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Driving “defensively” just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. There are some measures you can take to ensure your safety. There’s a lot to avoid out there, but you can steer clear of trouble by just relaxing and taking things easy.

This is meant mostly for freeway gridlock, the most challenging and frustrating form of traffic. What you’ll find is that the majority of other drivers out there are “brakers” – people who speed up to slowing traffic and have to hit their brakes.

A good way to ease traffic, both for yourself and other drivers, is to put a large gap in between your car and the one in front of you. It’s a pretty basic rule of driving, but it’s often forgotten among all of our high performance vehicles, cell phones, SUVs and hectic lifestyle. However, it’s the one thing that can prevent an accident as effectively as anything else. The recommended space might be one car length per 10 miles-an-hour. It’s better to have at least double that, especially if you’re traveling at 60 mph or faster. Just imagine the car in front of you stopping instantly, as if it hit a brick wall. Would you collide into it, or would you be able to stop in time?

The biggest problem that arises from leaving a good-sized gap is other drivers riding too close behind you. Don’t worry about them. Try to be courteous and get out of the fast lane if you’re not keeping up. If you are and you simply have a long gap in front of you, let the other driver stress out and try to get around. It’s just another braker wanting to hurry up and wait.

This brings up another point of good driving. If ever there is a conflict developing with another driver, let it go. Don’t gesture back. Don’t race or swerve or suddenly hit your brakes. It’s not worth risking lives over a little road rage.

You’ll find if you relax, leave a big gap in front of your car and plan your maneuvers, you’ll enjoy the smooth ride. You can often find “cushion zones” in the herds of cars flying down the freeway. If you keep your speed right -- not too slow and not too fast -- you can ride in these zones and have all three, four or six lanes to yourself. This is especially true for long road trips on the interstate.

When traffic is stop and go, try to get a large gap in front again and go slowly. By pacing yourself, you can roll through the stop-an-go pattern by just going slow. It can be much less aggravating. It also helps ease traffic as the cars behind you are not seeing brake lights or hitting their brakes as much. It’s also easier on your car and the environment.

Just remember that there are real people in the other cars, even though they might just seem like obstacles. By relaxing and respecting the rules of the road and not rushing yourself, the ride is much more enjoyable, no matter where you’re going.