Christmas is over and 2013 is just around the corner. This is the perfect week to put the final touches on your New Year’s resolutions. In case cars and driving didn’t enter your thought process when you made your resolutions list, here are some suggestions to overcome that deficit. Repeat the following: "I pledge in the coming year to…
…take care of little car problems before they become big." While there are some wear and tear issues that let you keep driving without affecting the cost of repairs, there are many more that will cost you much more if you put it off.
…read the owner’s manual, paying particular attention to the sections on maintenance."
…follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule." If you don’t have an owner’s manual for your vehicle, you likely can find one online. If not, a visit to the parts department of a franchised dealer for your brand should do the trick.
…review my routes and driving schedules." Clustering trips will reduce fuel consumption and finding the best route to get to your destination can produce additional savings. UPS redid their routes several years ago to minimize left turns. Doing this reduced risk, shortened driving time, and decreased fuel consumption. The same strategy could work for you.
…keep my pet out of my lap while driving." Having Fluffy or Fido riding in your lap while you drive is not only distracting, but also dangerous. In the event of a crash, just how well do you think that your pet would do when the little critter gets squished between the air bag and your torso?
…keep my dog from sticking his head out the window while I drive." Yes, I know dogs like to do that. I even had one individual contact me about putting in a power window override switch for the back seat window controls. It seems that his dog learned how to lower the window on his own. The dog would lower the window, the owner would raise it, and then the cycle would repeat. Another reader told me of the pain her dog suffered when he was hit in the eye by some road debris while adopting the “face in the wind” stance. Not only was the vet’s bill expensive, but she was told that these injuries were not uncommon.
…stop complaining about gas prices when I don’t do anything to improve my fuel economy." Even a vehicle that uses lots of gasoline can cut down on its fuel gluttony when its owner drives a little slower, removes unneeded items from the trunk and attends to basic maintenance, like keeping the tires properly inflated. These might seem like small steps, but pushing your vehicle from 18 to 20 miles per gallon is the equivalent of gas price dropping from $3.50 to $3.15 per gallon. Extending your truck’s range from 12 to 14 miles per gallon is the equivalent of gas falling to $3 per gallon.
…to leave more space between my car and the car ahead." Safety experts have long recommended that a three-second gap is required under ideal conditions. When the vehicle ahead passes a landmark, start counting: one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three. If you reach the landmark before you finish, add some more space. Doing so will markedly reduce the likelihood that you will crash into the car ahead of you.
…forgive the actions of other drivers who do really stupid things right in front of me." It’s tempting to react with anger when you are cut off, but what does that accomplish? Chalk it up to the other driver having a bad day and fear not. Eventually a police officer will witness their infraction and pull them over. This happened to a woman who swerved through two lanes to cut me off on I-10 last month in California. An officer stopped her in less than half a mile. Ah, sweet justice.
…take away or reposition things that block my view." This includes parking passes, handicapped parking placards, and definitely air fresheners, CDs, baby booties or whatever else you have dangling from the rearview mirror.
A University of Hertfordshire study conducted by Richard Wiseman (a perfect name for someone conducting research with ramifications for holiday actions) found that only 22 percent of his subjects lived up to their New Year’s resolutions for the entire year. So, rather than try all 10, pick one or two. There are several of these that I need to adopt. I’ll let you know how well I’m doing in June if you do the same.