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School Zones –

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If you’re completely awake when you’re driving to work (or school) tomorrow, you may notice that those yellow lights are flashing again in school zones. People will be rushing their kiddos to their academic prisons before the last bell rings. Kids will be running across the streets, and not always at the crosswalks. And police will be watching for drivers not paying attention. No cell phone use and no speeding will be your new rule for the next ten months. So, put down the cell phones, take your foot off the gas, and enjoy the 20mph trip through those school zones. Your phone and your car probably need a break anyway. And it’s a good time to relax and enjoy moving at a slow pace for a few minutes because the rest of your work day is going to be very hectic.

And don’t forget those school buses, hauling those screaming kids to their final destination. That’s one job I wouldn’t want, being a school bus driver. And don’t forget the rules there! Never pass a school bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is out. Now, I’m sure those bus drivers tell those kids (at least the ones that they like, anyway) to go to the crosswalk and cross. But kids never listen. That’s why school zones are 20mph! If you were going any slower, you’d be in reverse! And, if you’re on the opposite side of the median, going the opposite direction, you must stop if your side is separated from the bus’ side of the road by a painted line or a divided median. A hefty fine that will surely bankrupt any ideas of affording to send your own kids to that private school you have been dreaming of.

Now, it’s the end of your busy day. You’ve put in your time at work and now it’s time to get home and relax. But wait! You’re going to be passing through some of those school zones yet again. So, ease back, do your 20mph, dinner can wait. You’ll get home just in time to eat, watch the news, go to bed, and get up tomorrow morning and go through the same routine.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

School Zones – Comedy Defensive Driving School


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With schools opening back up for business between August 27th and September 2nd, I will see a fair share of school zone violations in my defensive driving class very soon. Remember to pay attention and look out for kids in school zones. I will see violations such as speeding through an active school zone, not buckling up little ones and, of course, talking on a cell phone. This time of year, I may even see what I like to call the double-whammy. Speeding and talking on a cell phone, simultaneously. I think that’s what they call multi-tasking. But, be forewarned, both carry high penalties. I have a friend who got cited for the double-whammy, while he was talking to me (of all people) on the cell phone. He said “Hey, I’m being pulled over because I’m speeding through a school zone.” I told him “You should hang up the phone, Goober, or they’ll give you a ticket for that, too.” And this part made me laugh, “Should I tell him I’m on the phone with you?” “Right, like I’m a world famous defensive driving instructor…like he’d know me.” “Don’t give some cop my name…I don’t need him writing my name down in his book.” I see a lot of teachers getting pulled over in their own school zones. And I’m sure the students and faculty tease them until the day they retire. When I was a kid, our school mascot was actually hit by a car in front of our school. Luckily, he escaped with minor injuries. The name of my school was Lincoln High. Our mascot would wear a stovepipe hat and would sit for hours, slumped over in a theater chair. He was a great little method actor.
They’re also really cracking down on children not being properly restrained in the car. Parents may be fully aware of these laws and may comply. But what about the car pool driver? The ones that don’t know the laws because they have no children of their own. You know…the childless, happy people. They need to be educated as well. Laws vary by state, but in Texas a child must remain in a booster seat until their 8th birthday or until they reach 4′-9″, whichever comes first. And, everyone in the car must be wearing a seat belt. The driver would get the ticket for any child under 17 who is not buckled up in their car. And the fine is higher for each additional unbuckled passenger. There goes your Disney vacation money. So, if your kids resist the buckle-up, just use duct tape. It comes in all kinds of bright, kid-friendly colors now. When I was a kid, safety was an option. People didn’t have to wear seat belts until 1986. We had seat belts in the car, but they were conveniently tucked down in the seat. My mom’s arm was our seat belt. And now it’s just a habit with her…she’ll knock the wind out of you. My dad used to call my mom “The Seat Belt.” Now he calls her “The Air Bag.”  Nice, eh?

