Like many of us, Indy 500 drivers will cover some serious miles — 500 to be exact — Memorial Day weekend.
Believe it or not, we can learn plenty about safety from drivers who’ll reach speeds of more than 200 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS). Here are just a few practices the field of 33 drivers will employ that can keep those hitting the highway for vacation safe as well:
• Buckle up. True, a minivan probably isn’t equipped with a five-point racing safety harness (unless it’s the coolest minivan ever), but we’re positive it has a seat belt. Use it.
• Use your mirrors. While it’s unlikely that we’ll see Helio Castroneves look over his shoulder before changing lanes, you can bet he’s checking side mirrors constantly. Indy car or road car, they all have blind spots, so checking those mirrors often is important at any speed.
• Leave space. Indy drivers realize the importance of giving their fellow drivers a little space —though some are better at it than others. All drivers appreciate the courtesy of room to maneuver. Share some space, especially in high-traffic or construction zones.
• Slow down for emergency vehicles. When emergency vehicles are on the track at IMS, the yellow flag comes out and all drivers give safety personnel a brake. They’ll also give them that extra space we talked about above. On the highway, we need to do the same. Slow down and move over to the side of the road for emergency vehicles.
• Stay cool. Overly aggressive driving on track will get a driver (we’re talking to you, Paul Tracy) black-flagged or into even bigger trouble. On the highway, it’s just as dangerous. Stay cool and arrive at your vacation finish line stress free.
• Obey speed limits. No speed limits for Indy drivers? Think again. The speed limit on pit road at IMS is 60 mph (actually 55 with a 5 mph cushion). If the guys and gals going 200+ mph can obey a speed limit, we can, too.
For additional driving safety tips and other information, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.gov.