Some Really Good Driver Safety Tips

Last fall, I got a speeding ticket. It was my first time being pulled over in 10 years and as someone who takes pride in driving cautiously, I was pretty ashamed. But the only thing that outweighed my shame was my fear about what would happen to our insurance rates.

Luckily for me, I was able to mitigate my ticket. The court graciously allowed me to take a course that would dismiss my speeding infraction. This past Friday I took the day off work so I could take a class called Attitudinal Dynamics of Driving (ADD). Despite the fancy name, it was basically just a driver safety course. With that said, it was just about the most interesting driver safety course I could have enrolled in.

Our instructor, Rick Sapone, conducted an extremely interesting morning course that ran just over four hours. Mr. Sapone spewed his knowledge and uncanny humor to me and eight other fellow motorists looking to have their tickets disappear.

Because I really did get a lot out of the class, I wanted to share some of the more interesting tidbits I learned from Rick. I hope you find it as helpful as I did…

I learned a lot from Rick Sapone about behind the wheel driver safety.

Rick’s Philosophy – The main theme that Mr. Sapone hammered home throughout the course is that we aren’t important enough to drive distracted. That phone call, text message, radio adjustment, and Instagram glance can wait while behind the wheel. I don’t have anything more pressing in my life when driving than to make sure I am operating my vehicle in a safe manner.

Drowsy Driving Best Practice – Ooops! Did you almost doze off behind the wheel? Pull over well off the road and set your phone’s timer for 15 minutes. Now close your eyes and take a nap. Right when your timer goes off, get back on the road. Rick says that a 15-minute snooze is the sweet spot for becoming refreshed when battling drowsiness. Anything less isn’t adequate and anything more will send you into REM sleep and make you a liability once you hit the road again.

Secure Your Back Seat – Don’t place items (groceries, ice scrapers, bowling balls, etc.) on your back seat. If you get into a collision those items become projectiles that will travel just as fast as your car was going before impact. Rick had all kinds of stories regarding back seat “luggage” piercing driver and front seat passengers.

Not Worth the Two Minutes – Rick outlined the absurdity of driving over the speed limit to save time. If you drove 70 MPH in a 60 MPH zone over the course of a 1-hour commute, you would just save a maximum of 160 seconds. That doesn’t even equate to three minutes! Don’t put yourself and others at risk to save an insignificant amount of time. Instead, just do the responsible thing and leave your house five minutes early.

I Have Been Lied To – Did you know it is just an urban legend that you can go over the speed limit to pass other cars? Yep, when the posted speed limit indicates 60 MPH, that means the actual speed limit is—you guessed it—60 MPH. My whole life I thought drivers were given a 5-10 MPH cushion to pass cars. That’s not the case.

Road Rage Tips – Rick provided a lot of great guidance on dealing with road rage. When being harassed by an irate driver, if you are on the freeway/highway, try to exit and pull into a police station or fire station. If that isn’t possible, Rick offered another helpful alternative…find a 7/11 or other convenience store. These places are covered by surveillance cameras and will ultimately provide crucial evidence against the driver. Bonus Tip: Did you know that Costco parking lots are some of the worst spots for road rage incidents?

You’ll Love This Hack – We all know that when pulled over, the law enforcement officer will ask for registration and proof of insurance. This usually entails thumbing through a messy glove compartment to find the documents. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. You can snap a photo of your registration/proof of insurance and legitimately provide that to the officer. Besides the convenience factor, there is another reason for the permissibility of this: when thieves ransack a car, they will look at registration and insurance documents for an address. They will then hightail it over to the residence and rob you blind. The photo hack is a way to avoid this.

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Well, I hope you learned something tonight! Thanks to Rick Sapone and the Spokane Valley court system for forgiveness of my infraction in exchange for me taking a very educational course. Don’t Blink.

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