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Roadside Assistance – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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In Texas, there is an 800 number printed on the back of your driver license or ID card for roadside assistance and emergencies. If your car is disabled on a state or federal roadway in Texas, you can call the number to request non-emergency assistance. The number is super tiny, so you may need a magnifying glass just to read it. The number is also printed on the registration sticker in your windshield. There, you will find it to be a little larger type and much easier to read. A stranded vehicle is a hazard for other cars on the roadway. And, in traffic, the shoulder where the car would likely be stranded is for emergency vehicles.
The roadside assistance service will only change a tire or put a little gas in your car, whichever you need to get you back on the road. They will not tow your vehicle. And, your vehicle must be on the freeway. They will not assist you if you are on an exit or entrance ramp, on the access road or anywhere else, other than the freeway or roadway. Sometimes, even driving a few extra feet on a rim seems a little safer than being stranded on a high speed roadway, especially when large trucks pass you. It is also not for emergencies and not a substitute for 9-1-1 and the number is not to be used as an information hotline or to find a date.
And, while you’re waiting for your knight in shining armor to arrive, here’s a little safety tip for you. Don’t put your hazard lights on while stranded on the freeway. Drunk drivers are attracted to flashing lights (kinda like how blonds are attracted to shiny objects). It would be better to turn on your signal as if you were going to re-enter the freeway from the shoulder (even if you’re not), because other motorists may move over a lane to allow you to re-enter (Really? No one is ever that courteous, they’re more likely afraid you’ll pull out in front of them and will move over for their own safety). This, in turn, would be safer for you, rather than having traffic pass next to you while you wait for assistance.
So now you know that your I.D. or driver license is good for more than picking a lock.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Roadside Assistance – Comedy Defensive Driving

Vehicle Repair Assistance – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Air Check Texas offers assistance if your vehicle is in need of repair to pass the annual emissions test. You may qualify for up to $600 in vehicle repair assistance from the Air Check Texas Drive a Clean Machine Program if you meet certain income requirements. In addition, your vehicle must also meet other criteria. It must have failed an emissions test within 30 days of applying, must have a current registration and has been registered in your county for at least 12 of the 15 months preceding your application, and has passed the safety portion of the DPS motor-safety and emissions inspection. And, it must be driven (not towed) to the inspection station.
If you meet this criteria, you will be eligible to receive a voucher worth up to $600 for emissions-related repairs or retrofits performed at a participating emissions repair facility.
And, it gets even better! You may also be eligible for vehicle replacement assistance. If you meet income requirements, and your car is at least 10 years old and runs, has a current registration and passed a safety inspection within 15 months of application. If you meet all of these requirements, you are eligible to receive a voucher for $3,000 for a car or truck no more than three years old, not to exceed the cost of $35,000. Or a $3,500 voucher towards the purchase of a hybrid vehicle up to three years old, not to exceed the cost of $45,000. There are also certain model requirements and it must have no more than 70,000 miles on it.
So, it’s nice to know there’s help out there in the Lone Star State. Other states may have similar programs. Check you state’s environmental commission or your state’s department of motor vehicles.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Vehicle Repair Assistance – Comedy Defensive Driving

Tailgating – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Tailgating is a verb with two meanings. Hosting or attending an informal gathering located at the back of a parked vehicle is one form of tailgating. One can also tailgate by driving too closely behind another vehicle. Either way, it’s all about “activity” going on behind a car. This could be your own little party, or the police having their own kind of party back there.
The tailgating issue has been on my mind since my daughter had her first accident a few months ago. She didn’t share all of the details with me, but I know that she rear ended another driver. I suppose it was to be expected since I was just bragging that she has been driving for 4-1/2 years and hadn’t gotten a ticket, nor had a wreck. So it’s my fault that the karma monkey tripped her up. Statistics show that one in every five new drivers has an accident within the first year of driving. And, although I believe that my daughter is a good, careful driver, she drives under the speed limit like a little old lady. Her biggest pet peeve is people who tailgate her. I noticed that she’s constantly complaining and watching them in her rearview mirror, rather than watching out for traffic in front of her. The back of her car is covered with bumper stickers. I tell her that perhaps she should consider changing them to ones with larger type so people don’t have to follow so close to read them. She’s not amused. So, I am assuming that is what caused her accident. Being fixated on who was too close behind her, rather than how close she was to the person ahead.
I believe now, with heavy traffic and road rage, people don’t usually even leave a car length between them and the car ahead. Not only because they refuse to allow anyone to merge, but also because people will just whip in between without a signal or warning, whatsoever. So, although you should leave a 3 second stopping distance between you and the car ahead (in dry weather), in heavy traffic, people will constantly merge in leaving little space in between and therefore causing you danger. In traffic, it’s difficult. But you may want to try it on a road trip. Just remember the three second rule. In wet weather conditions, double it to a six second rule. And, in icy or snowy weather conditions, triple it to a nine second rule.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Tailgating – Comedy Defensive Driving

