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Ekona

The Safe Driving Thread *Updated 2016*

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There’s no big over-riding purpose to this post, nor is it meant to be a patronising talk down to anyone here. What it is meant to be is just a few things that’s worth bearing in mind not only as we come into the summer season for fun drives and shows, but also for general driving throughout the year. I’m sure we all still remember Ian Lewkowicz who sadly passed away in 2010 in a car accident, and it just showed that accidents can happen to any of us and that life can be too short, and sometimes it takes something awful to remind us of that.

 

It would be great if people could contribute to this thread, with other various tips or observations, but we’re going to be very strict on any huge arguments being thrown around: Discussion is fine, but anything that looks like it’s going to get heated will either be summarily deleted or simply split and a new thread created. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that neither this forum nor any of the team in anyway condone speeding or the breaking of any laws whilst driving; That said, I will write this post with a real-world point of view, with the caveat that you as a driver are the one responsible for your own actions.

 

 

 

YOU

 

I think it’s fair to say that we all drive sporty cars because it’s fun to go fast, and I doubt you’ll find anyone here disputing that in any way! Whether it’s in a straight line or round corners, that same thrill is ever-present in each and every one of us, and yet sometimes we all get carried away without really being aware of all the situations around us. As a trackday regular myself I’m acutely aware that I’ve got two very different mindsets when driving cars, one for the road and one for the track, and I know I’m a very different person depending on that mindset. On the road I’m fairly relaxed, I don’t really feel the need to push on too much and I’m happy cruising right on the limit (which I know drives some people nuts when I’m in convoy) and having a chat with a passenger. Put me on the track and I become almost mute: I’ll say very little, and will barely respond if the passenger tries to talk. My full concentration is taken up with every little bit of feedback I get from the car and responding to that feedback, as well as being incredibly aware of my surroundings.

 

What I’m trying to get at here is that if you’re going to drive quickly, whether it’s on a motorway or country lane, is that you should be focusing on your car and your inputs rather than any distractions. Cruising around with the bass kicking is great when you are just cruising, but really loud music when pushing on is going to distract you to some extent. Same applies if you’ve got a chatty passenger, and there’s no harm in asking them to keep it down for the next 10 mins if you hit a twisty bit of road, and indeed they’ll probably appreciate your extra concentration. Needless to say, try that with your partner at your own risk ;)

 

The (very) old saying goes that you should always be able to stop in the distance you can see. We've all heard it a million times, and when on open roads we all do it without thinking, and we also probably do it on roads we don't know for the most part. The trouble comes when you're on a very familiar road that you know like the back of your hand, and when you're really on it. You know that the blind corner in front of you can be taken at 55mph in the dry, so you do, and then you end up flying into the back of someone who dared to brake down in the middle of the bend. It happens, and familiarity breeds contempt sadly. Take a second to ask yourself if you could stop safely if you came round a corner and found a bus parked there, and it'll give you a much better idea of what's safe or not. If the road opens out nicely and your vision is good, then there shouldn't be any problems really.

 

 

THE ROAD

 

Road conditions are incredibly changeable in the summer as well, maybe more so than in the winter. You can have three weeks of baking hot sunshine, then you get a sudden downpour and the roads become like sheet ice as all the oils that have sunk down below the asphalt get carried to the surface (the road 'sweats'), and before you know it you’re facing backwards wondering what the hell happened. Keep an eye on the weather and the conditions of the past few days, and just be aware that conditions can change very suddenly. Driving through the winter is an increasing hazard as the conditions get worse and worse towards the end of the year, and sometimes we all forget on that very first day of gorgeous sunshine after the snow that the temperature is still below freezing outside.

 

Look at the surface of the road as well: If it's recently been resurfaced then it's probably going to be very slippery, especially when wet, and a road full of stone chippings, leaves or mud can also have changeable grip levels. There's one particular corner near me that is practically made for fun cars, perfectly on camber and really well sighted, yet as there's an entry point to a field just before it's inevitably got a coating of mud on it that could throw you off and into said field. Such a waste of a corner, but I know it'd be a bigger waste if I suddenly ended upside down in it.

