1. Rainproof Your Windshield
recommend replacing your blades every three months. Keep a spare set in
your trunk. A product such as Rain Clear can also help minimize the work
of your wipers; spray it onto the glass every few weeks. In some light
rains, it makes the wipers almost unnecessary.
2. Skip the DIY Car Wash
Washing a car at home uses five to 20 times more water than a
professional car wash. You also aren't doing your car any favors: A
recent study at the University of Texas proved that a single DIY wash
can leave scratches as deep as a tenth of the paint's total thickness.
3. Eliminate Distractions
As driving instructors stress, your hands tend to follow where your
eyes are looking. Adjusting the radio dial takes 5.5 seconds—and that's
5.5 seconds when his eyes may not be on the road and both hands may not
be on the wheel. Dialing a phone triples your risk of a crash. Reaching
for a moving object increases it nine times. Worst of all is texting,
which makes you 23 times more likely to crash. "Avoid the temptation to
multitask behind the wheel altogether and put your cell phone in the
glove compartment every time you get in the car," says Ray Lahood, U.S.
Secretary of Transportation.
4. Lower Your Seat
Drivers who sit higher feel as
if they're driving slower. Thus, SUV drivers, who are already piloting
the vehicles most prone to roll, drive faster because they feel like
they're creeping along. So lower your seat to get the sensation of more
5. Turn Your Lights On
study from 1994 found that people who drive with their headlights on
during daylight hours have an 11 percent decreased risk of being in an
accident with another automobile.
6. Assume the Position
Smaller blind spots mean you'll crane your neck less. Try this mirror
adjustment method from Tom and Ray Magliozzi, hosts of NPR's Car Talk:
Set your rearview mirror as you normally would, then tilt it upward so
you sit up straight. Lean your head against the driver's window, then
set your left mirror so you can see the back corner of your car. Lean
right to do the right mirror.
7. Save Your Clutch
Don't ride your clutch in anticipation of shifts. You'll accelerate
quicker and your clutch will last longer if you use it like expensive
8. Check Your Hands
Your seat is positioned properly when you can hang your wrists over the
top of the steering wheel. And remember not to grip the wheel as you
would a tennis racket, with your thumbs wrapped around so that they
connect in back with your fingers. Instead, leave your thumbs on top of
the wheel. Otherwise, in a collision, the wheel can whip back around and
snap your thumbs.
9. Don't Jump the Gun
Ramp metering, or the use of traffic signals at freeway on-ramps to
regulate flow, forces a small time penalty on drivers at the beginning
of their commutes, but it pays off. "Requiring vehicles to wait 20 or 30
seconds can save drivers 5 to 10 minutes on their trip," says David
Schrank, Ph.D., of the Texas Transportation Institute.
10. Look Left, Then Right
Forty percent of car crashes occur at intersections, according to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as do 22 percent of all
How to Handle any Driving Scenario
11. Deal with a Deer in the Road
radical evasive action to avoid a collision, which is more likely to
cause you bodily harm than making contact with the animal will. Plus,
you're facing a wild animal, and there's no way to tell in which
direction it will flee. If you have time, flash your headlights to try
to scare the creature out of your path. If a collision is imminent,
brake with your steering wheel straight. At the last possible second,
steer away from the animal's midsection to prevent the animal from
crashing through your windshield and landing on your lap.
12. Downshift Like a Racer
Try the heel-toe shift, recommends driver Robby Gordon, winner of three
Baja 1000s. "Use your foot to apply the accelerator and brake at the
same time," he says. "As you apply the brake, keep your right foot on
the right side of the pedal so you can rock your foot over and use your
heel to blip the throttle, which raises the rpms and allows the car to
drop into gear more easily."
13. Ford a Stream
Do not drive in water higher
than the air intake, which is typically on the front side fender. Pick
an area where the flow of water is slow and enter at an angle to cut
down on the surface area of the vehicle being pushed against by the
stream. Enter gently but with enough speed to cause a bow wave, which
pushes the water forward, creating a shallower area, and ford at a
14. Corner on Dirt
sideways is the quickest way through a corner on dirt, driver Rhys
Millen, who was the General Lee's main stunt driver in Dukes of Hazzard.
"To do it well," he says, "initiate the slide through input to the
steering wheel—you oversteer into the turn. Flick the wheel in the
opposite direction of the curve to break traction, then whip it back the
other way to initiate a slide in the direction you want to go. Once the
car starts to slide, you can 'steer' by adjusting the throttle. More or
less throttle will make the car slide at a wider or tighter arc,
respectively. More gas makes for a more sideways slide. If you lift off
the throttle, the car will still go sideways, but it will start to
reduce speed and straighten out again."
15. Drive on Sand
Before driving onto a beach or into the desert, get out and drop your
tire pressure to 12 psi, which helps you "float" on the sand. If you do
start to sink into the sand, keep the momentum going: Do not stop. If
you really feel the car getting stuck, reverse, back out, and look for a
better way forward.
16. Survive a Rear-End Collision
First, pull your seatbelt taut. Next, release your foot from the brake
and put the car in neutral. This will help distribute the force and may
prevent you from being rear-ended twice, which can happen if you're
applying the brakes after being hit and the car behind you is still
17. Get Unstuck
tires have sunk into mud, snow, or sand, driver Cameron Steele, a Baja
1000 winner, says to lower the tire pressure way down—as low as 5 or
6—and dig out space in front of the tires to give yourself a run. "If
you still don't get traction, put down some pieces of carpet," he says.
"But always put a leash on what you use for traction—say 50 feet
long—and tie it to your bumper so you don't have to run back into the
mud or gunk to pick up the pieces."
18. Survive a Water Landing
Almost all cars have electronic windows that short out when they come
in contact with water. So invest in a center punch, a device shaped like
a screwdriver but with a sharp center point. It makes breaking a window
a cinch. Store it in your center console or glove box—not your trunk.
19. Maneuver Tight Corners
At the BMW Performance Driving School, instructor Jim Clark says these
four words over and over: "Slow in, fast out." When taking a corner, you
need to scrub as much of that speed as you can while the car is braking
in a straight line, then you can accelerate out of the curve. The
converse is "Fast in, maybe no out."
See Also :