Returning Student Login

A Wrong Way Driver

Posted on:

January marked the first death in Texas due to a wrong way driver. Every driver knows that road reflectors on the highway at night will reflect a silvery white. If you’re going the wrong way on the highway at night, they will reflect red, meaning that you are going the wrong way! Trust me, you don’t want to be a wrong way driver. And if you are, that first time could be your last. I mean, you may not live to tell stories about it at a party. Not only will paying attention save the lives of others, it may also save your own life and the lives of your passengers. And, trust me here too, no one will EVER ride with you again EVER (did I already say EVER?). So, pay close attention to road signs and never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking alcohol, because there’s no right way to be a wrong way driver. Be safe. Drive smart.

While relatively rare (wrong way collisions accounted for only 3 % of crashes on high-speed divided highways in recent years), they typically result in fatalities. And the driver in error is typically intoxicated in about 60% of these crashes. Of course, older disoriented drivers cause these accidents as well. But even as law enforcement agencies are fighting this problem, highway officials in many states say the sometimes pricey technology can be another tool to save lives. After all, what exactly is a “life” worth? Spike strips when entering the exit ramps, lowering warning signs and even lighting those signs with flashing hazard lights are just a few tools. Intoxicated drivers tend to look downward at the roadway directly ahead of them. Installing the flashing warning signs on the roadway to let other drivers know that someone is entering the wrong way is another brilliant effort, as alerting other drivers is just as important as trying to stop the wrong way driver, right?

Also, the TxDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) Be Safe Drive Smart is a year-long public education and awareness effort aimed at saving lives and reducing crashes. The umbrella campaign covers all aspects of safe driving with a special focus on traffic safety in the state’s energy sectors, work zones and along the I-35 corridor, specifically. TxDOT’s goal is to make drivers aware of their own unsafe driving habits. It is said that big cities with dense populations and high numbers of vehicles per capita experience the worst crashes due to wrong-way drivers. By virtue of physics, two vehicles colliding at high speeds is often catastrophic. Many of these accidents happen late at night or the wee morning hours. So, avoiding being on the road during those hours will possibly help the rest of us. Now we also have ride-share companies that are of reasonable cost. So there is no excuse to drive drunk, impaired, distracted or disoriented. Again, what’s a life worth?

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

A Wrong Way Driver – Comedy Defensive Driving School

What’s the Difference Between DUI and DWI?

Posted on:

Penalties for driving with alcohol in your system vary from state to state. In some states, they call it a DUI, which means Driving Under the Influence of anything (drugs or alcohol). However, Texas law has both DWI and DUI. The differences are small, but knowing them can help you greatly.
 

What’s a DWI?

 
According to Texas Law, a DWI means Driving While Intoxicated (having a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 or above, at any age). This means .08 milliliters of alcohol to 100 milliliters of blood. If you are a commercial driver in Texas, your BAC level must be below .04.
 
For a first time DWI offense, fines may be imposed of up to $2,000, a jail sentence between 3 and 180 days, a loss of driver license up to a year, and an annual surcharge of $1000 to $2000 for 3 years to retain your driver license.
 
While the first two DWI convictions are a misdemeanor, the third DWI is an automatic felony, along with the possibility of up to 10 years of prison time and a $10,000 fine.
 

What’s a DUI?

 
A DUI in Texas covers several things. A DUI could mean Driving Under the Influence of alcohol (at 21 or older, legal drinking age). So, below a .08 BAC, but still possibly tipsy or impaired, causing slow reflexes, where you could injure yourself or someone else.
 
A Texas DUI also covers underage drinking (someone under the age of 21). Any trace of alcohol in their system would result in a DUI since Texas has a zero tolerance law for underage drinkers.
 
But, a person under the age of 21 can still be charged with a DWI, as long as the driver has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. A DUI could also cover drugs (a DUID), and some drugs are much more impairing than alcohol.
 
A DUI could land you with a Class C Misdemeanor charge on your record and could still result in you being arrested. Penalties that go along with a DUI include up to 40 hours of community service, alcohol counseling classes, a suspended license of up to 60 days, and a possible $500.
 

Other Alcohol Related Crimes

 
If you have an open container of alcohol in your vehicle this could result in up to 6 days in jail, and a Class B Misdemeanor on your record. Even if you are parked and completely sober, you could still face a $500 fine and a Class C Misdemeanor.
 
Are you a minor? Any interaction you have with alcohol could get you up to 180 days with a suspended license. Even if you fail in an attempt to purchase alcohol could get you at least 30 days without a license.
 

Zodiac Signs and Driving Habits

Posted on:

A study conducted by car insurance company Priviledge shows that your zodiac sign may be attributed to your driving habits. Of course, you can’t blame your speeding ticket on your zodiac sign (nice try, though). Here’s the list they compiled for zodiac signs and driving habits. See what your zodiac sign says about your bad (or good) driving habits.

CAPRICORN (DEC 22 – JAN 19)
Capricorns tend to drive slower than other drivers. You’ll hardly find a Capricorn speeding. This sounds backwards to me since Capricorns also tend to be the least green of drivers, and speeding burns more (wastes more) fuel.

