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TexasSure – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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In Texas, 1 out of every 5 vehicles is uninsured. Now Texas knows which ones they are via the TexasSure Vehicle Insurance Verification program. So, police who are patrolling know when they run your plates or scan your registration sticker if you have liability limitations or not. And, now that they have implemented the Texas Two Step Program which combines the inspection and registration into one sticker, when you renew your registration, they already know if you have insurance coverage as well. The current minimum liability insurance in Texas covers $30,000 for each injured person (up to a total of $60,000 per accident) and $25,000 for property damage.

So, what if you can’t afford insurance? Well, you really can’t afford not to have it. The Driver Financial Responsibility Program has put a kibosh on drivers with no insurance. The citation for no liability insurance is a heft fine between $350 and $400. And the second violation is around $1,000. Plus you will get your car impounded and have a two year driver license suspension. In addition, you will receive a surcharge, annually, for three years of approximately $260 per year (money you could have used to pay for insurance). And, it will remain on your driving record FOREVER. And forever is a long time. Those of us who have liability insurance are paying higher rates for uninsured and under insured motorist coverage because of the 1 in 5 drivers without insurance. So what about college students, single parents and elderly drivers who cannot afford insurance? If you’re having trouble paying for insurance or have been denied coverage, you can seek insurance through an association of insurers called the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan Association (TAIPA). And you can access more information about them at taipa.wpengine.com/faq/taipa-fags/. In addition, if you have a car that is 10 years old or older, you can get state assistance to get your car repaired so it will pass inspection, or even get state assistance to purchase a newer car. That link is http://www.nctcog.org/trans/air/act/.

Those of us who do have insurance carry uninsured and under insured motorist coverage, usually carry the minimums. And most newer cars cost an average of $30,000 and up. So make sure those minimums are enough to pay for ALL of the damages, should your car be hit by an uninsured driver. Having to pay money out of your own pocket to get your car fixed (especially when it wasn’t even your fault) would be a real drag.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

TexasSure – Comedy Defensive Driving

The Odds of Dying in a Car Crash – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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I have been preoccupied with thoughts of mortality since my Father’s death in September. Although his life ended as a result of natural causes, he barely escaped the odds of dying in a car crash or in a motorcycle crash. Of course these odds change as technology evolves. Everything does. And, it appears that more people are choosing cremation rather than a traditional funeral. This is what my Mother had chosen for him. A handful of children attended the memorial service at the funeral home, since there was no viewing, it seemed kid appropriate. Little did we know, there was another service scheduled across the hall from my Father’s, with a traditional viewing. Shortly after the service began, my tiny niece ran up to her mother and said “Mom! I just saw a dead body! A REAL dead body!” My sister was horrified. Then my niece looked around the room and with a puzzled look on her face, said “Where’s Grandpa’s body?” My sister told her “Grandpa’s body is in that box on the table.” My niece looked at her with a little grin. Clearly her mother was joking. “How did Grandpa fit in that little box?” My sister said “Because we had Grandpa cremated and his ashes are in that box.” My niece screamed “You set Grandpa on FIRE?”
With my preoccupation of life and death, I found some interesting statistics and other facts about death and dying. I wasn’t surprised that the National Safety Council’s table on an individual’s odds of dying from various causes lists motor vehicle incidents in the top four, with the odds being 1 in 112. The odds for a car occupant dying are 1 in 492. And the odds of a motorcycle rider dying are 1 in 922. The National Safety Council collects safety statistics for their annual Injury Facts publication, which includes this table on an individual’s odds of dying from various causes. But, still, the number one cause of death on the list is heart disease and cancer, which are 1 in 7 odds. Not good odds for any of the living and certainly bad news for those who are already gone.
And let us not forget the old hornet, wasp and bee sting deaths (1 in 75,852), legal execution (1 in 96,203) and being killed by a dog (1 in 103,798). Wait! I have three dogs that are seemingly nice. Tonight, I will be sleeping with one eye open.
Until next week …
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
The Odds of Dying in a Car Crash – Comedy Defensive Driving

Fender Bender 101!

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What to do in case of a Fender Bender, Minor Accidents, Driving Safety, What to do in a Minor Accident

Ten on Tuesday – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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I learn an abundance of information from my defensive driving students. This week, everyone has been talking about Ten on Tuesday, a new tradition in North Texas. We all spend more time commuting than we would like. And we all see our fair share of trash on or near our roadways. After all, motorists generate 52% of litter along roadways and highways (according to the 2009 Texas Department of Transportation Litter Attitudes and Behavior Survey). Wouldn’t it be a much more pleasant commute if we didn’t have to see all of this trash? This program encourages businesses, schools, community groups and individuals to reverse litter by picking up 10 pieces of trash and recyclable materials each Tuesday. It’s a brilliant idea and the results in just one year, if only 5,000 people participate and chunk 10 pieces of litter a week into the trash or recycling bin, the Metroplex will reduce litter by 2.6 million pieces!

