The first three things Irv Gordon did 47 years ago after purchasing a shiny red 1966 Volvo P1800 were to adjust his seat, check the mirrors and buckle up. After driving the same car more than 2.99 million miles, the Long Island native still abides by these rules.
Gordon has gained worldwide attention by becoming the first person to drive almost three million miles in the same car. In September, Gordon plans to turn three million miles in Alaska, one of two U.S. states he has never visited and a fitting backdrop for this historic moment.
Reaching this unprecedented milestone is due in part to Gordon's safe driving habits - driving with patience and awareness, and scheduling regular tune-ups at his long-time Volvo dealership. Gordon offers these additional safe-driving tips to fellow drivers:
Buckle Up. "It's the most important thing you and your family will do on a roadway. Plus, it was a Volvo employee named Nils Bohlin who created the 3-point safety belt, which has been credited with saving tens of thousands of lives so I'm a bit partial."
Batteries not included. "Make a rule that nothing requiring a battery charge reside in the front of the car. Cell phones, MP3 players, DVD players, etc. They are all potential distractions. Put them in the back or even in the trunk," Gordon said. "In fact, make a rule that everyone put their gadgets away. Road trips are wonderful times to reconnect with family members and enjoy the beautiful views this nation offers."
Expect other drivers will make mistakes. "Be observant of your fellow drivers. Don't assume a car pulling up to a stop sign will stop until you see it stop. Allow five to six seconds of time between you and the car in front of you. If a car is tailgating you, try to let that car pass."
During long road trips, take frequent breaks."This is not NASCAR; it's okay to take long breaks to stretch your legs, breathe fresh air and review your maps. It keeps you more alert on the road," Gordon says.
Spend a few minutes each week inspecting your car. "Even the most mechanically challenged car owners can look for low fluid levels or deteriorating belts and hoses. Also look to see that the battery connections are tight and corrosion free. These are the most common sources of trouble on the road. And, walk around your car to ensure the blinkers, brake lights, etc., are in proper working condition."
Adjust the mirrors. "Rearview mirrors aren't 'vanity mirrors' designed for admiring your hair or applying lipstick. Automotive engineers spent countless hours designing your car so that these mirrors would reduce blind spots when driving. Do the engineers a favor, and adjust your mirrors accordingly."
Ensure proper tire inflation. "There is a reason all service stations have air pumps and every mechanic has a tire gauge in his or her shirt pocket. Having your tires properly inflated is as important as having oil in your engine."
Don't drive if you can't stand the conditions. "Is it too late in the night? Too rainy? Too snowy? Too hot? Too cold? When you're driving, it's not the time to be daring. If you haven't gotten enough sleep, if the roads are too wet, or if anything else will inhibit your ability to drive safely, pull over at a rest stop or stay the night at a hotel. Maybe they'll have a swimming pool and a complimentary breakfast."
When your car makes a funny noise, listen to it. "Don't turn up the radio and hope that knocking noise goes away. It won't. If your car develops a condition, take it in immediately. The longer you wait, the greater potential for danger."
Weatherize your car year-round. "Prepare for the climate you'll be visiting and the season that is approaching, not just the one that's going on now. Have a qualified mechanic check your tire inflation, treads, brake wear, fluids, etc., and let him or her know the type of weather in which you could be driving. "