Elderly Drivers – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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By the time my daughter has to worry about me driving past my prime, all cars will be driving themselves. That is comforting to me that she may be spared from giving me the talk. Most people my age have already had the talk with their elderly parents about when to turn in their keys. And we all come to the realization that seeing our parents lose their independence is a life changing and often devastating experience. After all, elderly drivers deserve dignity and respect.

State legislators have struggled to establish standards for determining when seniors should be kept off the road while being fair to elderly drivers who actually remain capable. The problem is, when we age, many things are compromised. Reaction time slows, confusion grows, quick decisions become more difficult and distractions have greater impact. Aging also causes vision problems that can interfere with driving. Cataracts (or, as my parents would call them “Cadillacs”) cloud vision and causes light sensitivity. Glaucoma raises pressure inside the eyeball, reducing peripheral vision. Macular degeneration causes loss of central portion vision, making it more difficult to see other cars or pedestrians coming toward you. The neck stiffens, making it difficult to turn the head and joints stiffen. Medications cause drowsiness and slow reaction time. And ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease (or “Old Timers” as my parents would say), diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and stroke limit the ability to drive.

Fatality rates for drivers begin to climb after age 65. And, from ages 75 to 84, the rate of about three deaths per 100 million miles driven is equal to the death rate of teenage drivers. For drivers 85 and older, the fatality rate shoots up to nearly four times higher than that for teens, according to a study done by the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers 85 and older are involved in three fatal crashes per day, according to federal crash statistics. And road safety analysts predict that by the year 2030, when all baby boomers like me are at least 65, we will be responsible for 25% of all fatal crashes. Preparing for this boom in elderly drivers has inspired the Texas Legislature (for one) to pass a measure that has lead to more frequent vision tests and behind the wheel exams for drivers 79 and older.

Receiving a license renewal in the mail is another problem. If elderly drivers are forced to appear at the motor vehicle office to renew their licenses, they will be required to pass road tests, etc., to see if physical ability or mental ability has diminished. Side impacts are considered an old person’s crash, while vehicle rollovers are considered a young person’s crash.

Some elderly will decide themselves that it’s time to hang up their keys for good. But, if they don’t, the burden rests on spouses, family members, doctors and police to request that a license be revoked. So now, mosts states require drivers 79 and older to appear in person for license renewals and subject them to mandatory vision tests and behind-the-wheel exams. And drivers 85 and older will be required to renew every two years.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Elderly Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving

Automobile Insurance – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime. And, with higher risk comes higher cost. While a large number of drivers are not insured, the rest of us are paying extra for under insured and uninsured motorist coverage. It is understandable that some drivers simply cannot afford automobile insurance. Some states have programs to help cover the high cost of insurance. Surely there is a qualification process, but it’s nice to know there’s help out there. Getting caught without liability insurance coverage is a serious violation, one that comes with strict penalties, ongoing surcharges and a permanent smudge on your driving record. In addition, high-risk drivers, especially DUI and DWI offenders must maintain an SR-22, which is also very pricey.

If you are paying a car loan, you must keep collision insurance until the car is paid off. Unfortunately, most people choose to change their coverage to liability only, once it is paid off to suit their budget. But, in the event of a collision, if you were at fault, your insurance would only pay for the other car’s repairs and not yours. There again, we’re looking at a higher cost issue. Paying for your own repairs or possibly having your car totaled, now you’re without wheels. You have to depend on rides, use the local transit system (if there is one available) and may lose income as a result. It could be a spiral downward, and just because you couldn’t or wouldn’t afford liability insurance.
Although you must have insurance, you don’t have to pay Neiman-Marcus prices for it. Most drivers are eligible for insurance discounts, and don’t even know it. You can receive benefits for merely driving safely or doing well in school. Apparently there are many things that determine your insurance rates. What you drive, your age, your gender, your zip code, your marital status, whether or not you own or rent your home, if you have any points or tickets on your driving record and even your credit score.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Automobile Insurance – Comedy Defensive Driving

Carjacking – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Carjacking is one of the fastest growing national crimes. Cars are currently more difficult to steal since many newer vehicles are now equipped with sophisticated anti-theft devices. So, apparently car thieves have turned to carjacking.
Here are ten precautions devised by the Texas Department of Public Safety that you can take to prevent being carjacked:
• Always check your rear view and side mirrors before exiting the car.
• When parking, choose a secured and well-lit parking lot or garage near heavy traffic.
• If possible, park at ground level to avoid the use of stairs and elevators.
• When returning home after dark, have someone turn on the outside light and meet you at the door.
• If pulling into the garage and you have the convenience of an electric garage door opener, keep your car doors locked until the door goes down.
• Always be cautious of surrounding obstructions and natural barriers where someone can hide.
• Never sit in your parked or stopped car while eating, sleeping, reading or applying makeup.
• Do not park next to suspicious vans, trucks or dumpsters.
• If approached by a stranger while in your car, drive off if possible or lean on your horn to attract attention.
• Do not open your vehicle door or window for any stranger.
Carjackers also may stage a minor accident, so if your car is bumped from behind and you don’t feel comfortable with the individual, drive to the nearest hospital, police or fire station for help. Or, better yet, call the police.
We purchased my daughter a new car before she graduated from high school so she would have not only the latest safety features (car crashes are the leading cause of teen deaths), but a new car is also less likely to break down. I also purchased her a nifty little self defense key chain on Amazon for under $3.00. According to the manufacturer, the Brutus is the only public safety bulldog key chain accessory that can be attached to keys or easily stowed away. Made of impact resistant ABS plastic, this key chain accessory is so strong it will give you the power of steel wrapped in a defenseless looking dog-shaped key chain accessory. Guard yourself against unwanted advances: put your fingers through the eyes of Brutus and watch the tips of his ears transform into pointed jabbers that will keep any attacker at bay. It’s not only cute, it’s effective.
So, please be safe.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Carjacking – Comedy Defensive Driving

Signaling – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Have you ever had someone point out your bad driving habits? I thought my driving skills were unsurpassed, until a friend pointed out that I hadn’t signaled the entire time they were in my car. Can it be true? Had I become a non-signaler like everyone else? There is certainly no excuse for why I stopped signaling. After all, I don’t typically sit in rush hour traffic. Those aren’t my hours. So, maybe since I have chosen a career that does not me to drive in peak traffic hours, perhaps at times there is no one to signal to. Or, perhaps I was just trying to save the life of the bulb so it lasts the life of the car. Because we all know that the bulb will cost under $5, but the labor is where they get you. Most auto parts stores will change the bulb for free. They will also change a battery, windshield wipers and do a free diagnostic test on your vehicle. That’s good to know when funds are tight.
Since I was called out for not signaling, I have become extremely self-conscious and now find myself over-signaling. I even turn on my signal before I pull into my own darned driveway. My neighbor’s son is policeman and also parks in front of her house. It would be just my luck that he would write me a ticket right here on my own street. And now that I am a reformed non-signaler, I notice that most people don’t bother to signal at all. And those that do use their signal, leave it on for eternity.
The law is, you must turn on your signal 100 feet before changing lanes or turning. That’s going to seem like quite a distance, unless you’re traveling at a high speed. A football field is 300 feet. They used to teach new drivers to count 2-3 car lengths or a house length. But we had big old boats for cars back then. Now there are minis and smart cars. Now, I hear, they teach students to measure from one utility pole to another. But with utilities now being buried under ground, that will soon be obsolete. Two semi-truck trailers (not the cab, but the trailers alone) would measure just a few inches under, or just a few inches over 100 feet. If you are still not quite sure of how to gauge 100 feet, just buy a tape measure at the dollar store. Or you can ask the guy with the restraining order. Surely he will know.

Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
(…you can see Daun Thompson live January 29 at Café Salsera in Dallas…or go to DaunThompson.com for show dates)

Signaling – Comedy Defensive Driving

Impatient Drivers – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Have you ever sat through two red lights because the car in front of you didn’t proceed when the light turned green? Sure, you could have honked at them when the light changed. After all, everyone else does it. And you, as well as many others, are sick and tired of those impatient cranks, honking at you when the light turns green. They don’t even give you enough time to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas pedal. It’s as if their horn is coordinated with the light. And you know their honking actually means “What are you waiting for, another shade of green, Lady?” I’ve heard that, in New York City, you start getting honked at when the cross traffic light turns yellow. Now that’s impatience at its finest! So there you are, the second car from the front, the light turns green and the person in front of you doesn’t proceed. But you refuse to honk at them. You just know that they are not paying attention. They’re probably texting or reading a message. But they’re bound to look up at any second and see that the light has turned green. Seconds click by like hours, but you still refuse to honk. You’re not going to be a jerk like the other impatient drivers. More time passes, and by now you are hoping that the person behind you will honk to get their attention. By then, the light turns yellow and your heart sinks. Now, the driver in front of you finally looks up, sees the yellow light and they floor it. Finally! So, now you can slowly move up and wait through a second red light. Yes, we have all experienced this scenario. This is likely the reason that people have become conditioned to just honking when the light turns green.
When you drive to work tomorrow, try to count how many traffic lights you cross on your commute. And, of those, how many are actually left turns where you may be waiting even longer? So, with the many different delays, even road construction, the best thing to do is to just not give in. Maintain your patience. You won’t get there any earlier and you may just live longer.If you get honked at, even when you did nothing wrong, chalk it up to someone else just having a bad day and move on.
Whatever you do on your commute, don’t get “honked” off.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Impatient Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving

Honking Your Car Horn – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Honking your car horn has an entirely different purpose than it did back in the early 1900’s when it was invented. I can see in the very near future, a car horn will be equipped with a variety of sounds that can be chosen, according to the mood of the driver. Perhaps you could choose a cow’s “moo” for someone driving too slowly. Much like a cattle drive, it could even play a gentle tune. Like Roy Roger’s 1940’s “Git along little dogies…” Or, for when someone is not paying attention when the light turns green, perhaps it can make a sound like someone clearing their throat. Don’t you think that humor is the best remedy for any tense situation? That’s why I like to use humor on dates. Like escaping out of the ladies room window on a first/last date (for me, the first date is always the last).
So, the horn was originally invented to warn others of a vehicle’s approach or presence. As in exiting an alley, where you will be crossing a sidewalk occupied by pedestrians. Or, honking to get someone’s attention when you feel that you may be in their blind spot. Because it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The horn is also to be used to call attention to some hazard. Generally, you should only honk the horn when reasonably necessary to insure safe driving. So, when is it unacceptable to use your horn? Well, according to my Dad, it is totally inappropriate for your “date” to honk when they pull into your driveway, rather than coming to the door. And, looking back, he probably didn’t come to the door because he was barefoot, which was also socially unacceptable to my dear old Dad. Or when your neighbor feels that they need to honk the horn at their kid to get a move on because they’re going to be late for school (ugh). Honking to scold or correct another driver’s mistakes is also unacceptable and could lead to a busted windshield or a keying to your car’s flawless paint finish. It is against the law to honk in some areas, such as hospital zones. To the British, the word “honking” means “to vomit.” The British are always spot-on.
Honestly, people are so impatient when the red light turns green. They don’t even give you time to take your foot off the brake and put it on the gas before they start honking at you. Like “What, are you waiting for, another shade of green?” I’ve been told that, in New York City, they start honking at you when the cross light turns yellow. Just to make sure that you’re paying attention. But texting, even when stopped at a red light in New York City is against the law. But not everyone abides by the law. I suppose that drivers have become conditioned to expect that most traffic doesn’t immediately move when the light turns green. We’ve all sat through two red lights because the person in front didn’t go when the light turned green. At least not until they looked up and realized that the light had already turned yellow. But too late for you. So you slowly pull up into the front lines, preparing yourself to sit through another red light.
So the horn is not to be used to “vent.” It is a communication device which should be used as such.
In designating a modified “Taxi of Tomorrow” in New York City, the Taxi and Limousine Commission decreed the taxi must have “a low-annoyance horn.” In addition, an interior light must flash when the button is pushed, in part to help police catch illegal honking. And there are different requirements in many countries. For instance, in some European countries, South Korea and Japan, horns are required to be at least 93 decibels. That’s more than a lawnmower engine (90 decibels) but less than a loud motorcycle (95 decibels), according to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders. And communication “disorder” it is. Perhaps the horn could even be deemed as communication “abuse.”
So lets lay off the horn, unless absolutely necessary. Cut everyone a break.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Honking Your Car Horn – Comedy Defensive Driving