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Motorcycle Safety Awareness – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness month. So you may have noticed the following billboard messages promoting this important safety issue.
• Look Twice for Motorcycles and Share the Road
• Look twice, Save a Life
• Four Words to Avoid “I Didn’t See Him”
• Arrive Alive
• There’s a Life Riding on It
• Look and Save a Life – Bikers Have Families Too
• Can You See Me Now?

So, what about the other 11 months of the year? Do we forget, in between? Not if we have friends and family that ride a motorcycle, we don’t. So, although speeding and zipping between cars are two of the biggest contributors to motorcycle accidents, there are some things riders have no control over. There’s no protective exterior, like a car has. 4,500 motorcyclists died in 2014. That number is staggering.
There are a few things a motorcyclist can do to protect themselves, besides constantly scanning around them and being aware of their surroundings. Wearing protective gear, such as Kevlar has proven to be a huge factor in saving lives (and skin). Kevlar is a synthetic fiber of high tensile strength used especially as a reinforcing agent in the manufacture of tires and other rubber products and protective gear such as helmets and vests. Use of a Department of Public Safety compliant protective helmet is also super important. Over 60% of riders don’t wear a helmet at all. And, a full face helmet is even better, if you want to save face.

So, look twice for motorcycles and share the road. Motorcyclists have the same rights when driving on the road, and they have families just like the rest of us.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Motorcycle Safety Awareness – Comedy Defensive Driving

CRAZY TRAFFIC – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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I was just telling someone that most of my Texas friends had moved to L.A. for their comedy careers back in the early 1990’s, but I moved to San Francisco because I don’t like traffic (plus, even living in S.F., I still got to work with Mitch Hedberg (sniff), Marc Maron, Brian Posehn, Johnny Steele, Michael Mancini, and many other amazing, accomplished comedians). And, as we all know, L.A. is notorious for their traffic jams. With few access roads in L.A., if there is an accident on any freeway, traffic will be backed up for miles. While here in Texas, traffic moves off the freeway, onto the access road and gets back onto the freeway, ahead of the wreck…brilliant! Being stuck in traffic on the way to a gig kinda brings the funny down a notch. Even in S.F., I had been late for gigs because of nutty traffic. Totally uncool.

So, this conversation made me curious as to what cities in the U.S. are currently the worst for crazy traffic. According to data compiled by INRX Driving Intelligence, these are the top 10 cities for the worst traffic in the U.s.
1. Los Angeles, CA (yep! go figure!)
2. Washington, D.C.
3. San Francisco, CA (really?? like, just paying a cover charge to enter the city isn’t bad enough)
4. Houston, TX (a miniature version of NYC)
5. New York City, NY (all cabs…no one I know who lives there owns a car)
6. Seattle, WA (I show a road rage film in my defensive driving class, shot “no pun int” in Seattle)
7. Boston, MA
8. Chicago, IL (I grew up outside of Chi-Town and not surprised it’s on the list)
9. Atlanta, Georgia
10. Honolulu, Hawaii (small islands, few road options, not surprised)

I’m living in Dallas now and surprised that we’re not on the list. Perhaps we’re number 11. Anyhow, all of this driving yourself to work and gigs nonsense will be totally obsolete in a few years now that cars are designed to drive themselves. One day in the near future, kids in my defensive driving class will have their grandkids asking them “Grandpa (because they’re mostly boys in my classes…lol), what’s Defensive Driving School?” And they’ll answer “It was just a crazy waste of time. We used to have to actually operate a motor vehicle. We had to be responsible to pay for oil and gasoline and to be sure not to kill anyone. Oh, and the petroleum came from dinosaurs. Which is ironic, since cars are now made out of plastic, a petroleum product, made from dinosaurs.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
(come catch Daun make funnies in June: Lake Buena Vista, FL and Sarasota, FL)

CRAZY TRAFFIC – Comedy Defensive Driving

Ridesharing – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Ridesharing is a brilliant idea! Not only does it encourage people to not drink and drive, it also is great for the environment and fuel conservation. I am curious as to how much money an Uber or Lyft driver actually makes. And if it is a lucrative business move to become an independent driver. Of course, being a single mom, I have more part-time jobs now than I can handle just to make ends meet. Yes, jobs are scarce, because I have all of the jobs. If I gave up a few of them, it would likely help to balance the economy. So, the last thing I need is another job. But what are the requirements to become an independent driver? I know that cab drivers require special certifications and licensing. They must attend defensive driving classes, additional training and background checks. I’ve only taken Uber once, and the fare was surprisingly low. But then, it was not during peak traffic conditions.