If you are ready to get involved, you can make a pledge at reverselitter.org. There, you can find more information about how you can get started and encourage friends and family to participate as well. As of today, there are 7.952 pledges and counting.

So get involved and take the pledge. Do your part to keep our highways and roads beautiful. And look for the Chunk Litter Here trash bins in your area. Together, we can keep our part of this country a beautiful place to live.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Ten on Tuesday – Comedy Defensive Driving

What To Do If You’re Being Pulled Over!

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If you’re like me, then from time to time you’ve been known to exceed the speed limit by a few miles or so. Maybe you’re in a hurry and you didn’t take the time to come to a complete stop at that stop sign – maybe you didn’t even see the stop sign! In any case, a violation of the rules of the road might see you in hot pursuit by flashing blue and red lights. In these situations, there are certain protocol that should be followed to ensure the safety of you and your passengers, as well as the officer in charge. Here are a few tips should you ever find yourself being pulled over while driving.

 

1. Slow down and turn your turn signal on to get to the closest and safest place to stop, whether this is on the right shoulder of the road or highway, or in the closest parking lot. You’ll want to pull over as quickly as possible, but more so in a safe and calm manner.

 

2. After you have pulled over, make sure you turn off your radio and your car engine. Roll down your window and place your hands on the steering wheel. Police officers are killed making routing traffic stops on a daily basis, so anything you can do to assuage their heightened alertness and portray that you are cooperating in a calm manner is key.

 

3. Don’t go rummaging through your purse or wallet until the officer gets to your car door. This may indicate you are looking to hide something or possibly reaching for a weapon.

 

4. When the officer gets to your door, the first thing they will probably ask is to see your license and registration, and possible insurance. Most of these things should be kept in your car or on your person.

 

5. In most cases, anything you say to an officer may later be used against you in court. An officer may hand you a ticket, and in most cases signing it is not an admission of guilt, just a promise to pay the fine or show up in court. Most of the time, the correct response to a police officer is, “No,sir” or “Yes,sir.”

 

6. The police normally cannot search your car unless they find probable cause … but this can be anything they deem suspicious from a weird smell to an object in plain view. Don’t give them any reason to further detain you, follow the steps above!

 

There are a few instances when extra precaution may be used when getting pulled over. If you are alone on a dark highway or side road, it is within your rights to continue driving until you find a well-lit or more populated area. You may also ask that an officer identify himself/herself if getting pulled over by an unmarked or strange vehicle with flashing lights. Getting pulled over certainly is no fun, but following these precautions can save you a lot of grief!

Blowing Out A Tire – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Blowing out a tire has been, by far, the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me in my many years of driving. I suppose I should feel lucky that it was a rear tire that blew out, rather than a front tire. I have heard that blowing out a front tire can really jerk the wheel and is much more dangerous. When the tire blew, it sounded exactly like a shotgun. And it scared the crap out of me. Unfortunately, when you blow a tire, you are usually on a freeway, driving at a high speed. And, from my experience, it’s just more unfortunate luck that it’s at night and you’re by yourself. And every serial killer comes out of the woodwork to help you change that tire. I called roadside assistance, locked all of my doors and rolled up my windows. But I left my driver side window rolled down just a smidgeon, so I could communicate with someone when they approached the car. But, not enough that they could reach inside my window and throttle me. A few good Samaritans did stop to rend assistance. And I felt like a jerk, talking to them through the slightly cracked window “Thanks for stopping to help, but I’ve already called roadside assistance.” What I really wanted to say is “Didn’t I see you on Craigslist?”

It only took roadside assistance 25 minutes to arrive. But, at night, in girl years, 25 minutes is an eternity. In Texas, there is an 800 number on the back of your driver license that you can call for roadside assistance and emergencies. And, the best thing is, it’s free. It’s offered to anyone who has blown out a tire or run out of gas on Texas highways. But you actually have to be on the highway to use it. You cannot be on a ramp or access road.

The other frightening thing about being broken down on the side of a freeway was that every time a large truck would pass by, my car would shimmy. And that was also a frightening feeling. I remembered hearing that, if you break down on either shoulder, you shouldn’t put your hazard lights on. But, rather, you should put your signal light on. As if you were going to re-enter the freeway. Passersby may see that you have your signal light on and will be concerned that you may be re-entering into their lane, and may move over into the next lane when passing. In using the signal, there were significantly less vehicles passing right next to me at a high speed. That was a great tip that I am so glad I remembered. And you can pass that tip on to people you know.

