The movie Speed Racer may be popular, but driving like one isn’t. Here are some tips to help you stay safe on the road, from Health magazine.
- Look out! Jim Clark is lead instructor at the BMW Performance Driving School in North Carolina. He says when people drive, they tend to fixate on object that’s too close, like the car bumper right in front of them. 80% of accidents could be avoided if a driver had just one more second to react. Clark suggests looking 12 seconds ahead. Find an object in the distance, like an off-ramp or a restaurant sign, that takes to the count of 12 to reach. If you look ahead this far, you get a feel for the traffic pattern, but your brain is still able to process what’s happening right in front of you, and help you avoid trouble.
- Slow down! If there’s weather, traffic, construction or anything else that can throw off your commute - take your pedal off the metal! Sudden braking is a recipe for an accident. The weight of the car shifts quickly toward the front tires, throwing it off balance. When this happens, the rear end of the car swings around, and sends you into a skid. So chill out.
- Watch your hands. In driver’s ed, you learned to put your hands on the 10 and 2 o’clock on the wheel, but Clark prefers the 9 and 3 o’clock. He says this position gives drivers a better range of motion and enables them to turn the wheel completely without their hands getting tangled up.
- Focus! Let’s face it – driving gets boring. That’s why we’re tempted to talk on the phone, eat, fiddle through CDs so on. What you should be doing instead is checking your side and rearview mirrors, watching traffic ahead, and planning for various “what if” scenarios. For example, what if the bicycle attached to the roof of the car in front of me came flying off? Mentally prepare yourself for the unexpected.
- Leave a way out! Clark says the worst place to be on a multi-lane highway is in one of the middle lanes surrounded by cars. You want to be able to pull onto the left or right shoulder if you need to avoid trouble.