Until next week…keep those little ones safe…pay attention and look out for kids, because they’re not looking out for you.

Daun Thompson

Look Out For Kids – Comedy Defensive Driving


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Just a few more weeks and kids are going back to school. I remember when I was a kid. Summer breaks were longer. And when it was time to go back to school, my mom would take us school shopping and buy us all new clothes and school supplies. That way she would trick us into being excited about going back to school. The truth is, I fell for it every time. And it wouldn’t hit me until about halfway through the first period, when I’d find myself wondering why the word school isn’t a four-letter word? With schools being open for business and child safety, those good old school zone laws will be in effect. So, remember, look out for kids…they’ll dart right out in front of you. When I was a kid, there were no school zones, we didn’t have to wear seat belts and we didn’t have to be restrained in a car seat either. These days, there are big fines imposed for these types of violations. We weren’t as important as kids are today. Especially the private school kids. Those kids are really special. They even have seat belts in their school buses.
Be sure to observe the school zone hours which are posted. If you see a police officer writing someone a ticket in the school zone and you are going to be passing in the lane right next to them, slow down even more for their safety, so you don’t find yourself getting a ticket or having to take a defensive driving class in Texas, and look out for kids darting across the street. No talking on the phone, texting your BFF or playing your Gameboy while you’re driving through a school zone.

Don’t let anything or anyone distract you. And, when you see a stopped school bus with it’s alternating red flashing lights on, make sure you know what to do. If the bus is on the opposite side of the road, going the opposite direction, and there is a true, solid median dividing the road (one with grass, gravel, trees or cement…with no split or divide in that median), you do not have to stop for the bus. The only time you must stop for the bus on the other side is if there is a split or divide in that median (where you can turn in or out from), or if there is no median at all (i.e. there is just a painted line separating the road). The fine on that side of the road, at least here in Texas, is currently running around $768. And, if the bus is stopped on your side of the road, in the same scenario, you have to stop behind the bus. I have been told that the fine for not stopping for a bus on your side of the road, again, here in Texas, is currently running around $1500. They call it “overtaking a school bus.” The new school buses I have seen now have a camera attached to the bus, directly behind the stop sign that pops out by the bus driver. So now they’ve got you on film and don’t just have to take the bus driver’s word for it. And you don’t want to be in that Kodak moment.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson

Look Out For Kids – Comedy Defensive Driving


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With schools re-opening within the next few weeks…just a friendly reminder…look out!

Between school zone laws and passing a school bus with its alternating red lights flashing, you could find yourself facing some stiff penalties once school has started.Remember when you were a kid?Summer’s coming to an end.Your Mother takes you school shopping.How exciting was that??Then, the first day of school comes.You have all of your shiny new school supplies and those new pony fur hot pants you just couldn’t live without (o.k…those were a really bad idea).And about a half hour into the first day back, you’re like “Sh*t!She tricked me again.I hate school!!”

I remember my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten.We’d skipped daycare and preschool because she had a nanny at home.So she wasn’t used to the conventional school happenings.When I picked her up that first half day, I asked her “So how was your first day of Kindergarten?”She said “I guess it was o.k.But I got in really big trouble.”“Why? What did you do?”“I don’t know, but they made me take a nap.”I also, with some coaxing on her part, admitted that I was, indeed, the tooth fairy.“Wow! You can fly???” was her unexpected response.

I told her how, when I was her age, my sisters and I would walk to school every day.She said “Why? Didn’t your parents love you??”I guess she had a good point.Now, if you allow your kids to walk anywhere without adult supervision, they may just get supervised by your friendly neighborhood predator.

