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Friday, September 9, 2016

Driving for Life

~An Open Letter to the "Other" Driver~

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.”   ― D. Barry

Dear Fellow Traveler,

Last week, when I was stepping into the shower, I noticed a big, ugly black spider in the bathtub.  I shrieked and jumped because it was unexpected.  I have a similar reaction when I am traveling and suddenly see a car coming at me, after crossing the line(s) from the opposite lane.

My job requires driving, and obviously, this means our lives on the line every time we get into our cars.  It is a serious matter! While I travel the highways and Bi-ways of our beautiful green state, (and beyond), I want to take this opportunity, dear friend, to remind you that you have your own side of the road. 

This means that while you drive, you should stay within the confines of your designated lines.  Keep out of my lane, because, yes, I have ownership of my lane in that moment, just as you do, respectfully.   I can't tell you how many times I encounter another car with its wheels left of center, and my heart momentarily stops, akin to seeing that ugly black spider.

When I am driving and suddenly I realize that you have crept so close to the hind end of my car, that I can see the color of your eyes from my rear-view mirror,  I feel the urge to remind you of the 3 second rule, while traveling? click the > play button for a 1 minute video.

Speaking of "seconds", don't text and drive.  Just don't do it.  It's called distracted driving for a reason.  It takes just a matter of a few seconds to take your eyes of the road, to look at your phone and have an accident...or worse.  

Texting while driving - Image credit - ueccenterprise.com
Texting While Driving makes you 23X more likely to crash, slows your brake reaction speed by 18% and leads to a 400% increase with eyes off the road.  The National Safety Council reports that using your cell phone while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. Nearly 330,000 injuries occur each year from accidents caused by texting while driving. 1 out of every 4 car accidents in the United States is caused by texting and driving.  And sadly, ALL of these statistics are 100% preventable. 

Eating while driving - Image credit - hybridcars.com

Shaving while driving - Image credit - emaze.com

Newspaper while driving - Image credit - autosvoice.com

What are the 3 types of distraction?

1. Visual: taking your eyes off the road;

2. Manual: taking your hands off the wheel; and,

3. Cognitive: taking your mind off of driving

Distracted driving activities include talking on a cell phone, texting, reading the newspaper or a map, putting on make up, shaving, and eating. Using technology such as a GPS can also be a source of distraction. ANY of these distractions can endanger yourself or others.  Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction.  For your information, here is a link to Vermont DMV's texting and driving laws:

Blinker - Image credit - miaminewtimes.com
Blinker, please

The little handle which is located on the left side of your steering wheel, has a purpose.  That purpose is to inform other drivers of your intent to make a turn.  Just yesterday, I witnessed 3 separate incidents in which another driver failed to use their blinker, and all of which involved them making a left turn in front of another vehicle who occupied the lane in front of them.

Ye Olde Hissy Fit

If I am ahead of you and I am doing the "right thing", (traveling at the speed limit) you need to remember that it is not my fault if YOU are late.   From my rear-view mirror, I can see you pounding your steering wheel or throwing your hands in the air (which should be on the steering wheel).  Cut it out.  Stop it.  Chill out.  Breathe.   All I can say is that you should have planned better.  Vermont's DMV also addresses road rage and aggressive driving here:  http://dmv.vermont.gov/safety/RoadRage


Think about the moment you are getting in your car.... and BE in the moment.

*What time of day is it?

*Is it morning, when are people rushing to get to work?

*Is it lunch time, and we are hungry trying to get to their food destination?

*Is it the end of the day, and we are thinking about getting home or the errands we need to run? Or having to pick up little Suzi or Bobby from day care?

*What is your mood, and will it affect your driving?  Are you tired?  Hungry?  Sad?  Elated?

*Is it raining?

*Is it snowing?

*Will there be leaves or other debris in the road?

Plan ahead and drive accordingly and drive defensively.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you

~The "Be Nice" RANT~  

Soon, our state will be in the height of foliage, and the "leaf-peepers" will be enjoying the natural wonder of our mountains and countryside.   I want to remind the public that Tourism is one of Vermont's biggest industries.  It is heart-breaking to hear native Vermonters complain about the buses and cars who are taking in the sights, and they should be ashamed of themselves!  

Image credit - pinterest
Remember, that we depend on the fellow explorers and visitors to purchase our products (maple syrup, apples, cheese, and chocolate - to name a few) and to support our small towns, and big cities by their very presence.   

Today, it seems that we are all in a hurry.  We all need to get somewhere, and get there fast.  I hope that if you have read this, that you will be reminded that common sense and courtesies do matter.  Be nice.