Ask the Car Chasers: Driver's ed for grown ups
From the moment teenagers hit the legal age, driving becomes a privilege that gets taken for granted. As people become more comfortable in cars, operating them daily for the most mindless tasks, it becomes second nature.
That, however, is when things can get dangerous.
According to Perry Barndt, a car "artist" at Flat 12 Gallery and star of CNBC Prime's "The Car Chasers," becoming lax behind the wheel is one of the most ill-advised things a driver can do.
Barndt is also a stuntman who has appeared in movies like "Terminator 2, "Due Date" and "Predator." He's performed his fair share of car chases, 180's, and near misses, so he knows a thing or two about crashing cars.
"You have to remember all this is very choreographed. It's done by professionals. It's done on a road that has been locked down. And we control the environment," Barndt said.
"It's much different in the real world," he added. "When you're going drive in the real world you got to drive defensively.
Conventional wisdom says it's not just one individual's actions behind the wheel that keep roads safe, but also those of other drivers. In order to stay safe, motor operators must stay alert, aware, and in the moment when behind the wheel.
Barndt offers three basic defensive driving tips he suggests all drivers should follow to ensure their safety.
Rule #1: Do Not Tailgate
The stuntman says the first thing to consider is how closely you follow other cars on the road. He says most people do not leave enough room between their car and the car in front of them. If the person makes an abrupt stop and you're too close, you could easily hit them in the back and have an accident.
"Here's the deal. Figure one car length for every ten miles an hour," Barndt said. "So if you're doing 55 miles an hour you should have six car lengths between you so that if something happens to the car in front of you, you have time to stop or react."
Rule #2: Avoid Distractions
The number two item Barndt says drivers are all guilty of is being distracted. People fidget with the radio, eat, or — especially nowadays with so many mobile devices easily at hand — talk on the phone.
Perhaps even worse is texting, something authorities say is extremely dangerous to do while driving, and many cities and states are moving to outlaw.
"Don't play with the radio. Don't text. Pay attention to what you're doing," Barndt said.
He says keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel at all times is essential to being a safe driver.
Rule #3: Look 300 Feet Ahead of You
The third act many are guilty of is not looking far enough ahead while driving. To drive safely, motor operators have to look past the hood of their car. Barndt recommends you watch 300 feet ahead of you.
If eyes are scanning the area beyond your immediate surroundings, drivers can be ready if another car makes an unsafe move – like backing out of a driveway unexpectedly, or merging suddenly on the highway.
A motorist can anticipate what might happen before it does, and that's one of the most important factors in defensive driving.
"You have to be a defensive driver. Always look ahead," Barndt said. "Try to keep your eyes on the road as much as possible and try not to be preoccupied."