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RESPECT YOUR ELDERS…THEN PASS THEM

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People love to poke fun at elderly drivers.From their sluggish driving speed to not being able to see over their own dashboard.And, well, both are a bit dangerous if you really think about it.

My parents are now about a decade past their prime retirement age. I was telling my sister how I had noticed that our parents, who have been married for over 50 years, are so terribly co-dependent that they even share reading glasses. Mom’s reading the paper in Dad’s big black framed Mister Magoo-looking glasses.She looks like a shop teacher in drag. My Dad’s reading a manual on spousal abuse.  He’s wearing my Mom’s pink cat-eye glasses. Yes, the ones with the rhinestones.And now, the two of them have become so out-of-control co-dependent that they’re also on the same medications to control their diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.And not just the same meds.The exact same dosage, too.My sister was like “Duh, Mom has cooked for both of them for 50 years…canned this and fried that…it’s not that surprising.”

So, with health issues looming, when is it time to persuade someone to turn in their keys?Since I am the adult child of an elderly driver, I realize that having a drivers license and being independent is a vital part of an elderly person’s life.Once that independence is taken away, it’s a sad existence for most elderly folks.To most, it’s a sensitive subject.But one’s major concern should be the safety of their elderly parent as well as the safety of others driving around them.My Mother confided in me that lately, my Father’s driving scares the crap out of her. That’s where the incontinent diapers comes in handy (too mean?).The latest incident, they were in a rental mini van in Florida, coming back from the dog track with two other couples from their retirement community.My Dad was following someone too close (that was her main gripe) and they hit a black bear. He didn’t see it and it totally messed up that mini van. But as he said “It’s a rental…who cares.” I’m sure all three couples had to go to Walgreens to get their blood pressure checked (too mean again??).

To help with the decision making, most states have added restrictions on elderly license renewals.And, while some seniors cause more accidents than others due to deteriorating physical and mental abilities, teenage drivers, who are less experienced cause just as many, if not more accidents. Inexperienced drivers have restrictions on them when they first start driving. In Texas, the restrictions lift after 6 months.So, some argue that restrictions based solely on age are discriminatory.

Some states require that a senior cannot renew their license by mail or internet.And most states require a more frequent renewal period for seniors. Texas requires renewal every two years for drivers age 85 or older, where regular renewal for all other drivers is six years.Some states are every 3 years for seniors.Generally, the renewal process requires a written test, road test, eye test, etc.Noting how many moving violations and/or crashes in a certain period of time would also come into play. AARP and other organizations offer driver safety programs for mature drivers, so there are programs out there.  Good to know. And some insurance companies allow discounts after defensive driving courses, so it’s a good idea to take one even if you don’t have a ticket…

Too bad you can’t use that senior citizen discount for a moving violation…that’d really come in handy.

Until next week…be sweet to old people…they’ve been driving longer than you have.

Daun Thompson

( Daun Thompson is a comedienne, writer and artist residing in Dallas )

PICK A LANE, JANE

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Lane courtesy is the practice of yielding to or moving over for faster moving traffic.Slower traffic should always keep to the right.It’s a very simple concept, people.

And, yes, there are benefits of lane courtesy… Besides that going to Heaven thing…

Blocking the left lane makes the roads less safe and less efficient for everyone. So, if you don’t block the left lane, you’re less likely to be in an accident. Traffic is able to flow more smoothly. And therefore, there is less tailgating, less aggressive weaving in and out of traffic and therefore, less road rage.Since there’s not a lot of play with the accelerator, you’ll get better gas mileage. Now, just look at all you have done for mankind by just getting over!

I like to believe that most people are typically courteous and well-mannered.But, once behind the wheel, behind tinted windows, where their identity is concealed, some people just act however the heck they want.With no regard for anyone else.For example, if you cut in front of someone on the road…oh well!If you did that in line at a fast food restaurant, you’d get your knot beaten in with the ketchup dispenser.

