Driving pro-tips

We have the “Things you wish the other driver could hear” thread about dumb and aggravating things other drivers do. After having to stop suddenly twice now in the same stretch of highway where I had to move quickly onto the shoulder to give myself room to stop, I decided we could use pro tips and unconventional tips to help all of us be better drivers.

I’ll start us off with this one: Learn your route. If you drive the same route frequently, such as going to and from work, learn the quirks of the route to you can avoid them.

For example, there’s an interstate highway that runs down to where I live. At one point, it makes a curve west. In the late afternoon, you’re staring at the setting sun once you make the turn. This particular curve also has an exit right afterward that is always busy, which backs up the traffic in that lane. Which causes the next lane over to slow down. Which causes the next lane over to slow also. Repeat for the two outer lanes. Five lanes of traffic, all affected by one exit. Right after the exit, traffic speeds back up a bit.

The pro-tip for this part of the route is move to the outer lane early so you don’t have to slow down as much.

Pro-tip corollary: If you don’t have to take that exit, stay out of that lane. Don’t contribute to the how slow traffic in that lane moves.

Don’t watch the car in front. Watch the vehicle in front of that one to get an idea of what the traffic is going to do.

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In heavy traffic, leave enough space between your car and the one in front of you. And look continually for exit routes should the car in front of you come to a sudden stop.

Also try to drive on the inner- or outermost lanes in heavy traffic, you’ll then have the shoulder as emergency exit route. Plus, if something happes (your engine dies, or a tyre deflates) then you can simply mosey on over without havening to struggle through traffic queues and thickheaded drivers.

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This isn’t a pro tip, but one that I’m surprised a lot of people don’t seem to know. Keep the 2 second rule. Your eyes should not be on any one spot for more than two seconds. Watch the front. Watch the mirrors. Watch your dash. Be paranoid.

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On regular rural interstates (single- and double-digit numbers), cruise in the right lane, pass on the left.

On spurs and bypasses (interstates with triple-digit numbers), use all lanes strategically. Stay in the middle and left lanes when you’re part of through traffic, move to the right as your exit approaches and merge left once you’re safely up to speed when entering the roadway.

Or maybe I’m all wrong.

Also, based on something that happened to me last week: if your vehicle can’t go more than 50 MPH, keep it the hell off the interstate. You are a danger to yourself and everyone else within a quarter mile (in either direction)

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Another thing. On long downhills always let the heavy, articulated truck go ahead and keep it in front of you.

Don’t try to cut in front of any heavy vehicles, especially at stop streets or traffic lights.

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Addition to don’t just watch the car in front: if you can, look through their back and front windows to watch for the brake lights of the car in front of it. See how far apart those two vehicles are. Look around or over the first car on curves and hills to see what that second car is doing and as far ahead as you can.

On that stretch of highway where I had to suddenly stop twice, it goes down a hill in a straight line, but often, you can’t see more than just the car ahead. The slope impedes the “look through the front and back windows” technique.

To help with being able to look farther ahead, try to follow behind a vehicle smaller than yours to increase visibility over and around it. If that means you have to change lanes, you change lanes.

Here’s a lesson in mass most people don’t think about. The more of it there is, the harder it is to stop and the longer it takes. Find a long hallway. Get a good and fast running start. Wait until you’re five feet from the wall before you try to stop.

Did you do it or did you body-slam yourself into the wall?

Now imagine your car is going downhill and the articulated truck is behind you. If you stop suddenly, the truck will body-slam your car. You and your car are not going to have a few boo-boos.

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Somebody havening a road rage? At you? Brake checks etc?

Don’t engage, don’t acknowledge said person, break off contact and try to get away ASAP. If said person follows you, drive to the nearest cop shop.

Remember, karma is a bitch. Don’t try to talk to people who blow through red lights or stop streets, sooner or later they will get their just desserts, hopefully with a six-pack whoopass.

FWIW they are only reinforcing their bad habits and it is only to their own detriment. Not yours, unless you happen to be in the intersection with green on your side and they blow a red light.

