Busch Gardens and Disney World are about to get busier than usual as schools across the nation let out and tourists hit the road for some fun. There’s plenty to see in the Tampa Bay area, so it’s important to be mindful of those visiting.
Tourists can unwittingly slow down traffic as they try to navigate unknown streets or take in their surroundings. More vehicles on the road may increase the stress of morning and evening rush hours. Within the city, some motorists may experience more pedestrian traffic as well.
While there’s nothing that can be done about longer lines for your favorite roller coaster or the plethora of beach towels dotting the coast, we can all manage to drive more safely to ensure everyone gets to their destination.
Defensive Driving During Tourist Season
It’s important to note that defensive driving and aggressive driving are not the same thing. Aggressive driving covers a slew of negative driving behaviors such as tailgating, speeding, cutting off other motorists, and weaving through traffic. Defensive driving, on the other hand, is a set of behaviors that actually help reduce your accident risk.
The idea behind defensive driving is ensuring that you are focused on the task at hand and that you are aware of everyone else on the road. Here’s a bit of a refresher from your driver’s ed class.
Limit distractions. That means no eating, texting, or switching between radio stations. Your hands should be on the wheel and you should be facing forward. Tourists who are unsure of where they are going are more likely to drive erratically. They may attempt a u-turn or slow down quickly when they realize they’re about to pass their turn. By staying focused on the road, you can ensure you have the time you need to react appropriately.
You should never drive if you’re tired or under the influence. Safe driving means being able to respond appropriately to different situations. If your reflexes are inhibited by exhaustion, prescription drugs, alcohol, or illegal drugs, you may not be able to maneuver the vehicle as necessary.
Scan The Road
As you drive, you should be checking your mirrors and watching the vehicles in front of you. Knowing how others are driving gives you a better understanding of the types of behaviors or maneuvers they may exhibit or participate in. For example, someone weaving through traffic is more likely to cut you off. Rather than slamming on the brakes in surprise when it happens, you’ll be able to slow down appropriately to ensure you remain safely in control of your vehicle despite the other driver’s aggressive tactics. Being aware of drivers who are drifting in and out of lanes is also helpful. This may be more common with tourists attempting to check their GPS or messaging a friend to let them know they’ve arrived. Tourists may also be more likely to drive slowly as they try to find their location or to cut you off so they don’t miss an exit ramp.
Give Yourself Space
Follow other vehicles at a safe distance so you always have room to stop. The rule of thumb is to be at least two seconds behind another vehicle, meaning that once the vehicle in front of you has passed a landmark, it should take you at least two seconds to pass it. If you notice out of state plates, consider moving to another lane or granting them three seconds of space so you aren’t surprised by any of their moves.
Tourists are a vital part of our Florida economy. Let’s play nicely on the roadways so we can all enjoy our summers.