Don’t drive based on how things are NOW – drive based on how things COULD BE in the future. (The further ahead, the better.)
Notice the car on the side street ahead, angled as if preparing to merge with traffic in your lane. They may not adequately judge how large an opening they have (or need) or might just get impatient. If they pull in front of you, will you have the time and distance needed to slow down? If not, can you take advantage of an opening in the lane next to you, even if it means speeding up? What do you need to do to handle anything that might crop up in the next 3 seconds? The next 10 seconds? The next 30 seconds?
ALWAYS maintain a “Bird’s Eye” awareness of your surroundings. Five seconds ago, you saw a blue sports coupe in your passenger-side mirror – now you can’t see it at all. Where is it? Did they turn off? Are they in your blind spot? If you remember where it has been and where you know it isn’t, it’s pretty easy to deduce where that car is. You can’t watch everything constantly, and some areas you can’t see well (if at all) anyways – use that grey lump between your ears to maintain a picture and make corrections on the fly. With practice and experience, you’ll learn to see potential accidents before they even happen.
Headlights are to LET OTHER DRIVERS SEE YOU more than to help you see. A good rule of thumb is that if you need your wipers (even intermittently) you need your lights on. I can’t begin to tell you how many times the only thing to save an idiot driving a gray/silver car was a high-contrast front license plate. If it’s near dusk or dawn, in a dusty desert, or even on a winding mountain road, you need your headlights on so others can see you. When in doubt, turn ’em on!
There’s no shame in parking. A lot of drivers tend to get macho and will try everything from caffeine pills to slapping themselves in the face to try to make “just a few more miles” – the morgues are full of them. Stop at a 7-11 and get a Slurpee. Hit up a rest area for a pee break. Something as simple as a two-minute break from driving and a quick spot of activity can do wonders for your alertness. If that’s not enough, find an out-of-the-way spot for a short nap.
Any time you think you’d be embarrassed for taking a rest break, think how embarrassed you’d be for having an accident because you didn’t!!
Want to become a better expert driver?
Enroll at Access2Drive Driving School, Jamaica, New York.