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contrary to popular belief and the fact you have driven this route before means its ok.
I-95 south out of DC road does not end at the top of each hill. You are not going to drop off into oblivion at the top of the hill.
If you are a flat earth believer, I guess there might be the possibility but you just drove this route yesterday on the way home, so unless something happened it will be ok. Please keep driving

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There was also apparently a burning truckload of pineapples on 95 north of DC today.

Treat every other road user, of all sizes, as if their sole purpose in life is to kill you by any means imaginable and then drive/ride accordingly.

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In hilly/mountainous areas especially those covered with dense forestation, while driving at night, be aware of the skyline, particularly trees and electrical/telephone poles. Since you can’t see oncoming traffic from the other side due to the intervening land mass, keeping aware of the upper reaches often will give you an indication of approaching traffic due to their lights before you are blinded by one or the other of you topping the rise.

In low visibility conditions where you are having trouble keeping to your lane, pick a mark on your hood/bonnet in front of you that matches the line of the shoulder that keeps you within it. Spot checking it within @Nabiki’s 2 second rotation can help you maintain your position safely and avoid crossing out of your lane in either direction. This is also a good method of getting newer drivers comfortable accounting for adverse conditions.

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Interestingly in the UK the “two second rule” is about keeping yourself two seconds behind the vehicle in front. There’s even a handy phrase to say when it passes a convenient marker (bush, line in the road, whatever):

Only a fool breaks the two second rule

Takes about two seconds to say.

To be honest, that’s the two second rule that I am more familiar with, too.

I learned that as the three second rule. Keep 3 seconds behind the vehicle in front. That’s a good one too, though.

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I keep reading the thread as Diving Pro-tips and getting excited. Then dissapointed.

Don’t read forums while driving. That’s a tip!

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There’s a bunch of tips related to space between vehicles. At 60 mph, you’re moving at 88 feet per second. Do you know the stopping distance of your car? Have you tested it? How good are your brakes right now? Your tires? The road conditions? If you don’t know, leave extra space in front of you.

More than that, don’t just think about if you have enough distance to stop. Think about the person behind you. You’re not the mechanic for their car. You don’t know what condition the tires and brakes are in or whether they have emergency braking. Don’t count on them being able to stop in time even if you can. Any extra distance between you and the car in front is extra distance you’re giving yourself and the car behind you to be able to slow down instead of panic stopping.

This will have a side effect of the people that are in slower lanes next to you seeing the empty space and jerking the wheel to move into the gap in one second.

Let 'em. You can gripe at the jerk at the wheel who jerked the wheel to do an insta-lane change, but it’s not a competition between you and them. If you think you’re “falling behind” because you’re not right up against the car in front of you and someone moves into the space you left, choose a car, truck or delivery van in a lane next to you that’s easily identifiable. Over the next 10-30 minutes, see how many times you pass them and then they pass you, all due to the flow to the traffic. If it’s more than twice, then the idea of “falling behind” or “getting ahead” in the traffic is moot. Create the gap again between yourself and the car in front to protect yourself and the one behind you.

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Speaking of lane changes, do them one at a time. Signal, move into the first lane, and then turn off your signal. Wait and verify the next lane is clear before moving into it.

When you’re making a lane change across two or more lanes, leaving your turn signal on can mean any of the following: you want to continue into the second lane, you’re forgotten that your turn signal is still on, or the music in your car is so loud that you can’t hear the click or chime that reminds you the signal is on. If you turn off your signal for a couple of seconds before starting on the second lane change, it makes it very clear that that’s what you want to do.

This also helps with you can’t just check to see if the lane you want to move into is clear. You have to look one more lane beyond that so you can avoid trying to do a lane change into the same lane that another car wants to move into at the same time.

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A nifty feature of my truck, and the Fusion I had before the truck, was that if you tap the turn signal, it will flash a few times. Just hit the detent you can feel before it snaps to fully depressed & let go - 3 flashes normally, and I think 5 flashes if a trailer is connected. Love it.