Drive Defensively

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

I know it’s not something I normally talk about; but I want to talk about driving during the holiday season. My wife and I traveled about 150 miles to spend Thanksgiving with our kids and grandkids, and I was instantly reminded of just how crazy holiday driving can be. What is supposed to be a joyous time can easily turn ugly because of the stress that people are in and how that ends up manifesting in their driving.

As further evidence of how bad the roads can be, I passed 7 state troopers while driving there, on a stretch of road where I might ordinarily see one, maybe two at the most. Obviously, our law enforcement recognizes the danger on the roads during holiday times. So, here are a few pointers we should all keep in mind.

Drunk Drivers

Statistically, there’s very real evidence that the incidence of drunk driving increases during the holiday season and especially on holidays. It seems there are a lot of people who can’t celebrate without something to help them do so. That’s fine, if that’s what they want to do; but they really shouldn’t be on the road. Much of the reason for the increased police presence is to deal with the problem of drunk driving.

The best thing to do, when it comes to drivers who have had a bit too much to drink is to avoid them. If you can get far enough ahead of them to be out of the danger zone, then do so. But if you can’t drop back. It’s worth the extra time, to ensure your safety.

When I was teaching my kids to drive, the one thing I really hammered into them was “Always assume the other driver is going to do something stupid.” That’s the way I look at other cars on the road, constantly on the lookout for them to do something stupid. You’d be amazed how many accidents that has kept me out of.

Road Rage

Sadly, many people stress out during the holidays, either due to shopping, financial worries or because of having lost a loved one. Regardless of the reason, these people take offense at other drivers and are not reluctant to show it. Besides the typical cutting others off on the road, one really bad place for this to manifest is in parking lots. There, the problem is magnified by proximity, as it is not easy to get away from them.

The best thing you can do, when it comes to people with road rage is to not respond. If you can’t control your own anger, you really shouldn’t be carrying a pistol anyway. You don’t know those people and don’t’ need to be proving you’re in the right. Just drive away and let them yell at the air.

Criminal Traps

The holiday season is also a prime time for criminals to set traps, either on back roads, where there isn’t much traffic or on busy city streets. Obviously, we’re talking about two different kinds of traps.

The ones on back roads will be staged to look like an accident, often with one or two people lying on the road, feigning helplessness. When someone stops to lend assistance, their friends jump out of hiding to steal their car or do them harm. If you run across something like this, don’t stop, even if you are like me and want to help; call the police instead and give them the location.

As for the traps which happen in town, those are either pedestrians or cars jumping out in front of you in traffic, so that you will hit them. This is the classic insurance scam, as they will feign injury (usually whiplash) to get money from your insurance company. Fighting this goes back to assuming the other guy is going to do something stupid; but even then, it’s hard, as they don’t give you much chance to hit the brakes.

Road Conditions

Wintertime generally means snow and ice, at least in parts of the country where it’s cold enough. That makes roads slippery, increasing the chance of accidents. In the south, it won’t be snow, but rain. That can be just as bad, especially after a dry spell. The rain won’t mix with oil on the roads, making them just about as slick as ice.

If you remember back to driver’s ed in high school, they taught you to slow down when these driving conditions occur. That both gives you better traction and more time to react. When I was coming back from my kids this Thanksgiving, I slowed down 10 mph, due to the rain and it being really dark. A couple of cars that passed me by didn’t fare so well and it only took me an extra 10 minutes to get home.

Watch Your Speed

Speaking of speed, the holiday season is a prime time to receive the gift of a speeding ticket from your local police department. All those officers having to work on the holidays need something to do and passing out speeding tickets slows down traffic, making the road safer. Besides, it makes them look good. You’re supposed to be enjoying the holidays, so slow down and enjoy the trip, as well as the destination.

I realize these things may seem a bit obvious; but it never hurts to be reminded. I had to remind myself first, so I figured if I needed the reminder, you might need it too. Enjoy the holidays and stay safe. And don’t forget to keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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