Think you drive a lot? Imagine spending three, four, even seven or more hours a day behind the wheel.
A day in the life of a road warrior is filled with tailgaters, cut-off artists, rage-filled fellow drivers and speed demons bearing down in their rearview mirrors.
To stay safe and keep their car insurance rates low, these pros have figured out ways avoid tickets and crashes.
Not only is tailgating annoying, it's dangerous.
"Tailgating is a form of aggressive driving and a major contributor to crashes," says Jim Peterson, a driving instructor in Chicago.
Not to mention that it's hard to see anything when your rearview mirror is filled with the grill of the car behind you.
Liz Egan, a 20-year veteran gift-basket delivery driver in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla,, travels as many as 160 miles a day and says she typically drives "fairly fast within the 'implied' speed limit and keeps up with the flow of traffic."
To discourage a driver who "rides her butt," Egan simply slows down. "I just take my foot off the accelerator and allow the vehicle to slow down until the tailgater gets impatient and goes around me."
Reduce road rage
Adrian Miller, a sales trainer and consultant, and self-proclaimed road warrior for 24 years in the Albany, N.Y., area who logs more than 500 miles a week, says harmonious melodies keep her from getting worked up behind the wheel.
"Fantastic music helps me manage road rage," she says. Miller has an "on the road" playlist on her iPod and never gets behind the wheel without great CDs that make her feel happy.
Rick Notter, author of "Sound Advice: Music's Effect on Life, Health, and Happiness," suggests choosing music that's no more than 145 beats per minute.
"Anything faster may have the reverse affect. Fast music could ramp up your emotions and be extremely exciting, which could lead to you falling victim to rage," he says.
After a long day of work or refereeing the kid's shouting matches, it's easy to get distracted. To make sure he's not tempted to drift off while driving, Jay Moyes, a night driver for Access Paratransit, a company that transports disabled riders across southern California for doctor visits, shopping and other activities, never looks at one thing for too long.
"I keep my eyes moving. Instead of looking at one thing for even a few seconds, I continually scan the road, my mirrors, etc."
Peterson says scanning is the best way to avoid a crash.
"Looking around at your surroundings and in all of your mirrors helps you see a deer on the side of the road, a car that might turn in front of you and even a cop tucked under an overpass waiting to give you a speeding ticket," Peterson says.
Mind over matter
If you can make it through a day without crashing in New York City, you can make it anywhere. Solomon Diallo, a Big Apple cabbie, starts his day with a clear mind.
"I meditate for a few minutes before I get into the vehicle. I like to get into a mindful state so I can prepare for whatever may be on the road."
Diallo says that meditation helps him brush off rude road hogs and pushy pedi-cabs -- and a few cheap fares, too.
"I'm not upset or very stressed before I even get on the road. That helps me ignore or brush off a lot of things."
Let off the gas
"I always use cruise control," says Ron Sage, a salesman in Austin, Texas. "After getting three speeding tickets in four years I finally decided giving in and using cruise was easier than paying those fines."
Sage admits his still speeds, just a little. "I set my cruise control for five to seven miles over the speed limit and sail on my merry way."
Chewing gum for sanity
Chewing gum keeps cross-country truckers alert and awake.
"I have peppermint gum tucked in just about every crevice of my cab," says Russ "Rusty" Johnson, a Gainesville, Fla.-based truck driver with more than three decades of experience.
"Chewing keeps my mind going and the strong mint flavor helps me stay awake."
Scientists say Johnson's trick is a good one.
A study conducted by Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, W. Va., says drivers demonstrate decreased levels of frustration, anxiety and fatigue when exposed to peppermint or cinnamon scents. Drivers were more alert, too.
Taping a picture of his family to his car's dash helps Lance Pearson resist the urge to drive recklessly.
"It's so frustrating when the person in front of me is driving many miles under the speed limit. I just want to drive right over them," says the salesman in Orange County, Calif.
Pearson says when he's at his breaking point, which often comes in a no-passing zone, a quick glance at a picture of his wife and son turns his rage off.
"I imagine them getting a call that I've been killed because I did something stupid while driving and I immediately calm down and back off," he says.