Posts Tagged ‘driving’

Heather and I went to see a concert last week featuring Linkin Park, 30 Seconds to Mars, and AFI.  We arrived early, found a great parking space, and made our way into the venue.  From 6:30 to 11:00, thousands of people cheered and clapped and sang together, and we were all bound together by the music.  When the final song ended, everyone made their way to the parking lot, still laughing and smiling and everything seemed wonderful.

Unfortunately, that’s where everything fell apart.

It seems that when we’re all elbow to elbow in a crowded venue people act much differently than when they’re isolated in their own 2 ton automobiles.  Sure, nobody likes traffic.  I get that.  It sucks that you spend 4 hours listening to great music at an awesome event only to have to spend another hour or two in the parking lot trying to go back home to your regular life.  But we don’t have to resort to blowing our horns and threatening each other do we?

I tried to be nice and let other polite drivers in front of me when I could, knowing it was just going to be a long night either way.  Unfortunately, some drivers were extremely aggressive and there was more than one moment where I started thinking defensively, looking for anything in my car that I could use to defend myself.  It got me thinking about safety behind the wheel and what you should do when you’re confronted by an aggressive driver.

I did a quick Google search and here’s some information I found that I think everyone should be aware of regarding aggressive drivers:

  • Don’t respond to the aggressive driver and avoid eye contact.
  • Don’t challenge the driver by speeding up or slowing down in traffic.
  • Allow aggressive drivers to pass you by changing lanes or pulling over if possible.  Avoiding aggressive drivers is often the safest option.
  • Call the authorities to report aggressive driving.  There may be nothing they can do but if the driver is in an accident down the road at least they’ll have a record of someone driving recklessly.
  • Always wear your seat belt.  Every safety feature in your vehicle is designed around the idea that you’re wearing your seatbelt.
  • Most importantly, don’t get out of your vehicle.  You’re inside a big box of metal and glass.  It’s a lot more protection than you have outside.

Most of it is common sense, but in that moment when you’re confronted and the adrenaline starts pumping, it’s easy to act irrationally.  Driving is probably the most dangerous thing the majority of us do every day, so knowing how to safely deal with bad situations is very important.

What are some other suggestions for dealing with aggressive drivers?  Do you have a story about an encounter you had?  Let me know in the comments.

Sources:
AAA
National Road Safety
Weather.com

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As I mentioned yesterday I went bowling with some high school friends.  We were out all evening and I didn’t get a chance to do the survival update.  But I’ve got time today so here you go:

58)  Stop Hydroplaning

Hydroplaning can be just as dangerous as driving over ice.  Your tires lose grip with the road and you lose control of your vehicle.  “The tire essentially floats on a layer of water”.  Here are a few things recommended in the Urban Survival Guide:

Read The Clues – “When hydroplaning, the engine’s RPM sharply rises” because the wheels begin turning faster and faster with no traction.  This is one of the first things I notice when my car starts to hydroplane.  Some vehicles don’t have an RPM gauge so you may only be able to notice the change by the sound your engine makes.

Ease Up – The best thing you can do to prevent and stop hydroplaning is slow down.  Simply take your foot off the accelerator and ride it out.  Don’t slam on the brakes and don’t turn the wheel.  Both of those actions could result is further loss of control.  Slowing down should allow your tires to penetrate the water and help you regain traction.

Another long day today but now the weekend is here.  In honor of the weekend I’ve added the 7.62x54r links to my Ammo Availability page.  By Sunday I should have all the links up and when that happens I will go through and update what’s available in each group.  So hopefully Sunday evening everything will be complete and up to date.

57)  Drive on Black Ice

Black ice is a tricky beast.  Its invisible and extremely dangerous.  Ice completely removes your ability to control your vehicle.  You can turn and brake all you want but you wont have anything to show for it.  According to Rich Johnson in Urban Survival Guide, here are some suggestions for dealing with black ice:

Stay Home:  If the weather is bad and people are reporting black ice on the roads, its probably best to just stay home.  If you can’t however, make sure you are extremely cautious.

Go With The Flow:  Since your vehicle will be unresponsive its best to just ride it out.  Slamming on the brakes will only compound things.  Refer to yesterday’s tip, Get Out of a Skid, for more tips on how to handle a skid.

Buckle Up:    Always wear a seat belt . . . especially when the weather is bad.  If you lose control of your vehicle, you might end up needing it.

Black ice is a serious matter and you should always avoid driving over it when possible.  A few years ago, on the way to school, I watched a truck do a complete 360 behind me when it hit the patch of black ice that I was lucky enough to avoid.  Luckily the driver was unharmed and came to a stop while still on the pavement.  It could’ve been a lot worse and we both should have been going a great deal slower.  I was very lucky.

Today was one of the busiest days I’ve had at this job.  Couple that with last nights awful migraine and you can guess I’m fairly tired this evening.  I’ll be honest the blog wasn’t top priority today but keeping true to my word, here’s the next survival tip from the book Urban Survival Guide by Rich Johnson.

