Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | November 23, 2008
Home : Auto
Driving for yourself and others
Mario James, Gleaner Writer

The Kia Sedona ('Carnival' in some markets) added another accolade to its growing trophy case last week at the Chicago Auto Show when MotorWeek announced its selection as 'Best Minivan' in its 2007 Drivers' Choice Awards. The recognition marks the first time Kia has received a Drivers' Choice Award from the long-running automotive television programme. - Contributed

DRIVING with due care for other road users takes more than following the rules outlined on paper. It is a state of mind that is necessary for survival on today's congested roadways.

Automotives eases you into accident-free mode with a few tips.

Know your car

While in the driver's seat of your car, get someone to walk away from you directly in your line of sight until you can see the soles of his/her shoes. Then go out and measure that distance; in some cases they are 20 invisible feet from the front bumper! Keep that figure in your cranium while you drive around.

Driving position is very important, for both alertness and reaction times. Ensure as much of your thighs are supported by the seat as possible. Don't sit too far away from the pedals, as this may put additional strain on the upper back and neck. Adjust the steering wheel so that you can reach it with slightly bent arms with hands in the 10 to 2 position.

Also, the higher you sit affects the distance you measured in Tip one, so strive for height ... most new car seats are adjustable nowadays in this regard, so cushions are no longer necessary, and can cause lower back pain.

Mentally approach each intersection as if it borders a cliff. Stop! Look! Especially in the wee hours of the morning. Listen, wait, and look again. Every car has blind spots (zones in which oncoming traffic is not visible), and waiting will allow vehicles to become visible.

Stay focused

There are a lot of things to think about when driving: road conditions, your speed, observing traffic laws and signals, following directions, being aware of the cars around you, checking your mirrors - the list goes on. Distractions, like talking on the phone or eating, make a driver less able to see potential problems and react to them. Don't get overconfident!

Driving's Golden Rule

Do not assume that traffic will automatically part like the Red Sea just because you want to merge. Do not assume that the trailer driver has seen you (as a matter of fact, blow when you are alongside). Do look into his mirrors and see if you can see his face before you overtake. Do assume that drivers will run through red lights or stop signs and be prepared to react. Plan your movements anticipating the worst-case scenario.

Have an escape route

In all driving situations, the best way to avoid potential dangers is to position your vehicle where you have the best chance of seeing and being seen.

Maintain good distance

The distance obtained in Tip one should be the buffer zone to the car in front of you in traffic and low- speed situations. If you cannot see where the tyres meet the road of the car in front, you are too close. If distracted, this buffer zone will give you time to react in case the vehicle in front behaves like an immovable object.

Frame of mind

This is your best weapon against the crazies that share the road this time of year. If you are stressed to the point of tears, or you are crushing soda cans on your forehead for no apparent reason, do not get behind the wheel. Keep your speed down. The life you save may be my own!


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