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Old 04-17-2016, 07:00 AM   #1
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Driving defensively against offensive drivers

I've seen a few threads on cell phone use while driving. I thought the purpose of this thread could be twofold:

1) share your observations/cautionary tales

2) provide tips that can benefit all drivers and especially RV drivers

I'm starting this thread because during the 1500 mile trip I took last week, I can not tell you how many times drivers performed absolutely stupid, thoughtless, offensive (in every definition of that word), reckless and potentially fatal maneuvers on the road.

And I'm of multiple minds. I want to help educate these poor souls, but I wouldn't be phased if evolution took its course with them either. If I'm honest, pre-trailer, I drove terribly myself and could have caused the kinds of injury I fear today could come at any moment no matter how defensively I may be driving.

As an example, along much of my route to the mothership, the speed limit was 70 mph - which I did for some stretches (though preferred 60) - and still people passed me in a blur more often than not, WHILE TEXTING!!!! Not just holding the phone to their face for a call, but actually texting! We hear of texting "accidents" all the time which is maddening because it is 100% preventable if people would just stop imagining they alone are the center of the universe.

Enough pontificating. Here's a link to some simple tips to get started. What do you think?

http://m.wikihow.com/Drive-Defensively
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:08 AM   #2
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Another risky move are those who enter the highway, usually blowing through a YIELD sign, but even if not, ignoring the laws of physics and racing out to get in front of your rig presumably to save the 3 seconds of time they'd sacrifice to safely enter after you pass.

I like to drive in the slow lane both to drive a little slower when possible and to not tick off drivers in the middle or far left lane. Having the rear view camera is helpful here. I can tell whether or not it's safe for me to move to the left as I get near an on ramp and if not, I'm prepared to back off the gas and let the impatient driver in.

I want to say, "poor guy isn't going camping" and feel bad for him. Unfortunately, I give in to the temptation to hate him instead...that's not defensive driving either! Gita do better there.

Here's some RV-specific defensive driving tips:

http://www.dmv.org/how-to-guides/rv-handling.php
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:35 AM   #3
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I would love a bumper sticker that said,"If you are so important that you need to use the phone while in the car, why are you not in a chauffeur driven limo?"
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Old 04-17-2016, 07:59 AM   #4
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When I was still working for the US Government, I was required to take a National Safety Council approved defensive driving course every three years. Didn't cost me anything— since it was required for the job, the Government paid for it. But now that I'm retired, I think it's worth paying the fee to continue the trend.

Number-one rule of defensive driving— although it's never stated so succinctly in the training— is this: Never put yourself in a position where the only thing keeping you out of an accident is the other driver's skill behind the wheel. Everything else is just tips on how to do that.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:03 AM   #5
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Watch out for semi trucks too.
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Old 04-17-2016, 08:11 AM   #6
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Good thread, Steve. I know exactly what you mean. Even though we are not anywhere near an Interstate Highway here in Santa Rosa Beach, we are wrought with bad driving. Being that we are primarily a tourist community, not only are we dealing with texting while driving. We have the added distractions of vehicles filled with anxious children excited about going to the beach. As if these are not enough, we also need to consider that fact that the majority of these drivers are lost.

Going out into this mayhem makes me a better driver in that I have come to assume that stupid driving is the norm. I try never to be in a hurry and be conscious of my surroundings at all times.

When we head out on the open road with the Airstream, I try to apply these same driving rules. On these long trips, we avoid traveling on the Interstates whenever possible. We now take the back roads and drive through the small towns. The Interstates have become somewhat scary for me towing a large trailer. It seems like that if you want to drive 65 mph, you are impeding traffic flow. I am always watching for someone coming up on me really fast while doing something stupid.

My lifelong driving style is predicated by the fact that when I was a much younger man I spent several years as a motorcycle police officer. This experience made made a super observant driver as anyone who has ever spent time riding a motorcycle knows. Even though I had this experience long before the advent of texting, there were still many distractions that resulted in very stupid driving. The only difference between then and now is, then I could do something about it.