 

 

YOUR CAR

 

How many of us check our tyre pressures weekly? And the spare? And coolant levels? And brake fluid? And washer fluid? And even the most obvious, oil levels? None of us are perfect, and I’m probably as bad as most of you if I’m totally honest, but again it’s the little things that whilst probably don’t need a weekly check if all you’re doing is driving back and forth up the motorway, but they really should be looked after if you’re going for a blat or if your driving style is somewhat aggressive all the time. I’m quite partial to the odd 6am countryside blast in the summer as the roads are empty, and at that time of day it doesn’t take 5mins to do a really quick check of the car before setting off. If you know your rear tyres are getting a bit low, then just be aware of it, especially if conditions are changeable. Have your brakes started making the odd squealing noise? If so, is it really a good idea to go ragging the arse off the car before getting the pads checked over? This is all really obvious stuff, I know, and I feel a bit stupid writing it, but like I said I’m not perfect either so if nothing else I’m considering this to a be a self-help article as much as anything.

 

Tyres. As much as I’m sure everyone expects me to, I’m actually not going to bang on about this too much as there’s nothing really more I can add to what’s already out there, but please do be aware of what rubber your running on, be it £1K worth of Michelin, £200 worth of Nankang, or anywhere in-between. Take time to get used to the rubber on your wheels, especially if you’ve just changed brands or if they’re new anyway. If you are running mixed rubber then be extra aware of this, and also taking into account the road conditions. As long as you’ve got a good 3mm of tread left all around then that’s the main thing.

 

 

OTHER PEOPLE

 

Everyone around you is an idiot. My Mum told me that when I first started driving many years ago, and it’s still true today. You may be perfectly comfortable in your own driving, and you may have done your checks and be in the ‘fast road’ mindset already, but that doesn’t mean that Dippy Dora, aged 97 and just gotten out of bed having forgotten her brain pills and jumped straight into her 20 year old rust bucket to pop to the local shops, is as aware of the roads as you. You see her, you go to overtake giving her plenty of room, and suddenly she decides she wants to turn right. Bang. Whoops. Insurance time. There’s absolutely nothing you could do in that situation, and sadly that’s life, but it’s just an example of how you can’t take anyone for granted. This equally applies to driving with a group of fellow Zed owners. You may know the roads really well but they may not, or they may be new to the car, or they might have an issue with their car you don’t know about, or a million and one other things. Don’t assume that they’re just as capable and aware as you are just because they drive the same car, else you could end up with a very painful incident involving two Zeds, whether that’s a physical pain or a monetary one. On the other side of things, don't assume that just because the car in front of you took that corner at 50mph that you can too, as they may have much better suspension/tyres/talent than you've got, so always judge each part of a road on your own car & ability.

 

Speaking of driving in groups, you need to be extra aware of how your driving looks to others. I point you in the direction of 10PS’s thread over on PH:

 

Clicky for a long but sobering read

 

*EDIT: Sadly 10PS has removed his text from that thread and left PH. I'm sure it can be found elsewhere on the internet, and is well worth looking for.*

 

I guess that sums it up as good as anything possibly can, and there’s not really much more I can add. You may think you’re all driving safely, and in all fairness you probably are, but all the public see are a bunch of loud sportscars driving much faster than they would and therefore you must all be crazy idiots breaking the speed limit. It doesn’t take a second to pause and think about how your driving looks to others, so take that second and take stock. What may be a perfectly safe overtake can quickly become “some yob flying past on a blind bend whilst giving me the finger and then cutting me upâ€. Don’t drive aggressively, give people plenty of room, and if you are going to overtake (and I wish more people would!) then hang back and give yourself a good view of the road. Sitting on someone’s backside for a mile because they’re only doing 40 in a 60 isn’t going to make them want to give you room, and neither is it making for a quick & safe overtake.