AQUARIUS (JAN 20 – FEB 18)
Aquarians tend to struggle with their driving test and rarely pass it on the first attempt. They are said to hardly ever be a designated driver, probably because they’re embarrassed by the appearance of their car. Aquarians typically own the dirtiest cars and they prefer a crazy car color (like mid-life crisis yellow).

PISCES (FEB 19 – MAR 20)
Kudos to this water sign which boasts not only the cleanest cars, but also the most expensive. I would attempt to make fun of that somehow, but what’s the point? If you’re going to drop a lot of money on a car, why not keep it perty?

ARIES (MAR 21 – APR 19)
Aries are said to be the rudest of all drivers. They tend to drive flashy cars and are most likely to have those cars stolen because they often leave the car unlocked with the keys in it. Or maybe it’s all just bad karma for being rude.

TAURUS (APR 20 – May 20)
Taurus are apparently the worst drivers of all and are said to also be the worst parkers (but then, that could be said for most of us…unless we’re talking about parking on a date…in which case, I think most of us would be totally offended).

GEMINI (MAY 21 – JUN 20)
Gemini tend to remain calm and cool in a pinch. They tend to pass their driving tests the first go and often end up being everyone’s designated driver.

CANCER (JUN 21 – JUL 22)
Cancers tend to be the best parkers (really?) And I suppose there is nothing more to say…(how about best kisser?)

LEO (JUL 23 – AUG 22)
These lions tend to be speed demons. They are always great at taking their driving test and usually pass it the first time…in a big hurry.

VIRGO (AUG 23 – SEP 22)
Virgos tend to be eco conscious and are practical in that regard when purchasing a car. They tend to enjoy driving more than most people do.

LIBRA (SEP 23 – OCT 22)
Libra tend to be among the top road ragers. But they are eco friendly much like Virgos. So they probably won’t chase someone for long, for fear that they will waste fuel and pollute the environment.

SCORPIO (OCT 23 – NOV 21)
Here we go! Scorpios are said to be the best drivers of all. Perhaps they’re more patient and take their driving skills more seriously? They are also rarely concerned about their car’s appearance.

SAGGITTARIUS (NOV 22 – DEC 21)
The most polite drivers on the road, Saggittarians almost always lock, hide and take their belongings when leaving their car. So, they’d be the least likely to have their car stolen or broken into.

Take what you will from this. I, for one, find it a load of amusing horse manure.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Zodiac Signs and Driving Habits

Male v.s. Female Drivers

Posted on:

It has been an ongoing argument since the caveman invented the wheel (or was it Fred Flintstone?) that men are better drivers than women. Or are they? Statistically, more men die in car crashes than women. But, statistically, men drive more than women. My own personal observation regarding male v.s. female drivers is that men are more confident in their driving skills. That’s not saying that they’re better drivers than women, but when asked if they consider themselves good drivers they always say yes (without hesitation). Women don’t brag about their driving skills and typically answer with a simple “I’m just okay.” Of course skill is an important factor, along with maturity and responsibility.

Of both genders, a majority of men don’t wear safety belts. Statistically, men drink and drive more than women. They tend to tailgate more and are or aggressive drivers. And men typically drive faster than women and take more risks. That is why the Department of Motor Vehicles warns that testosterone fueled male drivers are risky business, making their insurance higher than females since they stand a much higher chance of getting in an accident. Owning sports cars or muscle cars are also costly to insure. So, while vehicular fatalities and insurance rates are higher for males, women are said to still make a lot more mistakes behind the wheel causing fender benders, but not necessarily fatalities.

Although the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety claims that teenage girls are twice as likely as teenage boys to engage in texting or talking on the phone while driving, scientists say that men get distracted more easily than women.

Perhaps with seat belt laws, air bags and newer safety technology in cars, we won’t even be having this “who’s the better driver” conversation. Especially when all cars are self-driving.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Male v.s. Female Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving School

Road Rage

Posted on:

Now that the holidays are over, we can get back to being our old, angry selves. How many of us have thought “Let’s just cut the phony business and stop being the nice, caring and giving individuals that we portrayed ourselves to be throughout the holiday season.” Who cares about other people’s feelings? I have feelings of my own to deal with. I noticed that the temporary “niceness” even filtered into driving courtesies until approximately January 1st. As if going back to work wasn’t a big enough let-down, drivers are back to their old cranky road rage selves.

Road rage is the leading cause for accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 94% of all traffic accidents are caused by driver error. And, of those accidents, 33% could be linked to behaviors typically assigned to road rage, such as illegal maneuvering or misjudging the intent of another driver. I have asked students in my Comedy Defensive Driving class why everyone seems to be in a big hurry. Most, like me, say they don’t manage their time well. And I could benefit from taking my own advice, but leaving for the big commute earlier will not only save you stress, but will also save you money by not having to pay extra to use costly express lanes. Being in a big rush when others don’t seem to inevitably causes us to tailgate. There are unlimited triggers for causing road rage. Some are typical and obvious. I thought I’d compile a list of the top eight. Perhaps you can add to this list and look for these triggers in your own commute to try to be a kinder, more patient driver.

