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Road Sage

My seven resolutions for the road Add to ...

Maybe it’s the extra pounds accumulated over the holidays, maybe it’s the newness of it all, but there’s something about a fresh calendar year that inspires optimism and, dare I say it, resolve. Old habits seem vulnerable to change. Hope begins to spring, if not eternal, at least intermittently. Anything is possible. Fitness will be acquired. Novels will be finished. Psychic wholeness achieved.

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Driving will be improved.

It’s with this wish in mind that I publish my 2014 Resolutions for the Road. I do this so that those who have been made party to my vows can hold me to them. I’ve made resolutions before – among them, “I will no longer scream and yell” and, “I will take up horseback riding.” Needless to say, these have not come to pass.

This year will be different.

My willpower and resolve are beyond reproach – 2014 will be the year I go from zero-to-60 in seven resolutions.

1. Cleanliness: Just because I drive a minivan doesn’t mean I have to drive a rolling garbage scow. I will vacuum, preen and pimp my ride and keep its interior so spotless that onlookers will think it’s a hip new minivan-themed restaurant called “Caravan.”

2. I will drive a convertible on my birthday: The only time I ever fibbed to my son was when he asked me, “Daddy, do you remember your favourite dream?” I said no. Why? Because I didn’t feel comfortable saying, “Yes, I do son. I had my favourite dream in 1997 and it involved driving around Los Angeles in a convertible with a woman wearing a light blue bikini.” So this year I will rent a convertible on my birthday and drive it along the Niagara Parkway. It’s likely that everyone in the car will be clothed.

3. Take driving lessons: I consider myself an average driver. To me, that’s my greatest strength – my self-awareness. I know my limits. After all, what are the three words that always precede any accident? “Yes I can!” I’ve avoided bettering myself as a motorist because I’ve been afraid I’d lose my edge and begin to consider myself good. Still, it’s time to put aside such negativity and update my skills.

4. I will lock my iPhone in the trunk: Like many commuters, I use my mobile device to listen to podcasts. That’s how I keep sane. Yet when I’m stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic jams, the temptation to check e-mail or Twitter is enormous. An electronic message seems like the only cure for my boredom. It’s getting harder to fight. So into the trunk it goes.

5. No more drive-thrus: I use these because I can’t bear to be in a fast-food restaurant. I’m depressed because I’m there. I’m depressed because people have to work there. I’m depressed by the fact they exist at all. Still, I want a No. 4 combo – so I go to the drive-thru, purchase my artery-clogging food after dealing with the unintelligible disembodied voice and then eat while driving (dangerous) or in the parking lot (socially phobic). No more! From now on, if I don’t have time (or the moral courage) to sit down and eat, I’ll do without.

6. Get over “the wave”: When I let another driver merge in front of me, especially when I’m helping them get themselves out of some ill-conceived manoeuvre, I don’t expect much, but I do expect them to give me a friendly wave. Even a quick flick of the wrist will do. When this doesn’t happen, I am filled with the desire to ram my car into theirs. In 2014, I’m going to dial back expectations on this one.

7. Horseback riding.

So keep an eye out for me and make sure I stick to them. What is a new year for if not refracting past regrets through the illusion of future accomplishments? And so I say to you all: Happy New Year! This time it will be different.

If you have questions about driving or car maintenance, please contact our experts at globedrive@globeandmail.com.

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