||November 21, 2005 09:16
||November 22, 2005 09:58
As the end of the year approaches, days seem to flash by in fast-forward. Once again, we find ourselves rapidly closing upon the 2004 holiday travel season, so we thought we'd share some tips and road etiquette reminders. AAA expects over 30 million travelers (defined as those venturing greater than 50 miles from home) to clog the roads during the 2004 Thanksgiving weekend alone, so if you happen to be one of the many Americans hitting the highways between now and the end of the year, you have a better than average chance of experiencing an elevation in stress level. Hopefully the tips below will help keep the stress to a manageable level.
A lot of these are pretty obvious, but hopefully some of them will keep you from overlooking the obvious.
- Top off the fuel tank the night before your planned departure. This will be one less thing to worry about when you're rushing to get out of town.
- Check all vital fluid levels. Change oil if necessary.
- Check air pressure and condition of tires. Don't forget to check the air pressure in the spare tire! Also check your vehicle's alignment if it's been a while. Improper alignment can chew through a set of tires very quickly on a long road trip.
- Don't forget to top off your wiper fluid and check the condition of your wiper blades. It's probably a good idea to go ahead and clean the windows the night before you leave as well.
- At the minimum, pack the following items:
- air pressure gauge
- small flashlight
- small toolkit (you can do an amazing amount of stuff on a Honda if you have 10mm, 12mm and 14mm sockets and a socket wrench)
- gloves (in case you need to change a tire)
- small shop towel
- Fix A Flat or similar tire sealant. If you use this stuff, be sure to properly repair or replace the damaged tire as soon as possible.
- 12v air compressor (this one is for extra credit)
- I've been guilty of not obeying this one from time to time, but try to think about what you're really going to be needing at your destination. Try to leave behind those extra items so you don't overload your vehicle and compromise safety.
- With fuel prices at more than $2.00 per gallon, using your cruise control and setting it at a reasonable speed can help reduce your fuel usage.
Road Rules/General Etiquette:
Most of these items are common sense, yet it's amazing how many people seem to come up lacking in the common sense department. And don't be afraid to practice these things the whole year 'round.
- Maintain lane discipline. Stay right except to pass. Don't play games with people who are attempting to overtake.
- Maintain a consistent speed.
- Do not EVER travel side by side with another car at the same speed. Either overtake the car, or slip in behind it.
- If you plan to overtake another car, be sure you are actually traveling at a higher average speed than the person you are overtaking. Do NOT pass somebody, only to slow down once you pull in front of them.
- Avoid using your cellphone. If you must use it, keep to the right at all times and maintain your speed and lane, and make use of your Acura's bluetooth handsfree interface if you have it, or an earpiece otherwise so both of your hands are available for controlling your vehicle.
- Avoid passing on the right.
- Practice patience and courtesy
- Road construction/lane closures:. Don't be that tosser that ignores "Lane Closed Ahead/Merge Right" signs and waits until the very last minute to try to cut in front of everybody else. Make an effort to merge cleanly into the prevailing lane well before your own lane disappears. Everybody else is trying to get somewhere too.
- ALWAYS use your indicators. This goes hand in hand with utilizing your mirrors.
- Maintain a safe distance when following another car.
- Don't dawdle on freeway onramps. Nothing's more disruptive to the flow of traffic than people who use the entire mile and a half of a given onramp to achieve all of 35 mph and then attempt to merge into a 75 mph flow. Get up to speed quickly, pick your gap, and hit it.
- If you're just about to miss your exit and in a bad position to make it, forget it. Don't even try to make it. Take the next exit and turn around. Don't put your own or other people's safety at risk to save yourself a few minutes.
- If you have some sort of in-car entertainment system set up for your passengers, don't be fiddling with it while you're driving. Have somebody else deal with it or just pull over.
- When exiting freeways, pay close attention to signs that say stuff like STOP, YIELD, or KEEP MOVING. The last one seems to cause the most confusion amongst the domestic motoring public.
- Do not drive if you are not properly rested.
- Check the DOT websites for the state(s) in which you will be traveling. These often have detailed information regarding road construction. Pay particular attention to lane closures and plan alternate routes.
Hopefully at least one of these tips will help make your holiday travel less stressful. Please be safe out there and have a wonderful holiday season.