56)  Get Out of a Skid

Everyone who has driven for a while develops a sense of safety while behind the wheel.  We get into bad habits and think that we don’t need to be paying complete attention.  One thing that can wake up even the most comfortable drivers out there is losing control of your vehicle.  “The first sign of a skid may not come until you suddenly lose control and end up heading sideways down the highway.  To regain control, try this:”

  1. Avoid The Brakes:  You may be tempted to slam on the brakes as soon as you feel yourself losing control.  That’s natural because you want to slow the vehicle down.  Unfortunately, if the wheels are sliding across the pavement already, slamming on the brakes will only compound your problems.
  2. Turn The Wheel:  While it may not make sense at first, to recover from a skid you need to turn the wheel gently in the direction of the skid.  For example, if the back of your car starts sliding to the left, turn your wheels to the left.
  3. Use the Gas:  Another counter-intuitive concept when you’ve lost control of your vehicle is to use the accelerator.   You might want to slow the vehicle as quickly as possible, but lightly pushing the gas can help bring things under control.  This works because your wheels begin turning again and can start pulling your vehicle in the direction you want.  Just don’t go crazy because too much acceleration could cause you to skid even more.

I’ve been driving for 13 years now; 7 behind the wheel of a car and 6 before that when I raced go-karts.  In my opinion, the best thing anyone can do is get out there and drive.  Don’t be afraid to drive, but always be cautious.  Know what your vehicle is capable of as well as yourself.  I know that my car can handle snow (unless its really deep) and rain without any trouble but ice is a step too far.  I also know that I can recover fairly quickly if something happens.  However, even though I know I can react quickly, I know where my limits are.  I always try to avoid testing those limits when possible.  I’m always cautious and pay close attention while driving.  After all, like Tyrion Lannister, I believe there are far better ways to die than in a car accident . . .

The moral of my previous paragraph is this:  You can’t get comfortable driving unless you drive.  Practice makes perfect in every aspect of life, from guns to cars.  Recovering from a skid with little to no driving experience is probably highly unlikely.  And the odds of you remembering what you read here word for word and then applying it during a skid is even more unlikely . . .

I’ve decided to combine these two tips into one because they’re so short.  As a result, there will be no survival post tomorrow.  The good news however is that after tonight we’ll be halfway through our list of 111 survival tips/strategies.  Only 56 remain!

54)  Steer With Blown Tires

When a tire suddenly goes flat or blows out, “fight the urge to overcorrect or to slam on the brakes”.  Doing so could cause the vehicle to skid and compound your problems.

Instead of panicking, “hold the steering wheel firmly”.  Slowly back off the accelerator and turn on your signal while you attempt to maneuver toward the shoulder.  When you’re safely off the road, turn on your emergency (also called hazard or 4-way) lights to warn those approaching your vehicle.

55)  Deal With Brake Failure

Brakes are essential to the safe operation of any vehicle.  Suddenly losing them while driving is not an easy thing to prepare for but here are some things to remember.

Don’t turn off the vehicle or remove the keys – While shutting off your vehicle would be a good thing to do if the throttle was stuck, turning off the vehicle will cause the power steering to stop working as well.  Driving with no power steering is a workout to say the least.  Also, removing the keys from the ignition will lock the steering column in most vehicles, making it impossible for you to steer your way to safety.  Never remove the keys while the vehicle is in motion.

Slow down – Keep your foot off the accelerator and try to manage turns and traffic the best you can.  If possible, shift to a lower gear.  Lower gears will help slow your vehicle greatly and even vehicles with automatic transmissions are capable of doing this.  Apply the emergency brake very slowly; applying it quickly can cause you to lock the wheels up and lose control of the vehicle all together.

This post is a combination of my own knowledge and experience as well as information provided in the book Urban Survival Guide by Rich Johnson.

Have you ever been driving along and then thought to yourself, “why is that car still behind me”?  Does it bother you when a car follows you for a long period of time, making all the same turns that you make?  Or do you not care one way or the other?

42)  Lose a Tail

If you see someone following you for a long period of time, it could just be a coincidence.  But it could also be someone following you, seeing where you’re headed.  The book, Urban Survival Guide by Rich Johnson, has a few things you can do to spot potential threats and then how to evade them.

Know The Scene:  “Most drivers tail you from your home or office”.  They know where you live and work, and these are the best locations for them to find you.  Take notice of the cars around you when you’re at home and at work.  If you see any unfamiliar vehicles when you leave, watch to see if they leave at the same time as you.

Drive As If You’re Lost:  If you live in a city, its fairly easy to discover whether or not someone is following you.  Simply circle the block.  “Someone might take one or two [turns] with you, but the chances that someone else is driving in exactly the same square are pretty small”.

Mix It Up:  If you can do so safely, change lanes frequently and adjust your speed now and then.  If someone is following you, they will most likely match these changes.

Make A Beeline:  If you’ve tried the above ideas and there is still someone following you, drive “directly to a public place – ideally, a police station”.  If you can’t shake them, make sure you’re in an area that’s full of witnesses.  If those witnesses happen to be wearing police uniforms, all the better.

Keep Cool:  Stay alert.  You’re initial thought may be to “floor it” but hold off on that.  Drive calmly and make sure you avoid areas where you could be trapped.  Avoid side streets and any with dead ends.  Panicking will only reduce your awareness.

Find A Safe Spot:  You may think its a good idea to go straight home or to the office, but just in case your follower doesn’t already know these locations, its better to not lead them there.  Find a place that is safe where you don’t frequently go.

There are many reasons someone may follow you.  Many couples hire private detectives to follow their significant others to make sure they’re being faithful.  Some employers may even have you followed if they think you’re doing something they don’t approve of (this probably only applies in really high profile jobs).  Other people may follow you in order to harm you, so always be alert when you’re out and about.

Have you ever been followed?  Or, have you ever followed someone else?  How did you handle the situation?  Feel free to share in the comments below!

**  This posted late because I attempted to use the “schedule” option under publish.  It did not post at the specified time and I had to repost it manually once I found out.  If anyone knows why this happened, please let me know. **