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The Car Coach: New Year's resolutions for drivers
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If you haven't made your New Year’s resolutions yet, consider adding a few from behind the wheel. A change or two to your driving style can make all the difference on the highway - and could even save your life.
1. Buckle yourself and your children properly. No single thing can prevent more highway accidents, injuries and deaths than belting in, especially for children and small adults.
2. Concentrate on driving. If you must use a car phone, use a hands-free device. If you must eat on the road, pull over for 15 minutes so you're not balancing a 64-ounce drink in your lap while doing 70 mph on the highway.
3. Stay in control. Aggressive driving doesn’t only occur during commutes. If someone irritates you or makes threatening maneuvers, don't challenge them. Instead, slow down and blend into more sane traffic.
4. Become a mirror-checker. Not for your makeup or hair, but for the flow of traffic. You’ll see many potential incidents before they happen if you scan your rear view and side mirrors every half a minute or so.
5. Pass left, drive right. The left-most lanes are meant for passing. If you're not passing or not completing a pass in less than a minute, move over and let others by.
6. Park with a conscience. Other people's cars deserve the same care you'd give your own. If a space is too tight to open your doors comfortably, find another spot.
7. Learn how to stop in a hurry. While anti-lock brakes are standard or available on most cars today, many drivers still aren't familiar with how they work. If you've never experienced your anti-lock brakes in action, find a parking lot to test them out. It’s easy to hit the brakes hard and feel the pulsation on the brake pedal. Don’t lift your foot; keep it on the pedal firmly. That pulsation is your anti-lock brakes working.
8. Create some breathing room. The proper following distance of three car lengths is almost nonexistent in today's traffic-clogged commutes. Still, there's no reason to travel tightly packed. Open some space between your bumper and the car ahead and you'll cut the risk of being a statistic.
9. Pay attention to flashing lights. Whether it's an emergency vehicle, police car, school bus or a fellow driver flashing to pass and pull right, pay attention to vehicles that require extra attention.
10. Change lanes safely. Missed your exit? Need to make the next right-hand turn - but you're in the left lane? Don't move across three lanes of traffic or cut off other drivers - wait until the next opportunity, go back, and try it again. It may save your life or the lives of others.
Resolve to be a better driver in 2012.