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Advise for the Summer Driver
Since April 1st, I have been on the road at least once a week and have crossed Wolf Creek Pass (in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA) at least 20 times. As spring moved into summer I noticed a steady decline in driving safety. This means that being a defensive driver went from 'good practice' to 'essential' to avoid being in a crash on the road. So here is some advice for the summer driver:
- Slow down! Or at least stay within the speed limit. You will get there safely and save time not having the repercussions of being in a hurry and speeding. Consider leaving earlier if you anticipate heavy traffic. I have worked with several patients in the hospital whose summer vacations wer ruined by being involved in a crash resulting in broken bones.
- Make sure your car is in good working order. This is just as important in the summer as it is in the winter. If you have a medical condition which makes heat intolerable, be sure the air conditioner is fully charged and ready to go. Also keep in mind that you will expend a lot more energy walking to/from your car in high heat, so plan shopping trips in the cooler part of the day.
- It is important to carry emergency supplies in your car. Water is at the top of the list, both for yourself and any other people or pets you have on board, and for your car. A sun hat and insect spray are good to have in case you have to walk for gas, or just walk a long way in a parking lot.
- Don't drive into smoke that obscures your view of the road. We currently have seven wildfires in the state of Colorado. Also, do not drive into a dust storm that obscures your view. I ran into this driving across the San Luis Valley on my last trip back over the passes. And should you be lucky enough to have some rain, don't drive into water going over the road unless you are absolutely certain a) how deep it is and b) what is beneath the water.
- Be courteous. While talking with a gentleman from Holland who works as a traveling salesman, he remarked how much more polite American drivers are than those of other countries. Now, I personally think that some areas are better about this than others, but that was his overall impression of the U.S. So, a pat on our cumulative backs!
Keep up the good work! Keep the rubber side down and enjoy your summer!
Karen Richardson, OTR/CDRSRegistered Occupational Therapist, Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist
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