January 2007

Vent Away!

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Picture of a paintball gunIf it were up to me, drivers would be allowed to carry paintball guns with special marking paint to shoot at the cars driven by bad drivers. Every time someone cuts you off, runs a red light, drifts into your lane or drives slow in the fast lanes, you can tag their car with a paintball. this would serve to warn other drivers on the road to avoid cars with multiple paint spots. People would also be more likely to pay attention to their driving so they wouldn’t get tagged quite so often. Of course there would likely be abuse of the system, but this is a small price to pay to improve road conditions and relieve my frustrations at the same time!

So, this blog is an alternative to the “ideal” system of marking cars belonging to bad drivers. Here’s how I think it should work (although I am certainly open to suggestions of other likeminded individuals who are interested in outing bad drivers wherever they may lurk). I’m going to categorize the blog pages by city and state. Carry your digital camera or mount your video camera as a dash cam to record the idiots out on the road and post them on this site and then describe in as much detail as you want what they did that you think makes them a bad driver. While we may not succeed in removing the bad drivers from the roadways, at least we’ll have vented–and hopefully that will make us all feel better.

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