Here’s the basic concept of how the passing thing works:

An approaching driver in the left lane, when approaching, should turn on their left signal for a few seconds to let the slower vehicle ahead of them know that they would like them to move over so they can pass.The car in front should then turn on their right signal and merge to the right.If the slower driver ahead fails to respond to the left signal, the faster driver should briefly flash their headlights to catch their attention.Hopefully, the slower driver will get it and move over.Unfortunately, the flashing of the headlights now is considered a form of aggressive behavior and sometimes starts a road rage feud!Oh, yea, and don’t forget to wave “thanks”.Sometimes that alone causes road rage. Besides, waving just takes a second.Plus, they don’t know if you’re waving thanks with all five fingers or just one…through that tinted window…

There are a couple of websites devoted to this concept. One, slowertraffickeepright.com is dedicated to reducing traffic congestion through more efficient use of existing roads.Great concept, eh?Another is leftlanedrivers.org.Here, you can purchase some awesome front windshield decals which come in handy when approaching that slow driver in the left lane. I liked the ones with Slow Traffic and Move Over… both with an arrow pointing to their right when viewed in their rearview mirror.  I’m ordering mine as soon as I finish this blog.

So, please practice lane courtesy when you drive. Lane courtesy is also an awesome topic of conversation at cocktail parties. Let people know why you think it’s important. Educate them. And these courtesies are not limited to the left lane. Be more respectful of people at red lights. Don’t just hang out in the right lane if you don’t intend on taking a right on red, or do not have business to take care of within the right corner of that intersection. Say please and thank you and eat all of your peas…

Daun Thompson

( Daun Thompson is a comedienne, artist and writer who resides in the grand metropolis of Dallas, Texas )

Practicing Safe-Pet

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In addition to pet safety in this summer heat, how about securing your pet for safety’s sake?A very nice Veterinary Technician and I were having a conversation about putting dogs in the back of pickup trucks.I asked her which was more acceptable?Loose or collared.Neither, she said.Loose, the dog could fall out or jump out and then you have a mess of cars trying to avoid running over the dog.Collared, it could hang itself if it slipped over the bed of the truck.This opened into a discussion about a recent incident at her animal clinic.A client of the clinic had taken her large family dog, along with her two small children on an errand.Her two children were both secured in the back seat of the car in their booster seats.The family dog, sitting between them, was not secured.There was an accident on the freeway, where the car she was driving rear-ended another car…doing about 60mph.The family dog, which was not secured in the backseat, critically wounded both of her children during the accident.The dog did not survive the crash.

How very shocking.That story shook me like a bad dream.Time to make some changes in my life.Before she told me that story, I used to take my dog everywhere with me.Not secured.Riding on the console between the seats…of all places!I recall, many times, throwing my arm in front of him to keep him from becoming a hood ornament when someone would pull out in front of me.Like my mom used to do back in the 60’s.Heck!She still does it and she’s 74.I attribute that to my flat chest.My Dad used to call her “The Seatbelt”.Now he calls her “The Airbag” (they have an interesting relationship).Looking back, how stupid was that?Only one hand on the wheel, while trying to avoid an accident.What’s even whackier than that, I used to let him sit on my lap while I was driving the car.Sometimes I’d even let him pretend to drive.And, I gotta tell you, he’s a much better driver than I am. There’s no argument there.But how dumb was that?Looking back, if someone would have pulled out in front of me and I hit them, my airbag which comes out at 300 p.s.i., would have killed that little dog between the steering wheel and my chest. And, at 300 lbs of pressure, that little dog’s body likely would have crushed my chest and killed me.

Like everyone else, I take my dog with me in the car because he’s like a member of the family.Not for one moment did I think that, without securing my little cute-head-fred, I could have killed him or one of us could have been killed by his little missile of a body because he wasn’t secured in the car.So I did what any responsible pet owner would do.I went right down to the pet store and bought him a harness.To describe it, I would say it looks like something Madonna would wear on stage.Well, everything but the “cones”.The cones would just drag on the ground anyway.And, the only color they had in his size was neon pink.I thought maybe he’d be humiliated by the color since he’s a boy.But then I remembered, oh yea.He’s color blind.No biggie.Too bad my neighbor Vernon isn’t color blind as well…he chuckles every time he sees us now…me and my pink collared boy dog.By the way, I read somewhere that of all color blind people, 66% of them are men.Hmmm…and all dogs are color blind.Does that mean 2/3 of all men are dogs???You already know the answer to that.

And another tidbit…don’t leave your dog in the car when you slip into 7-11. Temperatures are way too hot.Dogs can’t handle it.You think you’re doing to slip in there for 2 minutes to grab a gallon of milk.And someone invariably writes a check…you know they will…then you’re in there for 45 minutes.Who the hell writes checks anymore???And, if you think you’ll just leave the car running with the a/c on…think again.It’s a $325 fine for leaving your car running while unattended.Even if it’s locked.

Until next week…practice Safe-Pet (did that come out sounding very wrong??).

Daun Thompson

(Daun Thompson is a comedienne, writer, artist and pet lover… Just not in that way)

You Drink, You Drive, You Dumb

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When I moved to Texas in the late 70’s, everybody in the car could have an open container…even the driver.I thought you’d get a ticket if you didn’t drink and drive in Texas.Or, at the very least, you’d be called a pussy (by the cops).Being from out of state, I had the impression that Texas was all hippy-dippy and liberal…like California.Total misconception!I had moved to the Bible Belt (they call it that because it’s located just below the distended belly of Oklahoma).At the time, there were Blue Laws.You couldn’t buy certain things on Sundays.Like alcohol and paper products.You could buy all of the baby food you wanted, but not diapers (that’s a recipe for disaster, right there).And no beer??Sundays are made for Michelob (wasn’t that the ad?).

Open Container means anything with the seal cracked. The Open Container Law has evolved quite a bit since the late 70’s.For a while there, you could have an open container in the vehicle with you, as long as it wasn’t within reach of the driver. But they had to change it again.There were too many soccer moms who would chuck the bottle into the back of the mini van when they were being pulled over by the cops.Which would be fine if you didn’t konk the kids in the head who are sitting back there.Soccer moms just ruin it for everybody…thanks a lot soccer moms!The new Open Container Law?The open container must be kept in the trunk of the car.Or, in a locked glove compartment or a locked console.Perhaps a small bottle of booze will fit in there.And it must be locked in there…you can’t trust yourself.Anything that won’t fit…just put it in the trunk…and get yourself a really long straw (just kidding).I stole that from my boyfriend.Who also says the open container fine is $500…Littering fine, about $250.“That’s a no brainer…I’m chucking it out the window of the car and saving myself about $250” (he’s a math genius).If your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk, you must put the container behind the last seat.And be sure to secure it.You don’t want to be the crying drunk.

I still see a few good ole boys out there on the freeway in rush hour traffic, putting one down.Long day, hard work (maybe weekends and week days are made for Michelob??)Having a cold one on the way home.What harm can one beer do…? Just ask that cop…he’s right behind you (psych). As I said before, we’ve come a long way.Texas now has a three strikes and you’re out policy.Although the first and second convictions for DWI carry stiff penalties, community service, some jail time, and mandatory AA meeting attendance (I hear they don’t serve drinks at those meetings… it’s b.y.o.b.).This does not include your attorney fees, which are astronomical.Your third conviction for DWI is a felony and comes with a nice black and white jumpsuit.The cruel part is…the stripes go the wrong way…not slimming whatsover.

A DWI is both financially and emotionally devastating.A real set-back.And that mistake remains on your driving record for many, many years.Not worth it.Call a friend, call a cab or, heck, call your Lawyer…you may need him.

Until next week.Be safe.Drive smart.

Daun Thompson

( Daun Thompson is a comedienne, artist and writer residing in the Big D )

The Information Super Highway

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We have come a long way since our automobiles just took us from point A to point B or a cellular phone just made phone calls, now both can do so much more.Come to think of it, when was the last time you heard a car referred to as an “automobile?”Grandpa’s drunken stories of when he lost his virginity in the back of a Studebaker and those images can send you to therapy.

The information super highway in this day and age is all too real for drivers everywhere.Back in the day we had to rely on maps and directions given to us by half nitwits who had no idea what they were talking about, kinda like the writer of this blog.Now with GPS, a nice un-sexy half female, half robot voice tells you where and when to turn.You can even ask your car where’s the nearest pizza joint to your current location.Now if your car can tell you where that cop shooting radar is hiding, then we will have made progress!

All this information can be very useful but when is it too much?It seems like no one is “right here, right now” anymore.We are off into cyberspace, living life bi-curiously through our Facebook and Twitter profiles, projecting to the world what we think our lives should be rather than what they really are.Our future generations will not have to know the concept of north, south, east and west, because GPS systems will tell them where to go, OK, maybe not to that extreme!

I think progress is a good thing but all I’m saying is, every now and then pull off the information super highway and take the scenic route, stop and smell the litter off the road.Appreciate your gift of life because we are only here for a short time, live in the here and now and put away your cell phone/life line and drive.

Join me again next week and until then…

Take care and be safe-

Danny Keaton

Driving in the Bible belt or another reason for traffic school

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As I drive around Dallas, I can’t help but notice there are a lot of churches, no big surprise, right? Dallas is part of the Bible belt and in Texas we love our football, guns and Jesus! Not necessarily in that order and according to a recent survey by Auto Vantage, Dallas is number 2 in the nation when it comes to road rage. I’m not trying to be cynical about religion and I believe in a higher power. I think it is great that some people have a spiritual foundation but what happens to that “Golden Rule” and “love thy neighbor” thing when we get behind the wheel of our car? I now a Bible beater’s rebuttal would go something like this;

“We are only human and we are not perfect and you’re going to burn in a lake of fire!!!”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing religion, either. All I’m suggesting is that we need that little light that shines to carry it with us in our cars. That way the next time some asshole cuts us off, we won’t shoot him the finger or just plain shoot him!

And with the holiday season upon us and everyone trying to get here and there, be a little friendlier out on the roads. It takes an extra second to let someone in. Turn on your signal before you turn or change lanes. Give a friendly wave when someone lets you into traffic. Don’t cut off an 18-wheeler, it takes truckers over four times the distance to stop than a regular vehicle. And no sex while driving!

Remember, a world without road rage starts with you, if someone is tailgating you, ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?” He would probably get pissed off too and send them to hell!

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season. Join me again next week and until then…

Take care and be safe-

Danny Keaton

Happy Holidays: the most dangerous time of the year

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OK, so Thanksgiving is over and Christmas/Hanukkah/Ashura/Kwanzaa is just around the corner. If a road trip is in the plans for your holiday make sure you are prepared for the round.

First of all you want to make sure you get plenty of rest before your road trip. Many spur of the moment road trips to Vegas happen after a night of partyin’and that can be fun but a trip to Gram Gram’s house in Oklahoma with no rest can suck. Besides just driving through Oklahoma is enough to put you to sleep behind the wheel.

Many truck drivers have claimed that chewing sunflower seeds are a favorite among the truckers to help keep them awake, well…that and crystal meth. Stay away from energy drinks such as Red Bulls, Monster and Cocaine (yeah there’s a drink sold at convenience stores called cocaine!) What’s next, headache relief tablets called “Blow-job?” Remember, what goes up, must come down and those caffeine crashes can be really bad and taking barbiturates to help level you out is not a solution to that problem.

Once every two hours or hundred miles, pull over somewhere and take a couple of minutes to walk around the car, get your blood circulating again. It goes without saying, be careful where you pull over. Biker Road House parking lots, “No-tell” motels and rest areas in Louisiana on I-10 are probably not a good idea to let Gram Gram wonder around. Switch out drivers and talk to your passengers, if you’re driving by yourself, talk to yourself. And I don’t care what anyone says; there is nothing wrong with answering yourself.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and I wish everyone a safe holiday and happy 2011 and be sure to check underneath that hood, make sure your belts and hoses are in tack. Don’t forget those tires and “Gram Gram’s” medical marijuana stash.

Join me again next week and until then…

Take care and be safe-

Danny Keaton

Thanksgiving for speeding tickets

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Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner!!!

You know the song;

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

With drunk Uncle Ned

And Cousin Ed coming out of the closet

And saying he’s queer! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!”

Yes, the holidays are here and with that comes the TURKEY, YEAH!!!! I love holiday meals that someone else took the time to cook and I get to reap the rewards! But remember boys and girls, turkey contains an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan that can cause drowsiness more than listening to Uncle Rick’s boring fishing stories. But truth be told, some nerdy scientific experts say that tryptophan would have to be ingested on an empty stomach and with no other amino acids in order to make you sleepy. It’s actually the fat contents of Grandma’s cooking, alcohol and over-eating which makes your fat ass tired.

But this isn’t a lecture on nutritional contents and dysfunctional families; this blog is to inform you on the dangers of fatigue driving in America. Did you know, according to the National Sleep Foundation, over 100,000 auto accidents are the result of fatigued driving in the U.S. every year? I don’t know what’s more surprising, that alarming fact or the fact that “sleep” has its own foundation! Some states such as Texas, New Jersey and Florida have included fatigue driving under their DUI laws. Driving safety experts say that a drowsy driver is just as dangerous as a drunk driver.

Now I can understand if you are ready to get the hell of out of your parent’s house after the holiday meal, because you are reminded of why you wanted to move out in the first place. But make sure you are mentally alert for the drive back to your home, hotel or nearest bar. Besides, after the family get-together, I’m sure you’ll have plenty to talk about on the way home with your other passengers.

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season. Remember to have a designated driver when drinking alcohol and don’t drive under the influence of fatigue!

Join me again next week and until then…

Take Care and Be Safe-

Danny Keaton

Bumper stickers, they are everywhere!

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Bumper stickers, they are everywhere; almost every other car you see out on the road has at least one. These adhesive documents tell the outside world your political views, religious views and your stance on the abortion issue or maybe just your favorite radio station or football team.

The family mini-van has the stick figures of the whole family and if there is a guy driving that mini-van his balls are probably in a holder around the rear view mirror. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the family.

The single guy has a diver flag sticker on his Jeep to impress the chicks, even though he might not know how to swim.

One time I saw a sticker that said “Honk if you love Jesus” so I honked and the lady in the other car shot me the finger! That wasn’t supposed to happen!

And check this out, they also have “WI-FI detection” bumper stickers! You put it on your window and it lets you know when you have a Wi-Fi signal. I would think it would work better on your dash but hey, you’re trying to look cool so put it on your back window so everyone can see it.

But one thing I also noticed when noticing all these bumper stickers is that I wasn’t paying attention to the road! Bumper stickers are major distractions for drivers across the country. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, 80 % of crashes and 65% of near-crashes are caused by some form of driver distractions and yes that includes drivers trying to read bumper stickers! One of my favorites is, “If you can read this, you are too close” and next thing you know, BAM, you hit the person in front of you! If you must share a clever extract make sure it only contains a short sentence like “Obey Gravity, It’s the Law.” Anything more than one sentence can be a distraction, besides who would remember all that anyway?

If you have any comments or suggestions, please send them in. Join me again next week and until then…

Take Care and Be Safe-

Danny Keaton

Defensive driving: 3 ways to prevent road rage!!!!

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I was at the red light waiting to make a left turn, the light turns green and 1 second later the minivan behind me lays on their horn! WTH?! I was releasing my foot off the clutch and moving forward just as the asswipe behind me starts honking and what made matters worse, he’s in a minivan! If I had a minivan I wouldn’t want to draw attention to myself!

So in an attempt to piss off my roadway foe evening more, I did what my girlfriend calls “passive-aggressive” behavior, I stopped in the middle of the intersection and waited for the light to turn yellow. It wasn’t enough to keep him from continuing through the intersection but enough I’m sure to make him even angrier! So there…I won, or did I?

I’m going to tell you 3 simple methods that will prevent 90% of the road rage you could be involved in. The other 10 percent, well just like that ass-clown that was honking his horn, you can’t get by all of them. That’s what guns are for.

1. Always use your blinkers before you turn or change lanes. Now I understand sometimes you don’t want to waste that blinker fluid that is so expensive! (Sarcasm: there is no such thing as blinker fluid) The law in most states require you to turn on your signal at LEAST 100 feet before you turn or change lanes. And if you can guess the distance of 100 feet as you are traveling, all the more power to you!

2. Don’t tailgate! If you are a tailgater you are asking for trouble mister or madam, damn it!! Always keep a good following distance between you and the car ahead. 2 to 3 seconds in good weather.

3. Stay out of the left lane on the highway or freeway, unless you are passing another vehicle. This in itself is a major cause of road rage and it should be! Some people think, “Well I’m going the speed limit, they can go around!” NO, you self-righteous sack-of-sh#%!!! The left lane is for passing only! Even if you are already speeding, if someone wants to go faster, let them!

Making these three things part of your driving habits can reduce your chances of being in a road rage situation. As for that incident at the intersection, I wasn’t the winner. As a matter of fact, I was the asshole for letting myself descend to his level. Maybe I could have gotten out of my Jeep and punched his lights out (and hoped he didn’t have a gun) but then what would that prove? Besides the person driving that minivan was a woman.

Join me again next week and until then…

Take care and be safe-

Danny Keaton