‘Zen driving’ game transformed one man’s commute: Roadshow

Q: I used to commute 26 miles a day. Over the years, I built up a sizeable repertoire of commuter games, but one in particular proved to be as addictive as it was challenging, so much so that it ended up radically changing the way I drive.

I call it Zen Driving.

Adam Nye, Los Altos

A. Zen Driving.Tell us more.

Q: The purpose of the game was simple: Could I do my entire commute, on-ramp to off-ramp, without ever touching the brake pedal? The strategy was obvious: Keep enough space in front of me so that if the guy I’m following hits his brakes, all I’d have to do was back off the gas. Sounds simple. It wasn’t.

Adam Nye

A: I bet.

Q: I had to constantly watch traffic as far ahead as possible to spot slowdowns early enough to avoid braking. I had to pay close attention. Avoiding hitting the brake pedal while everyone else was flying around me was richly satisfying.

My current record is 170 miles without braking.

Adam Nye

A: Impressive.

Q: It’s tailgaters who clog up the roads and make it difficult for others to maneuver. The anger that used to come from cars cutting me off has been replaced by the satisfaction of knowing I’m actually helping the flow of traffic.

Tailgating makes no sense at all. Why jealously guard a pitifully small space when the goal of commuting is to get from point A to point B, period? Zen Driving lets me commute calmly, safely, and economically. Give it a try.

On city streets the challenge is to never come to a complete stop. As always, look as far down the road as you can. If you see that the next light has turned red, even if you’re still a block away, immediately slow down.

Many times I’ve had a Richard Petty wannabe blast off as the light goes green, only to pull to a dead stop at the next light, and he’s idling there impatiently while I drift up slowly behind him, timing the light as I am to avoid both the brakes and a full stop, essentially idling the whole way.

The final Zen Driving element is steering. Most roads are designed to be as efficient as possible so most curves are laid out on a constant radius. In other words, if I pick the right line I can negotiate the entire curve without having to adjust my steering at all.

And that’s Zen Driving!

Adam Nye

A: Hmmm. What other driving games do we try?

Join Gary Richards for an hourlong chat noon Wednesday at www.mercurynews.com/live-chats. Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, or contact him at mrroadshow@bayareanewsgroup.com or 408-920-5335.

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Author: Gary Richards

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