So, remember, school zones are 20mph, even though in other states this speed varies.Yes, we all know, if you were going any slower, you’d be in reverse.But little ones will dart out right in front of you.They can’t be responsible for their own actions.The law takes child safety very seriously.And, in most cities, active school zones are hands-free.Meaning no hand-held devices.Both are sizeable fines.And most people get the double whammy because they were distracted by the cellphone and missed the flashing school zone light.Another thing to remember, school buses transporting kids to and from school make frequent stops to load and unload those little brats (that’s what the bus drivers call them…why can’t I??).When the bus driver turns on those alternating flashing lights, you must stop behind the bus.Not doing so is considered “Overtaking a School Bus” and is a sizeable fine.If you are on the opposite side of the street, going the opposite direction and there is a true median (grass, gravel, trees, cement or grassy knoll with a president buried there) separating your side from where the bus is, you do not have to stop for the bus.Although, you do have to stop for that bus if there is a divide in that median, or if there is only a painted line separating your side from the side where the bus is.

If you’re taking other people’s kiddos to school, you must have all children under the age of 5 years old or under 4’9” in a booster seat and all other kids must be seat belted.Thank God for that.Because, I don’t care what you say…kids are a major distraction.When I was a kid, we didn’t have cell phones or GPS and crap like that.The biggest distraction in the car when I was a kid…was kids!My Mom would have one hand on the wheel and the other just swinging away at us in the back seat.There is one advantage to taking other people’s kids to school though. You can get on the H.O.V. lane and use the kid as the second passenger.Brilliant?I think so.You may have just found your commuting partner.And it may just get you to work faster.

Until next week…watch out for kiddos.

Daun Thompson

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

IXNAY ON THE TEXTNAY or Texting While Driving

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The Fourth of July is right around the corner…and Rick Perry lights the first fuse…

If things had gone as planned, the Texas state law banning texting while drivingwould have gone into effect this September 1.Although it is a city ordinance in several Texas cities such as San Antonio, El Paso and Austin (our lovely capital and home of Rick Perry…a.k.a. Mr. Vetoe).On June 17, Governor Rick Perry vetoed the legislature’s plan to ban text messaging for all drivers. This would have been a Texas state law.

The ban on texting while driving has been a city ordinance in Austin since June of 2009.I’m not likely the only person who thought that, if our capital city was on-board with it, that was a pretty good indication that this would become a state law in a short matter of time. We were wrong!Apparently slick Rick cited that House Bill 242 was a “government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”Texas already bans texting by teens. The bill would have extended that ban to all drivers. Perry says that he does recommend additional education on this issue in driving safety and driver’s education courses and public service ads.

The amended bill would have prohibited a driver from reading, writing or sending a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is stopped.Opponents said drivers would be penalized for simply receiving a text message while behind the wheel.  Do this…next time you stop at a red light, look over at all of the cars in the other lanes.  You’ll notice that nearly everyone is looking down…finishing a text at the red light.  Darned multi-taskers!

Currently, it is a state law prohibiting use of a handheld electronic device or texting in an active school zone. There are exceptions for emergency situations, though.Like, if you hit a kid jay-walking in a school zone.You’ll need to use your cell phone to call 911 to let them know that “the car behind you just hit a kid in a school zone”. (Please, don’t take me seriously on this one…)

I, for one, don’t text and drive.Not because I’m smart enough not to.I’m just not coordinated enough.I’ve tried it.And I could totally take out families.My 15 year old daughter can text and not even look at her phone while she’s texting.She can sit at the kitchen table, look me right in the eyes while we’re having a converstion…the whole time she’s texting under the table.She calls it multi-tasking…I call it grounded…I think it’s just rude.

It is a Federal law that Commercial Drivers(truck drivers) cannot text while driving.And, if they get caught, the fine is just under $2k.Plus no one will ever hire them again. Fair enough, a semi truck is a huge piece of machinery…you could totally take out families with.  What ever happened to good old CB Radios?  And Smokey and the Bandit??  And Jim Stafford and Jerry Reed songs?  You know, people used to park while playing those 8-Tracks.

By the way…T-Mobile is probably throwing a party somewhere…if anyone wants to go…

Until next time…

Daun Thompson

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