Tip #2 – Acceleration and Stopping

Over the years of my driving career, now spanning well over five decades, hundreds of cars have passed me in parallel lanes in order to speed to the traffic signal ahead. Arriving there, the drivers await the instant the light changes to green in order to heavily accelerate toward the next light. Not good!

As you drive in such conditions, it is good to scan the panorama ahead. There are ample opportunities to save money as well as to drive with an increased measure of safety. Watching the traffic flow will allow you to adjust your acceleration with a view to using the accelerator and brake pedal lightly and sparingly. With a little practice you can accomplish this with scant notice to those driving near you. I assure you, however, that your gasoline bill will be an object of notice. It will go down.

There are additional benefits too. Every use of the brake pedal puts a measure of wear on the brake system. “Stopping on a dime” is expensive. Most brake shoes or pads wear more quickly on the front wheels. Crunching stops carry with them a demand for more braking power. Such stops wear brake surfaces far more than more gradual ones. Allowing yourself to drive with such habits costs money. Perhaps more important, it lulls the driver into forgetting that driving in such a manner on slippery surfaces can easily result in an accident.

Actually, what I am suggesting is merely an extension of an existing traffic law within most states. It is called “driving within the assured clear distance.” It is unlawful to drive, ever, in a manner such as to be unable to bring one’s vehicle to a safe stop due to the lawful actions of other drivers moving before you. “Jack rabbit starts” and spectacular stops will eventually lead such a driver into an unsafe situation that will probably result in an accident.

Finally, there is another benefit. Your passengers will enjoy their ride with you as you drive in a consistent manner that displays care, smoothness and predictability. On the other hand, we have all probably had the misfortune to ride with a driver whose habits throw his passengers around on the seats and lead to “white knuckle” experiences.

Try driving for a week as though there were eggs atop your accelerator and brake pedal and see if you don’t experience a pleasant difference. I’m sure your regular passengers will!


  1. Dad… I remember this advice almost every time I get behind the wheel of a car. Today especially because I am driving Mr. Gothard to Indianapolis. You have to admit here, though, what you are describing is basically quantifying what it is like to drive like and old man. 🙂

    I used to save a lot of ink and just say to Kyle; “Drive like an old man, son. Drive like an old man.”

    I love you. Thanks for all the good, sound, practical advice you have given that still rings in my ears and in my heart.


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