Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Traffic Talk Tuesday

A few years ago I started off the holiday season on December 1st being side-clobbered by a young lady determined to go from her middle lane through my right (slow) lane into the shopping center on the other side of my lane (and car).  Blessedly I wasn’t hurt (my car took the brunt of the damage), but it truly was a very avoidable situation (for her, had she paid attention).  I wasn’t in her blind spot… as a matter of fact, I saw her coming into my lane and tried to speed up to avoid her, fortunately avoiding a slam into my driver side door (the rest of the side of my car didn’t fare as well) as I careened up onto the grass triangle of the entrance. Her explanation?  She was busy thinking of upcoming exams (she was a local college student).  

As we think of health and wellness most of the time our minds go to the gym, to exercise and diets, etc.  However, you can be fit as a fiddle and a car accident can wipe you out… or worse.

Here are some basic, time-tested tips on being a mindful motorist as you travel this season:

1) Obviously, don’t drink and drive – not even one – get a designated driver!!!

2) Sleep deprivation can be as damaging as drinking – get enough sleep and drive alert!

3) Always wear your seat belt and make sure all your passengers wear them as well.

4) GET OFF THE PHONE!!!  I was a multi-tasking traffic-time talkaholic for many years, but now I realize it’s just not worth my life.  NEVER TEXT WHILE DRIVING!!!  If you have to make a call, pull over.  

5) Keep an eye on your gas tank.  Did you know that the second half of your gas tank burns quicker than the first half and you will save money if you never let it drop below a half tank?  Not to mention that this habit will prevent you from running out of gas at the most inappropriate Murphy’s Law times!

6) Give yourself time.  Now I admit I am the queen of the early morning “jump in the car running ten minutes late teacup in hand toss on mascara in the slow lane… omigosh I gotta get there hurry up car in front what’s wrong with you let’s MOOOVEEEE!!!” syndrome.  My mother calls me “Mario” and it has nothing to do with computer games.  But… I am learning to change, for my own health and the health of all those around me.  I now (desperately) do my best to leave on time, or better yet, ten minutes early (okay, this is still a pipe dream, but I’m working on it, seconds at a time – Mom if you are reading this, stop laughing).  I am seeking to build margin into the commute schedule so that I am not tempted to speed.  Remember to build “lane margin” in between you and the car in front of you.  Drive the speed limit… an accident will really put a damper on your arrival time!!!

7) Take extra caution to be aware of the drivers around you and keep your eye on the cars way up front and on your sides – I have avoided many accidents by seeing someone swerving and getting out of their way just in the nick of time.  Remember, everyone is juggling schedules this time of year and running around, as my Grandma used to say, “like chickens with their heads cut off.”  

8) Keep an emergency kit in your car, especially if you live in cold-weather areas.  You never know when you might get stranded.  Allstate has a post on their blog for putting together your own emergency kit – here’s the link:  http://blog.allstate.com/super-vehicle-emergency-car-kit/.  And here’s another site from Edmunds.com: http://www.edmunds.com/how-to/how-to-create-your-own-roadside-emergency-kit.html.  

9) Keep your cell phone with you at all times, and invest in a car charger and/or a solar charger or some type of alternative energy source so you always have the ability to make a call.

10) Check the weather – be aware of the possibilities of storms.  Now I grant you, these crazy weather people seem to take giddy delight in warning us of the foreboding “Rain Event”, “Wind Event”… i.e., there are minor showers coming down and possibility a breeze here and there.  I admit, nowadays it seems the weather wackies love to cry wolf whenever a stray leaf floats down, but the truth is you should be aware of what’s going on and how it will affect road and traffic conditions.

Again, these are some basics – and they don’t even begin to cover safety in parking lots, on dark roads, etc.  But it’s a start and something to put into practice today.  You can be in more control of your safety on the roads… unless you happen to “bump into” a college student desperate to make a right hand turn into the mall parking lot from her middle lane during exams because there's a sale on lipstick at the local Wal-Mart.  Then… well, you’re on your own!

Blessings,

Coach Linda

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