The latest news buzz is all about Uber and Lyft suspending their business in Austin, Texas because they want to regulate their own drivers. While the new city ordinance requires companies like Uber and Lyft to be regulated like taxis. That means, among other things, drivers would have to be fingerprinted as part of a background check. According to a report by NPR, last year, Uber and Lyft withdrew from San Antonio over a similar requirement that drivers be fingerprinted. The companies returned months later under a program that made fingerprinting voluntary. Meanwhile, Houston also has rules requiring drivers for ride-hailing apps to be fingerprinted. Uber has previously threatened to withdraw from Houston over that ordinance. According to Culturemap Houston, the city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, responded, “If it comes down to public safety on one hand and Uber staying on the other, I don’t think it is even close.” Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles are considering similar regulations on ride-hailing apps, according to The Associated Press.

So, although independent drivers may not be as stringently regulated as cab drivers, it still worries me that they may not be available in such a large “party city” like Austin. With 6th street all abuzz, South By Southwest (SXSW), Austin City Limits (ACL) and many other annual festivals where people come from all over the world to attend, and drinking is a part of that experience, for most, it is disturbing that more people will be likely to drink and drive. Although cabs will still be available, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) claims that Uber, for one, is saving lives because it is an easy app to manipulate when impaired. The app retains your credit card information, so no money is exchanged with the driver, and the tip is already rolled into the fare. It retains your home address and GPS will let the driver know where you are when requesting a ride. Accidents and DWI related fatalities will likely be at staggering (no pun intended) all time highs (again, no pun intended).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Ridesharing – Comedy Defensive Driving

Speed Limits Have Increased – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Unless you’ve recently had your license revoked, you’ve probably noticed that speed limits have increased. Since 2013, speeds have become more extreme, and they continue to increase. Although driving under the speed limit, or not with the flow of traffic has been found to cause more crashes than speeding, the high impact from speeding crashes typically cause more fatalities. Teenage girls are now saying that they are uncomfortable with the higher speeds, while teenage boys are thrilled by the increase. There’s a couple of frightening scenarios. Girls causing accidents while driving on a high-speed freeway, under the speed limit and without the knowledge and driving confidence required to be on the freeway. And boys taking risks at an even higher speed and causing accidents.

In 2013 alone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were nearly 2,000 deaths, quite possibly due to the increase in speed limits. Over the past 20 years, an estimated 33,000 additional fatalities occurred as states kept raising speed limits. In the study performed by the IIHS, it was found that each 5mph increase in the maximum speed limit was associated to a 4% increase in road deaths, while there is an 8% increase on interstates and freeways. It’s just a natural fact that crashes are more deadly as speeds increase.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Speed Limits Have Increased – Comedy Defensive Driving School

NO DRIVER LICENSE

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I saw an automobile insurance advertisement on a city bus that said “No Driver License? No Problem!” Now, that’s very disturbing to me. I always thought that you actually need a driver license to insure a vehicle. That just makes sense. Someone told me just yesterday that she was broadsided by a non-resident who ran a red light. The woman was driving someone else’s car, which was insured, but the woman did not have a driver license and did not speak English. I’m sure the incident was absolutely terrifying for the visitor to our country. She likely had no idea of the extent that the law would punish her, like in other countries (maybe even her own country) since she was at fault. Thankfully, the woman she hit was not injured. But within a few days of the accident, the foreigner was claiming that she was actually injured in the crash. In addition to the injury claim, she also created other diversions, likely trying to avoid the “no driver license” issue. So, what is the law regarding being licensed to drive?

Driving without a license is a misdemeanor. And the consequences of driving without a license becomes more severe if the offense is repeated. The first offense is no greater than a $200 fine. And the fine increases with each offense. The third offense, along with a hefty fine, results in jail time. But, if a minor gets caught without a driver license, the total penalties will also include a towing fee, impound fee and court fee. And, the offense will directly affect the time period until the minor can obtain a license when they turn 16. Community service hours and a little time in the “juvee” may added by the judge. The parents could also be held liable and charged with negligence if they knowingly allowed their child to drive. Driving with a suspended license, although also a misdemeanor, generally carries more severe penalties and is a more serious offense.

Oh, and about that foreigner? Apparently, an undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver license in Texas.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

No Driver License – Comedy Defensive Driving

Wrong Way Driving – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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According to TAPCO (Traffic & Parking Control Co., Inc.), a Wisconsin based business headquartered in Brown Deer, Wisconsin dedicated to manufacturing, distributing and servicing the latest innovations in safety, wrong way driving often leads to a head on collision. In fact, driving the wrong way in one-way traffic or wrong side of road factored into 3.1 percent of all fatal crashes in the U.S. More than 5 result in a fatality. It’s hard to understand how someone could enter on the wrong side without immediately realizing it. The National Transportation Safety Board says at least 80% of wrong-way crashes involve alcohol. But then, we already assumed that anyone driving on the wrong side of the road are either drunk (or British). An NBC News investigation has found that nearly 4,000 people have been killed in wrong-way traffic crashes nationwide over the last decade. And Texas ranks highest for wrong-way accidents. Data from the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) shows wrong-way accidents jumped 13% in the last year, even as other states have managed to reduce the number of those collisions by lowering warning signs on highway ramps.