 

 

IMPROVEMENT

 

I think something that is really worth pushing and enforcing here is driver training, whether it’s road or track based. Road training will not necessarily make you a quicker driver, but things like the IAM courses will make you vastly more aware of your roadcraft and just how to keep an eye out for hazards. Track training will give you a better feel for how your car handles at the limits, how to find those limits and then how to recover when you pass them. Personally I’ve never done the road training so it would be great to hear from those people that have, and also from those who have had proper driver tuition when on track: I know that I’m twice the driver now than before I did a couple of Walshy days at North Weald. Being able to experiment and play with a car in open spaces in relative safety is a godsend, however do remember that however tempting empty car parks might be, they’re still public areas and you can still be charged with dangerous driving if a police officer catches you trying to catch a drift.

 

One piece of literature that really is worth reading is Roadcraft - The Police Drivers Handbook (clicky to buy). Sure it sounds like something you'd probably fall asleep to, and some of it really is teaching you to suck eggs, but you'll also find more than a few things in there will take you by surprise and really make you evaluate your driving and the standards you keep.

 

 

 

 

I hope that this hasn’t been too much like a bad lecture, and that it has provoked a few genuine moments of “Hmm, never thought about that…†amongst you. To be perfectly honest, if it’s irritated a thousand of you but caused one person to change their habits then it’s been worth it from my perspective. You’re driving a 1.5ton hunk of metal, plastic and glass, and at 70mph+ it’s going cause a lot of damage if you get it wrong. No-one’s trying to stop anyone having fun and enjoying their cars, and there’s a lot to be said for the satisfaction you get when hitting the apex of a perfect corner at 9/10ths, but it’ll only take one bad moment to take another Zed driver from this world, and no-one wants that either.

 

Please be safe out there folks. :)

Edited by Ekona
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Fantastic post - read 3 pages of the Prison Diary and that's VERY sobering reading. I'm away for a long drive this afternoon and I must admit this has really hit home. I can relate to a certain extent as in my younger days I was involved in a collision that was 100% my fault - luckily the Procurator Fiscal realised I wasn't a total idiot and gave me 11 points. Since that day I've never had anything resembling an accident - I guess some of us need to learn the hard way.

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Been reading through the Prison Diary, very interesting so far!

 

The one thing that my dad told me when I'd passed my test, everyone on the road is a moron. And by god I've not been driving long but the amount of people that are just complete idiots and shouldn't be on the roads is unbelievable!

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Some good ideas there. :thumbs:

 

If it's okay, I'd recommend RideDrive courses. I've completed two half day courses and am way more competent and safer on the road. They can/will tailor the course to your precise requirement/ability - easily the best upgrade I've bought for my 'performance' cars.

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By coincidence on Wednesday this week I did a whole day Ride Drive course, including an hour or so at Longcross near Chobham in Surrey.

 

Not only did my 'instructor' (it's far from a driving lesson) point out several areas for improvement but he also (fortunately!) reinforced what I'd already learnt doing the IAM bike test rather too many years ago.

 

The track time was very very useful - not only were parts very familiar from TV and film (from The Professionals to Wheeler Dealers) but you have the place to yourself to see what the Zed can and can't do without (much) fear of hitting anything. And of course there's no speed limit... and there are also the usual skidmarks heading to holes in the undergrowth. Without really going for it I saw 125 on the main straight before braking for the large bump before the first almost Karussel like bend.

 

It showed me just how effective todays electronics are at keeping everything under control - from understeer to oversteer - and just how crap I am at drifting!

 

No photos as it's a film studio - we were asked if we had cameras the second we arrived at track control as there were some VERY interesting 'bikes' parked up about 100 yards away...

 

After 6 hours and 200 miles of every type of road I was mentally knackered, but I'd thoroughly recommend a session to anyone who enjoys driving.

