Smart Driving Habits #1

Gas/brake riding is one of the most common bad driving habits I see on the road. For some reason many people are in a huge hurry to drop the pedal top the metal, even though, 100 yards away the light is turning red and they will have to pound down on the brakes and screech to a stop. People drive all over town like this all day long and it is murder on your car, transmission , brakes and engine, all the way around. So why do so many people do this? It’s a zero gain, sum lost situation. You ruin your car, put yourself & others at risk of accident and injury and you stress yourself out at the same time, which can lead to a great many health problems over time – not the least of which is fainting, heart attack, aneurysm or stroke.

One day this week, or for one trip or one block at least, try taking your time. Don’t floor it from a stopped position or screech/spin your tires pointlessly. Ease into it – remember the classic bumper sticker and t-shirt iron on that said “Easy Does It”?  Truer words have never been spoken my friends – listen to the sticker. And when you notice a need to stop coming up, take your foot off the gas and coast until you need to start braking closer to the intersection gently. You might be amazed at the calming effect this little change in you driving habits can have on your entire mindset and, as a result, on your quality of life as well. Sound silly?  Does being angry & rushing all the time sound sensible?  Take your time and do it right – on the roads and in life.

When you plan your time better and you don’t have to rush around you have the luxury of patience, time and opportunity to be kinder to yourself and others.  Let people ahead of you when you notice them trying to merge. Is the half a second really going to affect your day negatively if you don’t? Wave at police and construction workers on the roads – spread positive energy out into the world and guess what will come back to you?  Do the opposite and live a life mired in anger, road rage and more accidents than an average calmer human should be having.

Get things done early – plan for extra time commuting always in case of accidents or road closures – get everywhere early and bring work or reading with you that you can do if you have to wait for other people to get there. When things need to get done, get them done early, whether it’s updating or upgrading your car insurance, checking your tires, changing your oil, buying your wife an anniversary present or a Christmas present for your child. Why do later what you can do now, right? It’s the same amount of effort either way – and clearly more stress when things are left to the last minute.  Choose a path of zen rather than a path of insanity – be smart when you drive.

Mike Machina has written for 944 Magazine/944.com, Comcast, The Onion and Westword and has been a car enthusiast since he was first able to get behind the wheel of a truck on his friend’s farm in elementary school. He specializes in blogging about classic cars, everyday driving tips, maintenance, insurance and car humor.

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