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Driving at Night


Recently I have been going into work very early for some tug work. Most of the time I run the freeways across Los Angeles, like so many others, in the periphery of rush hour. You know, 10,000 of my good friends all out for a drive.

I can attest that at 2 a.m. the big freeways are not empty, but are decidedly spacious. The hazard is that in the wee hours drowsiness is as present as ever. Don't you dare turn on the heater. Keep your eyes moving.

For years I drove country roads late at night before and after shifts. I learned a few things:

  1. Keep the windows open. Unless it is snowing. Don't get comfortable.

  2. Late night radio is meant to be turned up loud. The songs may suck and your voice do them no favors, but who's gonna know?

  3. Munch on popcorn or chips. The noise of your chewing keep you awake.

  4. Keep your head on a swivel. Watch the roadside for lost wallets or coyotes. Gaze at the moon. Look in the mirror. The time will go faster if you're busy checking out the scenery you've seen a thousand times.

  5. Recognize that at night a higher percentage of cars on the road are police. I used to estimate 5% in the Bay Area. Chances are you'll get pulled over eventually, at a sobriety checkpoint or lonely bit of road. It's cool. The officers are working late too and I find quickly recognize fellow late night workers. Wish them a safe shift.

  6. Take a break. If you recognize a head bob, pull over. Do some exercises and get your blood moving. The few minutes stop may save you.

  7. If you are listening to the radio compile a playlist. If you were DJ and playing for the late night drivers, what would you play? I have such a loose list in my head, which is probably the best place for it. The 70's never really went away, man. Trust me.

  8. Last, the phone. If you know a fellow traveler, call them. Put it on the speaker and get into a discussion of politics, religion or sports teams. Anything you can argue about. You might make a better friend, or lost one. As long as you make it there alive.



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