first to use your lights. As
twilight approaches or the slightest
precipitation begins to fall, be among
the first to turn on your headlights
(not parking lights, not fog lights,
headlights.) This is not to help
you see, but rather to help you be seen.
your mirrors. Sounds simple
enough, right: Bust most drivers
don't optimize the advantage of properly
positioned mirrors. Your rear and
side-view mirrors should form one
panoramic picture of the road behind,
like three photographs laid side by
side. If you can see the side of
your car in the outside mirrors, you're
not getting the full benefit. With
properly adjusted mirrors, you should
never have to look more than 50 degrees
from straight ahead when checking to
change lanes, a must in heavy traffic.
Sit closer to the
steering wheel. Sit close
enough so that, with shoulders pressed
firmly against the seatback, you can
place your wrists at 12 o'clock on the
steering wheel. This allows full
control of the wheel in emergency
situations; there are no make-up tests
in car control. Hands should be
placed at 3 and 9 o'clock on the wheel
at all times.
Every few seconds, scan down the road to
the limits of your vision. One
study noted that the vast majority of
accidents could be avoided if drivers
reacted one second earlier. Look
far ahead and that second, and more,
will be yours.
In heavy traffic, emulate stock-car
drivers and look through the windshield
of the car in front of you to keep track
of the situation ahead.
Know your size.
Learn how small a hole your
car can fit through. For example
if you instinctively know your car's
width, you'll be able to tell if you can
squeeze by on the shoulder to avoid an
Let the computer
work. Every driver should
learn maximum braking skills before a
crisis. Go out in an empty parking
lot and practice. Emergency
braking is easy with anti-lock braking
systems; just nail the pedal and the let
the computer do the work while you try
to steer around an obstacle.
Even if you need a reference manual to
know which way to turn in a skid, by
paying attention and looking far ahead,
you can avoid a wreck that a daydreaming
Indy car wouldn't. Watch other
driver's eyes at intersections to
predict their intentions, or whether
they guy sitting a the side street is
more intent on closing a deal on his
cellular than what' coming down the
Never give up.
If you get into a bad situation, never
quiet driving. Like a test pilot,
if A doesn't work, try B, C and D.
If braking doesn't improve a situation,
try steering around or accelerating.
Since most accidents occur well below
the car's limit, they can be avoided if
the driver simply steps on the brakes or
turns the wheel more ( or, most likely,
responsibility. Before you
buckle the seat belt, embrace the
attitude that you'll never be a "victim"
of an auto accident. Accept that
it's your job to avoid the unavoidable,
to determine if the other guy is going
to run the red light or turn left from
the right lane. Know that if
through inaccurate, inappropriate, or
incompetent application of these tips
you wind up smiting the concrete a
mighty blow, it's your fault, despite
all those lawyers' ads on daytime TV.