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Old 04-17-2016, 08:21 AM   #7
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Second rule of defensive driving: Stupidity always has the right-of-way!

But giving up the right of way to get out of the way of stupid drivers has a downside, too, for the other driver. Those stupid drivers never get a chance to learn just how dangerous they really are, because better drivers clear the way for them. Sometimes they need a really close call to wake them up, but we don't have to be the ones to give it to them; let another stupid driver do it.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:09 AM   #8
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As a motorcyclist, I learned long ago to drive like I'm invisible. That is, I assume that nobody sees me and I drive accordingly. I adjust my speed so that I'm free and clear of clusters of other vehicles whenever possible. I know what I'm doing but don't have any confidence in the other drivers, so avoid them. I apply this tactic to all of my driving. Distracted driving is illegal in my Province but there are still self-important types who feel the law doesn't apply to them (if you're visiting BC, keep your phone in your pocket). These people don't seem to realize how their actions could ruin the lives of others, all because they couldn't wait to answer a call or send a text until they are off the road.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:14 AM   #9
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Time spent on a motorcycle or bicycle teaches you that you're solely responsible for your own safety. Right of way is irrelevant.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:39 AM   #10
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Third rule of defensive driving: Know the limits of your own skill. Most of us aren't nearly as good behind the wheel as we think we are.

Corollary: Improve your limits in training, not on the road. When you're on the road, stay within your own capabilities.
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Old 04-17-2016, 09:45 AM   #11
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I complain to my wife all the time about the driving capabilities of others. If you pass 10 cars on the highway its certain that 7 of the 10 will have one hand on the wheel and the other holding their cell phone.
I've hauled trailers of all shapes and sizes since I was able to reach the foot pedals.
I've been riding motorcycles for years.
Therefore I understand that people hauling trailers can't stop on a dime or sometimes they need help getting in the flow of traffic. I've been there and I'm sure all of you have too!
We have almost been in multiple accidents due to fellow motorist just simply not paying attention to the roads ahead or behind them.
After the last time a teenage kid cut me off before a red light in a compact car sending me off the road with my brake on both trailer and truck fully engaged I nearly lost it. Partly due to the fact once I got stopped and ensured my wife and fur kids were OK, I look over at the kid that cut me off and he flipped me the number one salute. When the light turn green he quickly sped away as I was desperately trying to exit my vehicle which would not have ended well.

After that very trip I installed a train horn to my already installed on-board air compressor. Now when someone is on their cell easing over into my lane I can quickly get their attention! I cannot count the times I have made them drop their cell and put both hands on the wheel desperately trying to regain focus of their surroundings.
No, I don't agree that my horn is the right thing to due but at times only me being defensive isn't enough and that is when the horn comes into effect.
My wife was against it at first, but now after seeing it in action a few times she's quick to say "baby give them the big horn!"
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Old 04-17-2016, 10:03 AM   #12
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What we really need to do for improved safety in this new era is to start training our new drivers on effective skills for successful texting while driving.

Just like the classic "Just Say No" campaign that stopped teenage drug abuse, we need a slogan that crystallizes the issue and teaches how to prevent texting accidents.

I think either "Remember, Look Up Every Two Characters", or "Learn To Steer With Your Knees" would be good.
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Old 04-17-2016, 10:51 AM   #13
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Having driven big trucks for 48 Plus years I have seen most of it. In all our travels we haven't had any problems...we drive 60-65 , in the right lane and we aren't changing lanes unless we have to, use signal lights ahead of time...I do see the rv accidents caused by the rv driver changing lanes and driving faster than they can think, slow down and enjoy the ride...
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Old 04-17-2016, 11:00 AM   #14
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Great thread. Appreciate the tips, especially as I am new to towing.

I've learned to:

1) Slow down
2) Leave a gap
3) Stay out of Miami
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