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You are Here:  Traffic School »  Defensive Driving Adventures »  March 16 to 23, 2005

Defensive Driving Adventures

March 23, 2005 - The Florida Turnpike

Driving on an expressway like the Florida Turnpike is different than cruising your neighborhood streets. Of course there are huge benefits to the Turnpike. Primarily speed. Not to suggest that you should speed but you can get where you are going fast when compared with I95 or more local roads. If you are traveling north or south in Florida then use the turnpike if at all possible. Like most expressways the turnpike has few exits/entrances, no stops (except when there is a problem), and higher speed limit in most places.

Another benefit of the turnpike is the easy on and off at the stations. You can gas up your car and yourself in a few minutes without really leaving the highway. Most turnpike stations have a variety of restaurants, good coffee (Starbucks in many locations), and you can pick up some Florida souvenirs, and fresh oranges. With all these benefits there are still rules to follow.

The left lane is primarily for passing. That means you should cruise in the right lane if there are no cars to pass. That said, a sure sign of aggressive driving is riding too closely behind another car in the left lane that you want to pass. Tailgating on the turnpike is very dangerous. If a car slows quickly down the result could be a multi-car pile up. If you are cruising in the right lane pay attention to on ramps. You are required to give drivers entering the highway room to merge. So either slow down, move to the left, or speed up - if it make sense.

Avoid Traffic at The Toll Plaza

If you are going to take advantage of the turnpikes speed it would be a shame to waste time when paying tolls. On a recent trip I was caravanning with my Brother. I had SunPass and he did not. There was a long line at the toll plaza that held him up 15 minutes. I cruised right through with my SunPass.

March 21, 2005 - Yellow Doesn't Mean Step On It!

On location in San Francsic this week we find ourselves wondering if a red light has some special meaning in California. Sure California is on the cutting edge of many things but is there some new trend where a yellow light means gun it and hope for the best?

To be fair to San Francisco, we observed many drivers in Florida running red lights over the last few weeks. Imagine your sitting in the left turn lane at a light and it turns red. Two seconds later a car passes you and goes through the light a high speed.

Running Red Lights is Suicidal

If you run a red light you are taking a big gamble. Are you assuming that there are no cars coming from the right or left? Because if there is just one car or even worse a large truck it could be bad, very bad.

As you fly through a red light you are a sitting duck to be broad sided. If the on coming car is going fast enough, is heavy enough, or both you could find yourself rolling over. This all sounds like common sense kind of like don't stick your finger in a light socket so our only assumption is that there are lots of drivers that have none or they are gambling - in this case with their life. Our recommendation if you feel the need to gamble is head to a casino. Next stop for us - Lake Tahoe. Stay tuned.

March 18, 2005 - + Sirius Trucking

The other day I was flipping through the channels of my satellite radio and stumbled across the Sirius Trucking channel (#138). There was a discussion about professional truckers being trained to watch for terrorist activity on our roads and highways and keep their trucks from being used as a weapon. According to their website , Highway Watch utilizes the skills, experiences, and "road smarts" of America's transportation workers to help protect the nation's critical infrastructure and the transportation of goods, services, and people.

Training is typically done for large groups of truckers at companies but recent groups trained include over 1,600 bus drivers. Training focuses on noticing unusual activity that may be cause for concern and reporting it. Another group that recently joined the training program is the American Towing Alliance. They provide nationwide towing services for the trucking industry.

Smart Use of Traffic Time

Highway Watch sounds like a smart use of resources. We have thousands of professional drivers in tucks, busses, and other vehicles on our highways. Certainly driving is a full time job but on those long hauls having an extra mission can break up the boredom. I'd also recommend a Sirius Satellite radio - that's for another discussion. So the next time you're sitting in traffic next to big rig give them a big thumbs up. And if you're a professional driver interested in getting trained give Highway Watch a call at 1-866-821-3444.

March 16, 2005 - Dangerous County Roads

When you think about dangerous driving in Florida I95 or US1 in Miami may come to mind. Or maybe one of the many other freeways that you drive daily seems like a 10 car pile up waiting to happen. Make no mistake, the highways are dangerous but rural roads are surprisingly even more dangerous.

According to The Road Information Program you are two and half times more likely to die in an auto accident on a rural (read: country) road than on all other roads. Even though rural roads only account for 28 percent of all vehicle miles traveled they account for more than half of the traffic fatalities.

Nothing to be Proud Of

We talk a lot about safe driving but Florida ranks in the top five in the nation for traffic fatalities. So what can we do? First, slow down on country roads. Most rural roads don't have a divider or a decent shoulder. So if something does go wrong you will have less road to work with. This is a key.

The worst accident you can have is a head on collision. With no center divider head on collisions occur more often and are extremely dangerous. For those that live in rural communities you know how dangerous this can be. So when you get a chance to take a drive with no traffic, slow down and be safe. The life you save may be your own.