So, what steps are being made to fix the problem? Well, installing WRONG WAY blinker sign systems can warn and deter drivers from entering onto freeways and tollways by providing the extra visible warning cues standard traffic signs lack. These solar-powered BlinkerSigns are only activated by vehicles traveling in the wrong direction. Another brilliant solution they have come up with is to also install signs facing the opposite direction to warn drivers of the wrong way traveling vehicle. And lowering signs (which only cost $200 to $300 per ramp) make them more visible in a car’s headlights at night (when most alcohol related wrong-way crashes occur). Apparently drivers who have been drinking also tend to lower their heads. So, with such an affordable solution, why not move forward? California lowered their signs back in the 1970’s. Since then, so has Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, Ohio and Florida. These methods have even been tested in Texas and the number of mistaken entries was cut by more than half on the Dallas North Tollway. It’s apparently getting some resistance until further research due to the lower signs being a hazard if someone hits one.

In closing, until we embrace extra measures like other states have, perhaps remembering to “At Night, Keep Right” since wrong-way drivers are usually barreling at you in your far left lane, may save your life.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Wrong Way Driving – Comedy Defensive Driving

Choosing a Vehicle for Your Teen

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Car crashes are the leading cause for teenage deaths and the crash risk is much higher during the first year teenagers are able to drive. According to studies, teenager drivers tend to underestimate hazardous driving situations and are less able than older drivers to recognize dangerous situations. Teens also have the lowest rate of seat belt use. According to surveys about 10% of high school students report they do not wear seat belts. And previous research has shown that many newly licensed teenagers in the U.S. are driving vehicles with inferior crash protection. So, choosing a vehicle for your teen is a huge undertaking. You want to get them a newer model with the latest safety features, but not a new car.

My parents parented by trial and error as all parents do. With each daughter, they learned what worked and what didn’t. When the oldest turned 16, my father bought her a new convertible sports car. Looking back, the one smart thing that he did, was to buy her a five speed. It’s nearly impossible to multitask while shifting gears. And, as sweet as that ride was, she would drink and take out parked cars on weekends. When the second oldest became old enough to drive, he bought her a used sports car. She was a decent driver. He probably spent more time with her driver education. When it came to me, the youngest, he gave me a $60 gold, four-door Delta88 Oldsmobile (a minivan would have been cooler). Although I was too embarrassed to be seen in it, and hardly drove it, when it went to the junk yard that car was smashed in on all four sides. It was like a Mini when I got done with it. I’m sure it was more compact and easier to park. So, what are the best tips when choosing a vehicle for your teen?

High safety ratings are imperative when choosing a car. Bigger, heavier vehicles, although not the best choice for fuel economy, are said to protect better in a crash. Assuring that the car has key safety features, such as electronic stability control, is especially beneficial for teenage drivers. So, something more along the lines of a family vehicle with low horsepower, will not only keep them from speeding, but will also prevent them from wanting to drive at all, as was my experience.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Choosing a Vehicle for Your Teen – Comedy Defensive Driving

ROAD TRIP TIPS – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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“Keep your eyes on the road, your hand upon the wheel.” “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near. “ Those lyrics from The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues are very prophetic. Perhaps Jim Morrison foresaw an overwhelming amount of distractions in our future, and the possibility of shortening one’s life due to those distractions. Spending much of his childhood on road trips, though scenic, those long drives must have become somewhat monotonous and sometimes evening boring for a kid. It would be easy for someone’s mind to wander. Many of his best lyrics were written as a result of those hours of idle time, trapped in a car, driving through the Southwest United States. There is plenty of nothing to see for a kid. For grown ups, there is Cadillac Ranch outside of Amarillo, Texas, Stonehenge II in Odessa, The Branch Davidians’ swimming pool in Waco. And now we have the Prada Retail Store art installation in Marfa (only for looks, not a real working store). You also must see The Thing in Dragon, Arizona! Here are a few road trip tips to help keep it safe and fun.

