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FAIRFAX, Va. -- With summer vacation driving about to begin and more licensed cars than licensed drivers in the United States, ExxonMobil has studied the needs, wants, attitudes and behaviors of the nation's drivers to help improve the overall driving experience. One finding: Taking periodic breaks is an important factor in making the journey safer and more enjoyable. And when drivers do stop, they expect to be able to do a lot more than just refuel their cars.
"Americans love life in the car, but they hate life on the road," said Ben Soraci, U.S. manager of ExxonMobil's company-operated On the Run convenience stores. "The car is our private space; our personal refuge where we can listen to whatever music we like, or sing as loud as we want. But life on the move is frustrating due to traffic congestion, anticipating bad drivers making sudden moves and dealing with whatever weather Mother Nature has in store."
To help provide a small oasis from the crowded highways, On the Run's design engineers have gone as far as designing each store's layout with drivers' needs in mind, to make it as easy as possible to find what they want, in a friendly atmosphere.
"Taking a break helps motorists sharpen their focus on driving," said Soraci. "Around a quarter of all traffic crashes are caused by distractions, which account for 1.2 million accidents. When distracted, drivers react more slowly to traffic conditions, fail more often to recognize potential hazards and decrease their margin of safety. Even seemingly innocent activities such as reaching or leaning, manipulating music or adjusting temperature controls can be significant distractions."
Soraci advised that before starting a trip, drivers should make sure they know how to get to the destination. They should have an alternate route in mind, or an atlas in the car. He suggested drivers limit each day's drive to 300 miles and switch drivers even when they don't feel tired. Rolling down the windows to increase ventilation helps drivers stay alert, as do regular breaks from driving at a place that's easily accessible from the highway. He also suggested eating light meals and drinking stimulating beverages like coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks.