Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dave's Driving Tips 2/2

More driving tips. Think about these posts while you’re driving - it’ll make you a better driver, and the world will be a better place. I promise.

Don’t pull out in front of other people. It’s dangerous and inconsiderate. So often a driver cuts out in front of me, forcing me to brake hard. Then less than a quarter mile down the road they slow down to turn. Instead wait until there’s a wide opening. You’re not the only car on the road. Plan ahead. If you are going to exit soon, move over from the far left lane to the right line well ahead of your exit – especially if you’re in an unfamiliar place.
Don’t be the person who passes a long line of cars waiting to turn right, then tries to wedge their way in at the front of the line. What jerks. Exception: if traffic is flowing and there are plenty of gaps. But never when cars are stopped.   
When suddenly braking in heavy traffic, quickly check your rear view mirror to make sure the car behind you is braking as well. If not, or it looks like they won’t be able to stop, you may have time to change lanes. This is another reason you should constantly be checking your mirrors, to know not just where the cars are in your lane, but also in the lanes to your left and right.
Driving on ice: don’t. Not even four wheel drive vehicles can stop on ice. You may think you are able to drive in a snow or an ice storm. Even if you can, it’s all the other cars out in the road you’ll need to worry about. You may be in complete control, but another car could lose control and crash in to you. You can’t see black ice. During an ice storm if you have to drive, try to take the flattest route possible. Rarely traveled roads and shady hills ice up first. During winter keep additional warm clothes and a blanket in your car, as well as a flashlight. Make sure your phone is charged before you leave.
The shortest route is not always quickest. Quicker to make right turns than left turns. UPS knows this, and routes their trucks accordingly. Also look for routes with the fewest red lights. For me taking Delk Road / Lower Roswell from I-75 has half the lights as the 120 Loop and Upper Roswell. I-75 is quicker than 400 because I’m making right turns, not lefts. I once drove from Six Flags all the way home to East Cobb without having to stop a single time. If you have to make a left turn, try to make it at a light with dedicated a turn signal.
Crossing major thoroughfares takes additional time, since the light stays green longer for the busier road. Avoid this if possible. I used to take Spaulding east to work. This meant stopping at Holcomb Bridge, Jones Bridge, Peachtree Parkway, Medlock Bridge, and Peachtree Industrial. After twenty years I discovered it’s much quicker to go with the flow down Holcomb Bridge, stop once at PIB, then head north on PIB.
Lights are timed so if you drive the speed limit, you can hit all the greens. When you speed you’re just getting to the next red light faster. By the time the light turns green all the slower traffic has caught up to you.
Drive with your lights on at all times: especially in the rain, and at dusk. So often I see cars driving without lights as the sun goes down. They’re practically invisible. Check to make sure you don’t have your bright lights on. If you’re driving in the country with your brights on, keep lookout down the road for lights headed your way. Always wear a seat belt. These days young people were programmed from birth to buckle up. In my youth seat belts were rarely used.
People in cross walks have the right of way, even if the “Don’t Walk” sign is flashing. I’m often tempted to go anyway, but it’s illegal.  
Don’t hurry. When you have to be somewhere allow for more than enough time to get there. In Atlanta you should allow for bad traffic, especially if you’re headed downtown or cross town. Better to arrive early, especially if you’re headed to place you’ve never been, or if you’re not sure where to park.
Parking. Don’t drive around and around looking for the perfect spot. Better to pull in the first best available space you see and walk. You need the exercise and you’ll be in the store while the perfectionists are still looking. Never wedge your way into a space that’s too small, unless you want your doors dented by those next to you (be careful not to do this to others). Best to park at the end of a row next to a curb, so there’s only one car next to you instead of two. That way you can pull over closer to the curb side to allow extra room between you and the space next to you.
Park with your exit plan in mind. Pull through so you don’t have to back out of your space. Park where you can quickly merge into the fastest exit. Don’t be the person driving the wrong way down the row. You won’t be able to maneuver your vehicle into a space turned the other way. Parking is a breeze in a small car. You might not be as cool or manly as the dude leasing the $60,000.00 F-150 extended bed crew cab, but at least you can get around tight spaces. Plus you get thrice the MPG.
Don’t sit in your car with the engine running. Turn off the motor if you’re sitting for longer than one minute. Global warming may be a hoax, but there could be limited amounts of fossil fuels. You’re wasting gas and polluting the air for the people around you: those who got out and walked, and those who were thoughtful enough to turn off their car and roll down the windows. If it’s still too hot, then get out of your car and go inside. Sure this is problematic for the elderly and handicapped, but if possible plan so you’re not stuck running the car. Park in the shade and enjoy the great out of doors.
Drive-thru’s: avoid if possible, especially if the line is long. If no one’s in line you may be able to zip through. When there is a long line, oftentimes it’s quicker to park and go inside. Chick-fil-a may have a quick drive thru, but they’re the exception. Made-to-order places like Zaxby’s and Steak & Shake have extremely long drive-thru’s that should be avoided. Who are these people who can afford gas-guzzlers and burn gas waiting in line for minutes on end? Just about any place with a drive thru is unhealthy anyway.    
Keep your car clean, inside and out. Throw trash away. Take cups and glasses inside. Use travel mugs to avoid spills. Stuff can roll behind the gas or brake pedal. Don’t carry around unneeded extra weight in your trunk. Wash and vacuum the car yourself. You need the exercise, you save money, your do a better job, and afterwards you have a great deal of satisfaction. Don’t forget to clean the tires.    
Along the way I’ve snuck in several gas-saving tips. Did you catch them? Coast down hills. If you have to slow down while you’re headed up a hill, instead of braking just take your foot off the gas and let the hill slow you down. Don’t lead-foot. No jackrabbit starts. Avoiding drive-thrus and idling. Keep your car serviced and tires properly inflated. Actually over-inflate tires for better MPG, but on snow and ice slightly under-inflate for better traction. Make it a game to get the highest MPG possible.
I’m no car repair expert. Find a reliable shop to take your vehicles, instead of going somewhere different every time. Oil change places will have you believe the oil must be changed every 3000 miles. Hogwash. With today’s higher grade oil you can go 5000-10000 miles between changes. Synthetic oils last 10000 miles for sure. But do change your oil.
Don’t load your car down with stickers. Those companies and sports teams aren’t paying you to advertise their product. You’re just making your car the target of some rabid rival fan. Having IN GOD WE TRUST on your license plate is another target – and a poor witness if your drive bad. People like to cut in front of Christians, thinking they’ll turn the other cheek. And don’t get me started about 30A stickers. Ramming speed, Sulu!
Little tips like these separate the good drivers from the bad. The safe drivers from the scary. Is there anything I left out?    

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