If you blow out a tire, and you make sudden corrections or jerk the wheel at a high speed, you could roll your car. So, it is highly recommended that you follow these steps, should it ever happen to you. Take your foot off the gas, so your car slows down on its own, naturally. Grip the wheel (especially a front rim could really jerk the wheel). Oh, and change your pants. Because blowing out a tire will most certainly scare the crap out of you. I would recommend you put a spare pair of pants in the trunk with your spare tire. You’re going to need them.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Blowing Out A Tire – Comedy Defensive Driving

5 To Drive – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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In October, 2013, during National Teen Driver Week, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled a new campaign that challenges parents to discuss five critical driving practices with their teen drivers. These five critical practices can have the greatest beneficial impact in the event of a crash. Which is, in my opinion, outstanding, since motor vehicle collisions are the number one killer of teens in America. Almost half of teens killed in crashes are the drivers, themselves. This campaign, 5 to drive, as well as additional good information can be found at distraction.gov (the official US government website for distracted driving). The list is designed to counteract poor driving decisions that have contributed to the high death rate among teen drivers.

The 5 To Drive campaign topics are:
1. No Cell phone use or texting while driving
2. No extra passengers
3. No speeding
4. No alcohol
5. No driving or riding without a seat belt

Most states already have the above restrictions for new drivers. In Texas, a new driver has restrictions for one full year after they receive their driver license. No talking or texting. Driving curfews. And only one non-member under 21 in the car with you when you are driving (i.e. they only want you to kill one friend at a time…not all of them at once). That’s a brilliant restriction since we would pack kids in our cars like sardines when I was a teen driver.

My chief complaint as a mother of a teenage driver is the options for driver training that are currently offered. When I was a teen, we had drivers education in high school. It was part of our curriculum. We had a simulator that looked like a bumper car with a little theatre screen on it. How appropriate, to learn how to drive in a bumper car. My father would also take us out on country roads in his truck and have us practice driving. So, in addition to our driver training in school, we got hands-on instruction from my dear old dad. And my dad was a drunk driver. So, I learned how to weave and drift across three lanes. He’d put his beer can on the center of the dashboard and say “Now, line that up with the edge of the road.” Then he’d climb over the seat and pass out. Now, most high schools don’t even offer driver education. Independent driving schools offer driver education at a high cost. Or, a teen can take an online driver education course for quite a bit less. And, in Texas, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) offers a Parent-Taught Driver Education course for the least expense. The cover letter in the packet is totally written by a mother, too. It’s already letting you have it as a parent. It says “This is a parent-taught driver education course. Not a child-teaches-child while the parent is in the other room watching television.” Most teens are now taught to drive by their mothers. When I ask these teens, they say it is because their father is too impatient. I ask mothers who have taught this course to their teens if they were in the room with them while they were doing the classroom instruction. Most say they were not. At least they’re honest. But that means that there are many teens out there driving around with a scant idea of what they are doing behind the wheel. It’s a chilling thought. The more parents are really involved with instilling important driving skills and habits and making sure that they are constantly reminding them and making them accountable for their driving actions, the better chance that their teen will not end up as a statistic.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

5 To Drive – Comedy Defensive Driving

Real Texans Don’t Litter – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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For more than 27 years, Don’t mess with Texas has been dedicated to educating Texans about the real cost of litter, because real Texans don’t litter. Through award-winning ads, statewide road tours, and true Texas pride, they go to great lengths to keep Texas litter-free.

The 25th anniversary Don’t Mess with Texas litterbag, which just came out, will feature a new design designed by McKinney resident Jenifer Oslter. Texans across the state submitted original art for the chance for their design to appear on the special-edition litterbags as part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Don’t Mess with Texas Design A Litterbag contest.

You can find more information about this anti-littering campaign at dontmesswithtexas.org. This is a fantastic website with some good information and tools to educate the masses about litter control on our highways and roads. With Spring approaching and our beautiful, world famous wildflowers about to (or as we Texans say “fixin’ to”) blanket these scenic routes, now is the time to be more conscientious about keeping things cleaned up and clear of litter.

Last Spring I was taking a trip to Corsicana. It was March, and the Bluebonnets were breathtaking. A popular tradition in Texas is for families to take pictures of their children in the wildflowers. If you travel any major roads in Texas in March, you will see cars pulled over on the shoulder of the freeway with moms taking pictures of their babies. Yes, taking pictures with huge, loud tractor trailers huffing by. Not to mention, what is hidden in the tall grass. Rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, fire ants, sand burs, poison ivy, you name it. It doesn’t seem safe, really. I took pictures of my baby in the Bluebonnets at the lake on a blanket. It seemed safer. But, then, I do recall hollowing out a pumpkin and shoving her in it when she was just a few days old. I also put the top of the pumpkin on her head, likely on her soft spot. I hear that CPS (Child Protective Services) will babysit … for free … for years!

