image LifeStyle

Opening the Doors to Healthier and Stress-Free Living

A Column by Alice Abbott-Moore,
Content Access/Information Delivery Teams, Ekstrom Library

Life on the Road

Since September 11, 2001 many people have changed their travel habits. During Thanksgiving week, more people were on the road driving than in past years. To avoid problems while on the road, apply the following tips:

Keep the Car in Good Working Order - Maintenance and prevention sure cut down on breakdowns. Oil changes, maintaining fluids, keeping air in the tires, and rotating the tires can help keep a car running for a long time with few problems.

Plan Ahead - If you know that your drive to work averages between 10 and 30 minutes, give yourself 40 minutes. Don’t leave late and expect to make up for lost time on the road.

Be Physically Ready - Get plenty of rest, eat sensibly, exercise, and try not to overdo caffeine. The more fit you are, the more alert and proactive you will be should the need arise.

Be Physically Ready - Get plenty of rest, eat sensibly, exercise, and try not to overdo caffeine. The more fit you are, the more alert and proactive you will be should the need arise.

Relax - Tune the radio to your favorite “easy listening” station. Music can calm your nerves and help you to enjoy your time in the car. If you have a CD or tape player, treat yourself to some new tapes and allow yourself to listen to them only in the car. Also, selections from Books on Tape are wonderful audio choices! However, be sure to keep the music or other audio selections at a reasonable level so you can hear approaching emergency vehicles.

Obey the Speed Limit - Driving too fast frequently leads to a condition called “bottle-necking.” This is when drivers start out well spaced but end up at the same place at the same time, bringing traffic to a standstill. Traffic flows best when everyone is traveling at about the same rate. Drive the posted speed limit.

Do Not Tailgate - The less space between you and the car ahead of you, the more chance you could become involved in an accident. Leave some space to provide a little cushion. Don’t think that tailgating will prod the person ahead of you to move faster. It may have the opposite effect, causing more delay or an accident.

Pull over to let Emergency Vehicles Pass - When an ambulance, fire truck, or police car appears with sirens blaring and lights flashing, get out of the way. Too many motorists think that they don’t need to pull over when emergency vehicles approach. It makes a huge difference. Lives are at stake. Emergency personnel need the help of the public to let them pass through safely and efficiently.

Be Clear in Your Communication - Be clear when communicating with other drivers. Also, a smile and a wave of acknowledgement go a long way in congestion and traffic jams.

Identify Alternate Routes - The shortest distance between two points may not always be a straight line. Try mapping out an alternate route. Even if it looks longer on paper, you may find it is less congested. However, if you have chosen the road less traveled, don’t turn it into a racetrack by speeding.

Vary Your Commuting Schedule - Talk to your employer about adopting more flexible work hours. Allowing employees the option of starting their day either before or after the rush hour is a good way to avoid driving during the most congested periods.

Try Telecommuting - No single technological breakthrough has the potential to alter our work environments as completely as the Internet. With the invention of e-mail and the World Wide Web, many workers are finding that there is no reason to leave home. Everything they need to perform their jobs efficiently and effectively is at their fingertips. Not surprisingly, the trend in working at home or from satellite offices is growing quickly. Ask your employer if you can telecommunicate once or twice a week or more. You might also point out that car crashes cost employers billions in medical care and sick leave each year.

Use Public Transportation - Try TARC. Even if you find it less convenient than walking out the door and getting into your car, public transportation can give you some relief from life behind the wheel. Try taking TARC just once or twice a week in the beginning. Bring a newspaper or magazine along for the ride.

Move Closer to Your Job - Many people are finding that, despite the cost or inconvenience involved, moving closer to work is the best solution for avoiding a frustrating commute. Living closer to your job not only spares you a hectic drive, it also gives you more free time.

Just Be Late - If all else fails, just be late. No one ever died simply because they were late for work. But many people have died on the roads while rushing to get to work on time.

So, when you get out there and drive, try these tips and enjoy your time in your car as much as you can. See how your life will improve when you improve your time on the road!

Aggressiveness on the Road: The Traffic Jam Reaction by Susan Fendel (no longer available)

A Driver’s Guide to Coping with Congestion