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Commute Safely
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My job is almost perfect. The work is interesting and worthwhile, my co-workers are great, and the pay is good. The only downside is the commute. It is 75 miles round-trip, every day. I tell myself it is God reminding me I am not yet in heaven. Safe driving is as important to my health as eating right and getting enough exercise. Following these rules helps keep me safe.

1. Get Enough Rest. While alcohol is the leading cause of traffic accidents, fatigue is up there. A good night’s sleep is the best way to avoid fatigue. I go to bed earlier than I did in eighth grade, but eight hours sleep keeps me from driving to work tired, or nodding off during the trip home.

2. Allow Extra Time. I plan my arrival at work 30 minutes before my first meeting of the morning. It gives me time to review my upcoming day’s activities before getting busy. If something delays my arrival—an accident snarling traffic, or bad weather—I still arrive on time.

3. Avoid Peak Traffic. Sitting in traffic during rush hour burns gas. This is bad for the environment, bad for your pocketbook, and hard on your nerves. My company allows flex time, allowing employees to start earlier or later to avoid rush hour traffic. I come in before the morning rush hour. I avoid the parking-lot phase on the interstate, and it gives me an extra hour each day with European co-workers. I win and my company wins. See if your company allows flex time.

4. Stay Aware. Eternal vigilance is the price of safety. I always scan the environment around me. What cars are ahead of me? Behind me? Is the driver beside me concentrating on the road or their cell phone? I look for “reserve space” openings available if the car ahead of me stops unexpectedly or the car beside me drifts into my lane. I have avoided several accidents by doing this and keeping alert to potential dangers.

5. Exercise Courtesy. The Golden Rule goes double in traffic. Treat other drivers the way you wish to be treated. Do you like others riding your bumper, cutting you off, or honking immediately after the light turns green? If not, do not do it to others. I live in Texas, where traffic signs urge “Drive Friendly.” Many Texans actually do. If I try to merge, someone generally lets me in. I pay it forward by doing the same.

6. Avoid Chances. Unless your job is worth dying for, it is not worth getting into a traffic accident over. Do you really need to beat that light? Suddenly switch lanes to avoid missing an exit? Overdrive your headlights? You win a few minutes off your trip while risking ruining your car or hurting yourself. Is it worth it? Probably not.

I hope these tips help you think about ways you can make your commute to work a safe one, for you and for others.

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By Mark N. Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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