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Monday, December 01, 2008

Peace on Earth, (That’s my parking space; get the hell out of my way!!) Goodwill to Men

One of the many things I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving is that, after changing jobs last year, I won’t have to drive by the local mall during my daily commute this Christmas season. If traffic wasn’t bad enough during my commute, the Christmas shopping season turned it into an absolute nightmare. If I had one Christmas wish each year, I would wish that drivers would gain a little common sense and understand what the real meaning of the season is all about. Since that probably isn’t going to happen, I thought a few reminders might be in order to get us safely through the holiday season.

Planning - One benefit of the recent spike in gasoline prices is that it taught us that we need to consolidate trips to save gas. Trying to consolidate all your holiday shopping into one or two trips can help save your sanity and some money.
• Before going out, create a shopping list for all the folks on your gift giving list.
• Use the internet, newspaper ads and mail flyers to find who has the best bargains.
• If you can, devote a single day or two to get all your shopping done.
• Shop early. With the economy so bad this year, retailers aren’t waiting until the end of the season to start their sales.
• Map out your trip and go in a clockwise direction to all your stops. Doing that will ensure you are making more right hand turns rather than waiting for left turn lights.

Dealing with Other Drivers – The frantic pace of the holiday shopping season can bring out the worst in drivers. This is where you really have to keep your cool. When another driver cuts us off, steals "our" parking space or blocks an intersection, we just feel like we have to do something about it. That usually means honking horns, flashing lights, creative sign language, or, worst of all, verbal exchanges. Doing something like that can lead, and has led, to pushing another driver over the edge into a road rage situation. Road rage isn’t aggressive driving. Road rage comes about when one driver, who feels he or she has been pushed just too hard, uses his or her car or some other type of weapon to physically attack an offending driver. You don’t want to be the person who pushes that person over the edge. When you feel like another driver has been rude or dangerous, remember the F.I.D.O. principle. Forget It and Drive On. There is nothing you can do to change that other driver’s behavior. Just let it go and keep out of their way.

Intersections – Trying to get through busy intersections is probably the biggest headache holiday drivers face. My biggest pet peeve is those drivers who, when traffic ahead is backed up to the intersection, pull into the intersection instead of waiting at the stop line until traffic ahead clears. The usual result of that is, when my light turns green, I am stuck because of the other driver blocking the intersection. When that happens, I sometimes fantasize that, if I were prone to road rage and had a gun …… Well, you get the picture. Believe it or not, traffic would flow much more smoothly if everyone would obey the traffic signs and drive at the speed limit. At intersections, remember the following rules:
• When traffic is backed up to the intersection, resist that temptation to pull up. Wait at the stop line. It only costs you a just a couple of minutes to wait for the next light. Doing that will keep you safe and keep you from getting a ticket for blocking the intersection.
• Trying to make it through a yellow light at the last second often results in actually running a red light. Yellow lights mean prepare to stop. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to wait through a green light for other drivers who are running the red light. Their excuse to the police will be that the light was yellow and they didn’t have time to stop but the police aren’t going to buy it. You can get a ticket for running a yellow light if the officer felt you had time to stop.
• Don’t assume that the car ahead will continue moving and try to stay on his tail to get through the light. Assume that he may stop for no apparent reason and keep your distance.
• Remember that you can’t take the right-of-way. You can only give it up to someone else. If there is a conflict over who has the right-of-way, give it to the other driver.

Pedestrians – There is probably no time of year where we encounter more pedestrians. Remember that pedestrians in a crosswalk, whether marked or not, always have the right-of-way. Pedestrians can’t move as fast as a car can especially when they are burdened down with packages, so don’t expect them to jump out of your way. Remember also that pedestrians may not hear you coming. Their minds are occupied just like yours. Their ears may be wrapped in a muffler or a hat or the pedestrian could be totally deaf.

Stay Off Your Cell Phone – Driving, especially at this time of year, requires your full attention. If you must make a call, pull off the road.

Following these simple rules will allow you to keep your hard earned money to buy Christmas presents instead of paying for traffic fines, court costs, or auto body repairs.

To learn more about driver safety and education please visit our Driver Safety Alerts at

Here’s wishing you a safe and happy holiday period.

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