 

Tim

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Simple solution - get your Mrs to buy the car..........you'll be too scared to drive like a div because you'll lose vital reproductive organs if you bin the car!

 

Personally I've well and truly got no confidence in my own driving ability so I take it quite careful on anything but a straight road.........hence why I don't really have a problem with the Maxxis ditchfinders - they never get pushed far enough to cause me any problems.

 

Good thread though Dan :thumbs:

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Good points well made. After 10 years with a licence I passed the IAM test a couple of years back and now observe for the Aberdeen group.

 

Although this years 'intake' has passed I would be more than happy show anyone in the area what's involved if they're interested. Yes there's pull/push steering, parallel parking and hands at 10 and 2 required for test standard but the core skills of observation, anticipation and the system will improve fast road driving no ends :drive1:teeth:

 

Cheers

Steve

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Good points well made. After 10 years with a licence I passed the IAM test a couple of years back and now observe for the Aberdeen group.

 

Although this years 'intake' has passed I would be more than happy show anyone in the area what's involved if they're interested. Yes there's pull/push steering, parallel parking and hands at 10 and 2 required for test standard but the core skills of observation, anticipation and the system will improve fast road driving no ends :drive1:teeth:

 

Cheers

Steve

 

the IAM is on my list of things i'd like to do. might ask for it for my 30th birthday pressie

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Hi all. This is my first post. :)

 

This thread is particularly interesting and relevant to me. I am 42 and in the slightly unusual situation that a 370Z is my first car after only passing my test last December. In fact, I learnt to drive because my partner and I decided to get a good car.

 

Although I’m old enough to know better and a pretty down to earth person, I constantly have to resist the urge to do the “it’s a fast car so I should drive it fast†thing. My girlfriend is a great influence because she has been driving for years and although she loves the Z, she doesn’t ever feel the need to drive it like an idiot just because it’s a fast car.

 

I don’t feel qualified to give anyone tips about driving, but as someone whose made the usual new driver mistakes at the start – the occasional stall at junctions etc - the one general piece of advice to promote safety I’d give is to be patient with other drivers. There’s nothing worse than having your fledgling confidence knocked by someone who decides that you haven’t pulled away fast enough as the lights turn green and slams their horn on. If you make people nervous by being impatient with them, you knock their confidence and increase the chance of them doing something wrong.

 

And I couldn’t agree more about the importance of being aware of other drivers capacity for getting it wrong, not just your own. Only yesterday we were driving to our local vets with one of our pets and some idiot in a white van ran a red light and pulled right out in front of us. It was only because I was taking it easy and keeping my eyes open that we didn’t have a nasty accident.

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There’s nothing worse than having your fledgling confidence knocked by someone who decides that you haven’t pulled away fast enough as the lights turn green and slams their horn on. If you make people nervous by being impatient with them, you knock their confidence and increase the chance of them doing something wrong.

 

And I couldn’t agree more about the importance of being aware of other drivers capacity for getting it wrong, not just your own. Only yesterday we were driving to our local vets with one of our pets and some idiot in a white van ran a red light and pulled right out in front of us. It was only because I was taking it easy and keeping my eyes open that we didn’t have a nasty accident.

"Oi pot! You're black", said the kettle. :p

 

Welcome.

 

Some valid points there, but calling/thinking of fellow drivers as idiots is similar to the original complaint. I'm no angel but I do at least try to count to ten and smile when mistakes are made. Sometimes easier said than done so I can see where you're coming from though. ;)

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There’s nothing worse than having your fledgling confidence knocked by someone who decides that you haven’t pulled away fast enough as the lights turn green and slams their horn on. If you make people nervous by being impatient with them, you knock their confidence and increase the chance of them doing something wrong.

 

And I couldn’t agree more about the importance of being aware of other drivers capacity for getting it wrong, not just your own. Only yesterday we were driving to our local vets with one of our pets and some idiot in a white van ran a red light and pulled right out in front of us. It was only because I was taking it easy and keeping my eyes open that we didn’t have a nasty accident.

"Oi pot! You're black", said the kettle. :p

 

Welcome.

 

Some valid points there, but calling/thinking of fellow drivers as idiots is similar to the original complaint. I'm no angel but I do at least try to count to ten and smile when mistakes are made. Sometimes easier said than done so I can see where you're coming from though. ;)

 

Thanks for the welcome. I take you point. The reason I said these particular guys were idiots was more to do with their reaction after they pulled in front of us - a wave or gesture of apology would have been nice but all I got was a sort of gurning laugh :lol: .

 

I kind of got the impression that running the red the light wasn't a mistake if you know what I mean.

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Great thread guys :thumbs: Pretty sure we've all seen some really bad situations.

 

One of the worst round our way seems to be people too lazy to park in an official parking space at the village high street shops when going to the chip shop (great chippy though). Said chippy is right on the corner of the high street with double yellows outside and meets with a tee junction(priority from round the side of the chippy). A lot of people insist on parking on the double yellows - even when all of the parking spaces are empty, creating very poor visibility when coming round the corner. Being a through road to the next village this is also a bus route, if you're coming round the corner, you have to crawl round parked car/van/delivery truck to find yourself partly on the wrong side of the road with traffic coming at you full steam ahead :wacko::rant: Local council seems uninterested to make better parking arrangments or enforce better awareness of other road users, the local constabulary though do tend to issue a LOT of tickets.

Rant over.

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To echo the above, anyone that hasnt read Roadcraft ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roadcraft-drive ... 877&sr=1-1 ) most definately should have a copy. Even if you dont buy into IAM training or the like, it is an excellent read and makes you realise quite a few things you may not have thought of. Overall it should also make you a quicker driver (note - not faster!) point to point, whilst also progressing safely.

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just like to add that I have found a half day skid pan course very useful and has got me out of a few scrapes before now.

 

DC

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Whereabouts and who ran it? Recommendations are very much welcome on this thread :)

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I've done a few of the IAM's Road Driver Training Skills days - at various race tracks. You get 1-to-1 in-car coaching from either an Emergency Services CAT 1 Driver or a Racing Driver. Really well organised, plenty of space and time on the track, and no 'Looney Tunes' so you know you'll be driving your Z home in one piece.

 

The last one I did earlier this year was at Silverstone, Stowe Circuit, and they got instructors over from the Porsche Experience to coach us. With this quality of coaching you really explore the limits of both your car and yourself in a safe environment. Not a "cheap" day, and the Bridgestones are punished, but good value for money when you consider the amount of track time and top class 1-to-1 coaching you get. I learned so much, and it's really increased my enjoyment of the Z.

 

As the other guys have said, Road Craft is a really good read, or DVD. I did the course and was lucky to have a fantastic observer who was a real Petrol Head, brilliant driver and coach. Like all large organisations it's very dependent on the individuals in your local group, but certainly worth having a look. :thumbs:

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Cracking post and worth the time to both read I agree with all said, can I add with...

 

Being that you can only controll what you drive, then half the battle of not being involved in an accident is staying on your own side of the road when cornering.

 

It would surprise you the nuimber of accidents caused by people crosing the white line on right handers.

 

I know people just do this to go quicker through a bend but half the time they are just entering the bend too early anyways and the exit closes on them, why not have fun seting up for the bend and still going round just as quick but safer...

 

On the mindset thing, I always find that after a sesion on track I drive home like I'm in a Micra, feels like that anyway...

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Cracking post and worth the time to both read I agree with all said, can I add with...

 

Being that you can only controll what you drive, then half the battle of not being involved in an accident is staying on your own side of the road when cornering.

 

It would surprise you the nuimber of accidents caused by people crosing the white line on right handers.

 

I know people just do this to go quicker through a bend but half the time they are just entering the bend too early anyways and the exit closes on them, why not have fun seting up for the bend and still going round just as quick but safer...

 

On the mindset thing, I always find that after a sesion on track I drive home like I'm in a Micra, feels like that anyway...

Especially as typically you get the best line-of-sight by being as far to the left as possible. ;)

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Great thread. Think we need to stop and re-evaluate our attitude and driving styles to keep fresh and safe.

 

I can wholeheartedly recommend the IAM. Think it is something all of us should consider driving the cars we do. I had a years worth of instruction every Sunday from an ex-police driver and it was utterly invaluable.

 

To put my bit of advice in, that has help me loads over the years is this in cars and on motorbikes. Again not a teaching suck eggs type of thing please.

 

As you drive constantly keep in your mind "What if....". It is SO important.

 

"What if dizzy Dora does pull out at that junction? What will you do?

 

It's a BMW likely to pull out with no warning? Could do. Parked cars by the local shop. People nip in for fags in a rush and pull out without fully concentrating. Car approaching a lorry on motorway? What if it pulls out without checking? What will you do?

 

Don't drive scared just drive fully aware.

 

Bradders.

 

 

 

The clues are all there, so look for them. Look at wheels turning. Look them in the eyes. Do you see them seeing you. Dirt covering a country road? Tractor up ahead?

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Couple of little things I wanted to add to this after someone mentioned them to me in passing the other day with regards to driving...

 

 

When overtaking, never pull back in until you can see the car in your rear view mirror. Now I'm pretty good at leaving space anyway but for the last week I've been using this technique on the motorways instead, and I have to say that it's utterly fool proof. Once you can see the car is behind you, the gap you leave when pulling back in is perfect and almost 100% prevents any coming together of the two vehicles.

 

Looking as far down the road as you can. This is my personal biggest flaw as a driver as I tend to look only a short distance past the bonnet which can mean for a staccato drive at times, but if you force yourself to look as far down the road as you can see you'll find that your vision will automatically pick up what's happening immediately around you, and you'll naturally start to leave that crucial 2-second gap which allows for your planning time to increase. It feels horrible at first, but the more I do it the more benefit I'm getting from it and hopefully it'll come more naturally with time.

 

 

Just thought I'd share. :)

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Looking as far down the road as you can. This is my personal biggest flaw as a driver as I tend to look only a short distance past the bonnet which can mean for a staccato drive at times, but if you force yourself to look as far down the road as you can see you'll find that your vision will automatically pick up what's happening immediately around you, and you'll naturally start to leave that crucial 2-second gap which allows for your planning time to increase. It feels horrible at first, but the more I do it the more benefit I'm getting from it and hopefully it'll come more naturally with time.

This is part of driving to the vanishing point (convergence point, or limit point) and only driving as far as you can see. This will mean you can always stop before something happens.

 

Also watching the vanishing point on corners. If it appears to come towards you, the corner is tightening up, if it is moving away from you it is opening up. You can use this to judge if you should be applying maintainance throttle (neither increasing or decreasing throttle) or to apply more throttle out of the bend.

 

All in roadcraft ;)

 

I'm pretty sure that I read or was told that your peripheral vision is also better at spotting stuff close proximity. So by looking further down the road and scanning, you focus on whats ahead and leave peripheral vision to spot anything close that needs reacting too.

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I was worried about stepping into my first RWD.... So when I got the Zed I enrolled and passed my IAM.

 

Can't recommend it enough. I even got into the F1rst club! B)

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peripheral vision

That's the phrase I was looking for earlier! I googled for it and everything but couldn't remember what the correct term was, so chickened out with just 'vision' :blush::lol:

 

I already do the kerb-looking in corners to watch for the road tightening or unwinding (helps on track something chronic), it's the longer vision on normal roads that I suck at. Still, I'd rather admit that I'm not perfect and learn than assume I'm awesome and carry on regardless I guess.

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