So, last Spring, on my trip to Corsicana, I was enjoying the scenery when I noticed that someone had taken a picture of their baby in the Bluebonnets on the side of the freeway and rolled up a disposable diaper into a ball and just left it there. The plastic on a diaper is very thin, but its certainly not biodegradable. It would likely be there forever. So, I went back and took a picture of it. I thought I’d send the picture to the people at dontmesswithtexas.org and they would probably think it was a good advertising photo for their website. I had a friend “tag” the photo. So it says “Don’t Mess With Texas … It’s Your Doody.” I hope they use it.

On the website, it mentions that the only three things you can litter with, legally, in Texas is ice, water and chicken feathers. I always thought that something biodegradable, such as a banana peel or apple core was legal to litter with. But, alas, the problem is that animals have such a keen sense of smell, they may go onto the road to check it out as a potential meal and get hit by a car. Apparently some people will actually swerve to avoid hitting a fluffy animal and injure or kill themselves. Mostly women, I believe, because we have feelings. And, cigarette butts seem to be the biggest hazard of all, and the most littered with. According to the website, since 2005, cigarette butt trash has increased by a whopping 42%. Perhaps with the new electric cigarettes, those numbers will decrease. Or, maybe not. I purchased an e-cigarette for my sister, trying to help her to quit smoking. I asked her how it was working out for her. She said she forgot it was an e-cigarette and flicked it out the window of the car.

Until next week….

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Real Texans Don’t Litter – Comedy Defensive Driving

Traffic and Ramp Construction – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Well, it’s Superbowl Sunday, and I would only watch the game if they released a live lion onto the field. That would make it a little more “sporty” and more interesting to watch. I really wish I liked football and have tried, honestly I have. But I find it as boring as watching paint dry. I did, though, like the half time show as most women do. And I do know some women who like sports about as much as men do. Oddly, those women are always hitting on me.

Also, I’ve noticed that most women, unlike men, don’t like to drive. Driving, to me, is a chore. Especially with the traffic we have here in the city. It takes forever just to get across town. You leave the house clean-shaven and by the time you get to your destination, you have a full beard. And a woman my age can totally grow a full beard. I’ve seen it and I know you have too. I mean, not in the mirror, but on other women.

In Texas, they are doing construction on most of the freeways all at the same time. So it’s been a mess here with traffic and ramp construction. What would normally have been a 15 minute drive, took me one hour and 45 minutes. And that wasn’t even in rush hour traffic. I have noticed that, in my defensive driving classes, I have more people getting a speeding ticket for entering and exiting the freeway too fast or speeding on the access road on either side of the freeway to get up to speed before entering the ramp. The problem is, the ramps are too darned short here. In fact, they’re dangerously short. And, I read something a few years ago that stated “Texas is planning to lengthen the ramps where they can. And they are going to take responsibility for how some of our highways and roads are poorly designed.” So, years later, they actually are keeping their promise and lengthening the ramps while they are widening the freeways. Now, many entrance ramps are long enough that you can actually get up to speed to merge in with the flow of traffic. And you have lengthy exit ramps to get from freeway speed, down to access road speed without locking up your breaks to reduce your speed.

Another problem, in addition to the short ramps, is that people seem to be doing 80 in the slow lane and 45 in the fast lane (passing lane). You must get up to speed to be able to merge in with the flow of traffic. And, on a short ramp, unless you have a crotch rocket motorcyle or a reallly fast car, you have to get a good, running start on the access road. Hence, the speeding ticket you will receive. You’re not supposed to exceed the speed limit on the access road until you enter the ramp, which is impossible.

So, thank you, Texas, for keeping your word and lengthening those ramps. Until they lengthen the ramps on your commute to work, you may want to go out and purchase a crotch rocket motorcyle or a really fast car. And, perhaps those of you who like to do 80 in the slow lane can consider moving over to another lane and let the ramp enter the freeway. In traffic, it wouldn’t hurt you to let one car, per car enter the freeway from the ramp. It’s affectionately called the “zipper.” Some people will, while other people won’t let anyone in because they think it’s going to make them later than they already are, and then you have the good samaritan that has to let a half dozen cars in at one time. Thinking he’s doing his good deed for the day. And the guy behind him is counting how many bullets he needs to put in the chamber of his gun because he’s not so happy.

So, be patient, be courteous and good luck out there.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Traffic and Construction – Comedy Defensive Driving