One of the reasons I started this blog was that I had a fair number of mishaps and screw-ups that are fairly amusing/instructive, but which I may not want to admit to publicly. Based on these experiences, I can give two pieces of advice for driving in the field:
1. Always wear your seatbelt
2. Don't park on railroad tracks.
#2 sounds pretty frickin' obvious, but I had spaced out or something and didn't notice (I wasn't in the vehicle when it was parked). The train tracks my partner had parked on looked unused and rusty, and in fact a local had parked on the tracks nearby earlier that week. Well, apparently, these tracks were used by the local "scenery old-timey" train. I heard a looong whistle blast and found that the train was bearing down on the car. My partner ran into the car and started the engine while this train got closer and closer. She did manage to get it out of the way, but the whole time I was yelling "just leave it!". That was possibly the biggest "oh shit" moment in my career.
#1 goes with my earlier post about off-roading. I wasn't wearing my seatbelt once because all we had to do was drive from one location to another about 100 yards away over an open field. I just hopped in with a pile of paperwork. My hopeless-at-practical-stuff helper started driving but then he hit a rut. Not just any rut, but a huge gash where a drill rig had gotten stuck months earlier. So this guy slams on the brakes just as we hit the rise on the rut, launching me through the air. I managed to grab the dashboard on my way past it, slowing myself down so that I didn't actually break through the windshield. He was going less than 10 mph.
So when you're out in the field, buckle up! And take the 10 seconds to actually look at what you're doing/about to do to avoid stupid mistakes.