Unfortunately, the Morrison family didn’t have satellite radio to be able to listen to. You’ve got to love the variety of unusual stations that don’t lose their signal between cities. That’s certainly a lifesaver! If you plan a road trip with passengers, assign whoever is going to be sitting in the front seat as your “co-pilot.” They can be appointed as your assistant and be expected to do whatever you ask of them (well, nearly everything). Make a game out of it, or more like a competition. Set rules for yourself and other drivers. No cell phone use while driving, PERIOD. No talking, texting or reading messages or emails. Set up your phone in driving mode and maybe even put it in the glove compartment. Have chatting periods, music periods, etc. Put your “co-pilot” in charge of the music and GPS. Map your routes before leaving for your trip. Re-check them every day to familiarize yourself with your routes. Stop and eat all of your meals. Or purchase healthy food items and take time to stop and enjoy a picnic. Get out every few hours and take a brisk walk. Make a little sight-seeing tour out of it and take some pictures.

Road Trip America is a great website with tips, sightseeing tours and loads of great information for your next road trip. As the Lizard King said “Have a real good time…let it roll, baby roll.”

Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Road Trip Tips – Comedy Defensive Driving

TEENS BEHIND THE WHEEL – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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When it comes to parenting, it is said that over-involvement in your teenager’s life can be counter-productive. My mother would disagree, as would most grandmothers from her generation who ruled with an iron fist and a stingy flyswatter. Why did parents of my generation think they could do it better? Oh well, at least we experimented with time outs and counting to three, and we failed miserably. So, when it comes time for your teenager to be driving, you’re going to have to really put your foot down (or up…). Although helicopter parenting may be considered over the top and not very helpful, when it comes to our teens behind the wheel, nagging a little too much and being overly cautious may be the best approach to save your teenager’s life.
There are countless stories about teen accidents as well as countless videos showing teens driven to distraction, and the statistics are alarming. Studies show that, if you are going to die prematurely, at any time in your life, the two worst years are between 16 and 17, and the reason is because of driving. In fact, the leading cause for accidental death in teenagers is car crashes and the second leading cause for accidental death is perhaps from mouthing off (after all, I am a mother. Inexperienced drivers, combined with in-car distractions is truly a recipe for disaster. And, when it comes to our kids, studies also say that many parents may be much too relaxed about the subject. Either they trust their own kids entirely too much (which puts a lot of adult responsibility on them), or the parents are simply tired of car pooling their children and look forward to having someone else take over that chore. And why not other errands as well, such as washing the car, shopping, etc. Sometimes it’s nice to have some help. And most teenagers that haven’t a car of their own would jump at the chance to get behind the wheel and run those errands for you, just to get some drive time. Which is a good thing, since practice leads to experience, and experience makes a better driver. Under the strict rule, although, that they are not picking up other friends to go along for the ride since teen car pooling causes the most danger.
According to AAA, if a 16 or 17 year old driver has a passenger under 21 in the car, they are 44% more likely to be killed in a crash. Having two passengers doubles that risk, and it quadruples with three or more passengers.
It is said that teens think that they are invincible and they’re not particularly worried about the harm to themselves of getting in a car crash. Some kids admit that they were trying to look cool for their friends and/or trying to impress them when they crashed. Most states set passenger limits for new drivers for these very reasons. But ultimately it is the parent’s responsibility to keep their own kid safe. So, setting rules will only let them know that you care. Make a contract with your kid. Stipulating the rules and outlining the consequences for violating those rules will help you to monitor your kid.
Driving is a privilege, and a privilege can be taken away. So…cell phones in the glove compartment (be sure to turn the notification “dings” are off). And long live your kid!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teens Behind The Wheel – Comedy Defensive Driving

Distracted Driving – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Spring has sprung and kids are enjoying their spring break vacation. What better time for a road trip? Spring flowers are in bloom and Texas is famous for their wildflowers. People come from everywhere to see Texas in bloom. So, an abundance of distracted driving will ensue during Spring break. Families will likely be parking on the shoulder of the freeway to take pictures of their children in the Bluebonnets. In fact, I thought it was actually a Texas “law” that you were required to take pictures of your kids in the Bluebonnets on the side of the freeway with semi trucks flying past, scorpions, tarantulas, fire ants, cactus, poison ivy and rattlesnakes! I took a picture of my daughter in the Bluebonnets when she was a baby. But I put her on a blanket. Babies have sensitive skin and rash up easily. I took so many pictures of my baby that she was photo-jaded by the time she was a toddler. She was an October baby, born the month of Halloween. I have a picture of her when she was probably only four days old, where I hollowed out a pumpkin and shoved her in it. Babies have those giant basketball heads and small necks, so they can’t hold their own head up (you just want to tape a popsicle stick to their neck to prop up their head). And I put the top of the pumpkin right on her head, right on her soft spot. You know, when you’re a single parent and you don’t get any sleep because you do all of the feedings and diaper changing by yourself, you do some really stupid things. I learned this, I learned that Child Protective Services (CPS) will babysit. For FREE…for YEARS!
So look out for cars parking and/or slowing down to observe the wildflowers. Slow down, when passing, or, better yet, move over a lane.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Distracted Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving