Gridlock Guy: New Year’s resolutions for behind the wheel

Last week we looked back to the top five traffic stories of 2014. Now, as we look ahead to 2015, I want to look at how I can be a better driver. So, here are five goals I have for behind the wheel this year.

Drive with more attention

The single biggest issue with driving safety is the presence of smart phones and other distractions behind the wheel. No matter the laws, most people, myself included, cannot help but sneak a peek at a device while we are driving. Sometimes we do it slightly more safely, such as at a traffic light or when stuck in gridlock. But then there are those other times when we start subtly weaving as we try to shoot a short text back or fumble to try and answer a touchscreen phone. This behavior causes crashes, injuries, and deaths. I’m making a real goal to better my own distracted driving.

Plan my commute before I leave

I have preached this before in my traffic blog, but I sometimes even break my own rules. I strongly you take a look at our WSB Traffic apps and listen to our reports before making a trip. You will know which routes to take or how long the ride may be before getting behind the wheel. If you know to take an alternate route, this helps prevent using navigation while driving and avoids that extra distraction. Being prepared is also just simple common sense. I pledge to properly plan my commute and save myself and potentially some others trouble.

Less road rage

I am not the worst at road rage, but I usually act very irrationally when the bug finally bites. I’d be lying if I said I had never given someone the finger or even brake-checked someone. Being behind the wheel gives us a shield and this seeming invincibility allows that raging beast to flash its teeth. That same anger is much less likely to jump out with a stranger in person over something as inconsequential as tailgating or a selfish lane change. But being inside a vehicle changes our behavior adversely. For everyone, the less road rage the better. I’m going to do my best to keep my temper in check.

Driving nearer to the speed limit

I used to be a speed demon. Maybe my affinity for NASCAR racing or the aforementioned behind-the-wheel invincibility the automobile provides was the cause. I used to live at 85 mph or 20 to 30 mph over the speed limit. As I have grown up, gotten lectured by Mrs. Turnbull, and seen speeding tickets pile up and insurance rates rise, I’ve finally learned my lesson: drive the speed limit - or close to it at least. I find myself a much more cautious driver these days and try to keep my speeds within 10 or 15 mph of the limit. But I have a newer car that accelerates quickly and has almost gotten me a ticket before. As part of my paying closer attention to the roads, paying mind to my speeds even more is another 2015 traffic goal.

Drive less

Fat chance in Atlanta, you say. Mass transit in Atlanta is not widespread enough to really eat into how much I drive. My schedule calls for me to be in my car quite a bit. (I even do traffic reports from the two-way radio in my car before the WSB Skycopter takes off). So, probably like you, MARTA does not provide me much help. But I think we can help put fewer vehicles on the road by being pickier about when we drive. Could we carpool some places? Do we all have to go that one place in separate cars? Is walking an option? Is there mass transit nearby I could use once a week? At least asking these questions puts our thinking in the right direction, even if acting on it is limited by the lack of options. But if we all drove just a few less times in the entire year, that is progress in an automobile-dependent metropolis like Atlanta. I promise to try and do my part.