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Realistic resolutions for the road

How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? Just great, I bet. Especially the one about getting up two hours earlier every workday to work on your abs and then make a day’s supply of organic seaweed smoothies.

I think the difficulty in sticking to resolutions is that they are often not realistic. Back off I bit, I say, and you’ll find greater commitment.

In that vein, I’d like to make some amendments to a list of ten resolutions that Ford sent out on how to drive smarter and safer in 2011.

1) Click it. Always buckle that safety belt — no exceptions. No exceptions? Really? How about when you’re teaching your Golden Retriever to drive? How are you going to get that belt to stay on him?

2) Keep your eyes on the road — not on your cellphone. Avoid unnecessary distractions. Sound advice, as long as “unnecessary” doesn't rule out air drumming or to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, or Phil Collins’ Something in the Air Tonight.

3) Read a good book — like your owner’s manual. The complete manual? Really? I routinely don’t finish books I actually enjoy reading.

4) Scrape ice completely off your windshield. Yes. Great idea. But what if you don't have an ice scraper? In that case, if you can scrape a 10-inch “window” with your fingernails, before they freeze up, you are definitely “good to go.”

5) Find out how technology is working to keep you safer. Here, Ford is talking about understanding how ABS feels, and how one should keep steering when it is engaged (because you can), to steer around whatever you need to steer around. Let’s keep this resolution as is — no amendment.

6) Learn how to parallel park — or buy a car that does it for you. Ford has recently introduced an optional parking system, which seems to have made them suddenly interested in your parking abilities (or lack thereof). But the other option is to go the other way and buy a really cheap, beat-up car. This will enable you to parallel park using the Braille method — make as much contact as you see fit, with the two cars bordering your potential parking space.

7) Listen to your mother — sit straight up. Proper “at the wheel” positioning is obviously better than slouching. We won’t argue with Mom, at least not publicly.

8) Check your pressures on all four tires — and the spare. The correct pressures are listed in the manual and on driver’s side-door jamb. You can ignore them in either location — just look at your tires once a week to establish they are not deflating.

9) Take a cue from the Boy Scouts — be prepared. This is about packing an emergency kit, with stuff like food, blankets, flashlight, jumper cables, etc. If heading into very bad weather, I would also throw in a horse.

10) Remember the two-second rule. Ford reminds us that the vehicle in front of you should be passing a road maker two seconds before you, to assure you’re not tailgating. Some experts even suggest going to three seconds. To avoid confusion, how about we all agree on 2.57 seconds?

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