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School Bus Safety – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Nearly every day, I see reports on the news about vehicles passing a stopped school bus and children nearly injured or killed. Some are not so lucky. I also hear stories of those close calls from students in my defensive driving classes. It is always a hot topic. But when I ask them if they are crystal clear about what to do when a school bus is stopped with its red lights flashing and stop sign is out, some admit that they are not certain. So, I am going to tell you what to know about school bus safety and child safety.
The fine for passing a school is a hefty one. They have raised the price, hoping it will modify a driver’s behavior. Isn’t it sad to think that the price may motivate them not to do it, as if possibly hitting a child wouldn’t stop someone from passing a stopped bus that is loading or unloading children.
So, where has the system failed? Why isn’t everyone crystal clear about this? Surely, driver educators are teaching new drivers about this. It can’t be true that every student is just not paying attention in class. Or that they just don’t remember learning about it. That is disturbing not only to me, but to other parents of small children riding those buses. If those student drivers were given the cold, hard facts about the consequences (both financial and emotional), would that help them to be crystal clear?
The parents would be the ones responsible for paying their children’s fines, since those fines are not an amount that a child could pay. And, when the child’s insurance rates go up for a traffic violation, the parent’s rates increase. Why is raising the fine, rather than emphasizing the importance of knowing the law the measure that has been taken?
So, if you are unclear about what to do when you see a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop sign is out, you may want to check with your state’s law. But here is the Texas law.
If the school bus is in your path of travel and preparing to stop, initially, the yellow warning lights will begin to flash. This would be the time to slow down behind the bus and prepare to stop behind the bus (at least 10 feet behind the bus). The lights will begin flashing red and the stop arm will come out. All lanes should stop. Not only the lane that the bus is in. That lane would have no choice, other than to stop, unless you’re Evil Kenevil and have a ramp in your trunk. Other lanes also must stop behind the bus, parallel with the car behind the bus. When the bus is finished loading or unloading children, the bus driver will shut off the flashing red lights and close the door on the bus. The stop arm will retract, but don’t start moving until the buses wheels start rolling. The bus driver will not move until he/she knows there are no children around the bus.
If you are on the opposite side of the road from where the bus is stopped, going the opposite direction, and there is a proper median separating each side, without a split or divide in the median, you do not have to stop for the bus. But, if there is a divided median, or only a painted line for separating opposing lanes, you must stop on your side. Again, every lane must stop.
Then, again, you should check with your state’s law if you are not perfectly clear. It will save you and save others in the end.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
What To Know About School Buses – Comedy Defensive Driving

Texting in Texas – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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It’s been a long time coming, prohibiting texting in Texas while driving a vehicle. Texas is one of the only states in the nation that has no state law regarding cell phone use when driving. Most states ban cell phone use, altogether, while driving. Of course, Texas does have a state law prohibiting cell phone use in active school zones where children are present. That, too, in the past, was only city ordinances. And now, for several years, has been a state law.

There is just one month left in the 84th Texas legislative session. For the third time, the texting and driving ban is in front of the Texas legislature. The house has already passed its bill and now it has been sent over to the senate state affairs committee. This new bill differs from the first one introduced. Initially, the bill said you cannot write, read or send a text message, even if you were stopped. The new version says that you can text wherever as long as you are stopped.

Well, at least it’s a start. At least we’re going to begin to evolve. Just looking at the number of senseless accidents and deaths due to cell phone use in Texas alone is staggering. So, still being able to text while sitting at a red light will only likely cause more road rage. As it is, the person behind you is already so impatient that they don’t even give you time to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas pedal when the light turns green. They’re already honking at you, “What are you waiting for, lady, another shade of GREEN?” I hear in New York City, they honk at you when the cross-traffic light turns yellow. At least we’re not that impatient.

But, no one wants to miss their opportunity to get through the green light in an intersection when they are already running late for work. Now, with construction zones and lane closures, ramp closures, etc. So this will surely cause even more road rage than ever before. Austin and San Antonio, Texas, have both passed city ordinances banning cell phone use while driving, altogether. These cities are entirely hands free. And Austin’s city ordinance also includes bicyclists. So now the question is, “Who the heck is texting while riding a bike?” Now, that’s coordination! Maybe Lance Armstrong can do that. He’s about the only bicyclist that could keep up with the flow of traffic, anyway.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Texting in Texas – Comedy Defensive Driving

Car Cameras – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Apparently everything that happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. So, what about everything that happens in and around your car? Car Cameras – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com or dash cams are a great way of providing evidence in case of an accident or insurance dispute. They are excellent for a hit and run and been used in Russia for years. Russia is famous for YouTube videos recorded with dash cams since nearly every driver in Russia has a dash-mounted video camera in their car. Aren’t you curious why? Well, I’m gonna tell you! Apparently, Russia reported a total of 35,972 road deaths in 2007 alone. Since Russians are apparently accident prone, along with their corrupt law enforcement and a faulty legal system, some say this is the best and least expensive form of legal protection.

Here in the states, you can purchase a dash-cam for as little as $70 and as much as thousands of dollars, depending on the features you require. Some have a number of functions, such as dual lens security cameras that face inside and outside of the car, as well as in-car video systems with night vision recording (just like Ghost Hunters, everything will be in a lovely glowing green). Some offer accident sensors that will turn the camera on in an impact or with a glass breaking sensor and built in GPS software to log the time of the incident (I would say “alleged” incident, but camera proof would confirm any wrong doing). The pricey ones even record at all angles, inside and outside of the car so you can film your own Paparazzi. “Take that you pesky Paparazzi.” (My sister called me when Princess Di was killed and told me she just didn’t understand why that big Italian opera singer would want to kill Princess Di. Ugh! I wish I was kidding.)

It would be terribly convenient to have a dash cam to catch someone breaking into your car. Or to make sure your teen driver or employee is doing the right thing behind the wheel. If they knew they were on camera, it may just spark a sense of accountability. Perhaps a dash cam would come in handy to prove a spouse’s affairs and indiscretions in court. Yikes! That’s it! I’m totally getting one!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Dash Cam – Comedy Defensive Driving

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