It’s that time of year where we turn the clocks back and the days get shorter, colder, and snowier. That also means a big difference in our time on the roads. Winter driving vs summer driving is vastly different. Here are some ways to prepare for these winter months.
Check Your Lights
When you leave work at 5 PM, you will notice an obvious difference in your commute: it’s dark outside! Don’t forget to check your headlights and your taillights so that your fellow commuters can see that you are on the road heading home. Yes, make sure they work but you can also see how the bulbs rate. Not all headlights are created equal and you might want to consider an upgrade so you can see everything out there!
Depending on where you live in the county, snow and the cold can be a very large problem. Make sure you have emergency supplies handy in your car like flashlights, jumper cables, flares, and a phone charger in case you get stuck and need to call for help. Ice scrapers and shovels may be necessary to dig your car out going to and from work. I cannot emphasize the importance enough of a full tank of gas and a blanket should you become stranded to maintain warmth in freezing conditions.
Tires and Brakes
Take a look at your treads to make sure you aren’t driving on bald tires. It is usually recommended to have your tires rotated every six months or 6-8,000 miles. Also see how those brakes feel. It doesn’t hurt to get them checked, especially if you need to get an oil change or that tire rotation anyway.
Don’t Push the Speed Limit
You’re not driving in optimum conditions, so don’t drive at optimum speed. Maintain a safe speed that allows you plenty of reaction and stopping time. Give yourself more of a cushion between yourself and the cars in front of you, as stopping time will greatly increase in worse than normal conditions. If you’re going too fast, your brakes may cause you to go into a slide or fishtail. If that happens, remember to go with the slide and not turn the wheel against it.
Treat the weather as a factor in your day when possible. Look at forecasts and weather reports so you know what you’re in for. You may have to leave earlier to stay ahead of bad weather or simply to deal with being stuck in it. Alternatively, pick your battles wisely, if you don’t need to go out in bad weather, simply don’t.
We get a lot from our parents. Our names, our looks, sometimes even our political beliefs. What if our parents were more responsible for who we are than we realize? According to an article at The Telegraph, a French study conducted by the Vinci Autoroutes Foundation says we are the drivers our parents made us.
Think about that for a moment, the average person sends just shy of 38,000 hours driving in their lifetime. Your child will be sitting behind you, observing your driving behavior for a good chunk of their young lives. How you respond to on the road may dictate how your child will respond as a driver later in life. With most learned bad behavior, a parent will think of their child “monkey see, monkey do”. And it’s completely true, but we don’t take this into consideration with driving.
The study found 65% of those polled [993 drivers age 18-25] said that they were influenced by the driving behaviors of their parents. 75% of those polled who said they prone to road rage also admitted their parents were as well. 77% of speeders said they were second generation violators, throwing mom or dad under the bus. Parents weren’t mindful of pedestrians? Neither were those polled nearly ¾’s of the time anyway.
The parallels of traffic offenses between the generations continue to go on per the Telegraph article. Running red lights? Yeah, Dad was always trying to beat the traffic light. Drinking and driving? Uh-huh, mom did. Drowsy driving? Yep. We continue to see bad habits of the children originating with the parents most of the time in these scenarios.
And we should not be surprised.
Children are like sponges, soaking up what is around them. Aggression, erratic behavior, poor decision making, these are things we expose them to, highlighting our worst behavior as the norm. Parents have to remember that they are role models to their children and that includes in the car. Learned behavior can be the hardest to shake because it’s been instilled through repetition, consistently over time. That’s why what we expose our kids to should consistently be our best effort, even on the road.
Last week, driving down Interstate 25 in Colorado was a Budweiser tractor trailer loaded with beer. This is not an uncommon occurrence. However if you glanced in your rear view at the truck, what you saw was anything but typical. The truck, you see, had no driver…
So you’re not going to fall for the idea of a “haunted truck”. If you’ve read this blog before you know my fascination with self-driving cars. This particular instance was a joint venture between Anheuser-Busch and Uber’ this s subsidiary OTTO, which specializes in making self-driving tractor-trailer trucks a reality. OTTO’s hardware helped the truck drive over 120 miles on this beer run all by itself.
The main thing OTTO isn’t doing [yet!] is city driving. The truck did have a driver on-board specifically for getting on and off the interstate to start and make the delivery. OTTO’s hardware here was essentially used as an AI auto-pilot for the easier and lengthier part of the trek. It stayed in one lane, accelerating and braking as necessary.
OTTO allows for higher productivity and greater safety. Truck Drivers can plot their breaks across longer stretches of highway where OTTO can be enabled. It allows for greater fuel efficiency and faster delivery.OTTO company attitudes seem to be based more on the idea that this is a tool for drivers and not a replacement for them and won’t be one for years to come. We’ll see.
Check out Uber and Budweiser’s video on the self driving truck below.