• Tailgating
• Cutting other people off
• Not signaling before changing lanes or turning
• Not yielding
• Blocking drivers from changing lanes
• Passing on the shoulder
• Talking or texting while driving
• Driving in someone’s blind spot

Sometimes being in a road rage situation is unavoidable. But your best bet is to try to pay attention and not offend other drivers. Be courteous and don’t change lanes unless you have room to. Don’t follow too close and don’t hog the passing lane (the left lane). And hand gestures warrant a good butt-whoopin’.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Road Rage – Comedy Defensive Driving

Home Made Winter Car Care

Posted on:

Winter weather conditions up north are unbearable. With a wind chill of twenty degrees below zero, I feel like a jerk for complaining about how chilly it is here in North Texas. At this point, a Florida trip sounds like the best solution. My sister Karla lives in Sarasota and boasted that she was spending her birthday on the beach at Anna Maria Island, while my eighty year old mother is house-bound in the frigid Midwest. Now who sounds like the jerk? Of course the road conditions are the major factor, but she also has to prepare her car for winter driving, which she is totally dreading. We get a few little “freak” winter storms here in the south and are never equipped for them (they call it denial). So, what if I don’t have those things on hand when these storms roll in? I certainly don’t have a snow shovel, ice scraper, rock salt or kitty litter. So I’ve recently put together a way to make my own home made winter car care kit.

I garage my car when I’m home. But when it’s out in the elements, sitting in freezing rain and snow, I find that the inside windows fog up, while they’re frosted outside. Filling something breathable like knit socks or knit mittens with silica crystals (the blue and white kitty litter crystals) and placing them in the car will absorb moisture in the air for days. Putting them on the dashboard will automatically defog the windows. And, putting them in your spouse’s underwear drawer….never mind…

And, a major annoyance is when the car doors freeze shut. Doors ice up because moisture gets on rubber window seal. Any brand of cooking spray (like Pam, etc.) can be used to create a barrier and a lubricant. Spray it on the seam, wipe off excess with a paper towel (and not with the bottom of your shoe). And…voila!

No ice scraper? Or, if you’ve ever self-plowed snow off your windshield with a credit card while the wind is cutting you in half, put a towel over the windshield when you park. A giant beach towel is perfect. When you need to go, just remove it. It may a bit stiff, but bring a big lawn and leaf bag to put it in.

No rock salt? Use a bucket of hot water, dish soap and just a splash of rubbing alcohol. Mix it all together and you have your very own deicer fluid (or “cocktails” for when you run out of booze at a holiday party…or is that just my friends who will drink just about anything when they run out of booze?) You can then pour it on your porch and the sidewalk to your car.

Until next week…drive safe

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Home Made Winter Car Care – Comedy Defensive Driving

How to Drive In Winter Weather

Posted on:

Happy New Year! I just completed a 1500 mile trip, crammed in a cargo van with 9 other people. It just goes to show, some of us will do just about anything to ski Colorado. It took a bit longer to get to our destination because everyone drives the speed limit there (or under the limit). Since they legalized marijuana in Colorado, it is likely that the police aren’t issuing as many speeding tickets. They’re probably writing more tickets for people driving too slowly, or for sitting too long at a stop sign, waiting for it to turn green. We checked the weather report before leaving north Texas to know in advance what the road conditions were going to be like. Now, there’s one job where you can almost always be wrong and still get paid…the Weather Man. I’m starting to think that being a Meteorologist is akin to having an “arts” degree. Road conditions were said to be snowy and icy through the Wolf Creek Pass, so we purchased tire chains along the way. Of course, we never used them. There were signs as we approached the Pass regarding laws requiring tire chains. If you’re from that area, you would already be well versed on these laws. But, as my fellow passengers and I observed, most license plates were out of state. In fact, we saw a few from Florida. I think it’s safe to bet that most visitors (including us) probably have no clue how to drive in winter weather.

Sometimes, when road conditions are that bad, it’s best to just stay home. But, if you paid thousands of dollars for a ski package and the coolest AirBnB cabin house right on the Rio Grande, pushing through the elements to get there will make you risk everything. I mean, I’m not complaining. It’s not as dramatic as Mariah Carey being without hot tea in Times Square on New Years Eve, right? So, here is a list of safety measures to take when traveling in winter road conditions.

• Snow tires help, but if you don’t need them where you reside, then they may be a costly investment.
• Turn on your lights, even in the daytime. Just an extra measure so you will be seen.
• Drive smoothly in the tire tracks of other vehicles. Stay in the right lane.
• Leave extra space around your car, away from other vehicles.
• Carry extra winter clothing and blankets.
• Keep your cell phone charged (I have two cordless chargers that I forgot to bring with me).
• Try to keep your gas tank full. Fueling stations may be far and few between.
• Give someone your route information and keep them updated where you are.
• Keep wipers clean and wiper fluid and antifreeze topped up. Keep a snow scraper handy.
• Keep a snow shovel and a small bag of kitty litter in your trunk (also makes a good Christmas gift).

And, most importantly, be patient and keep your speed at the maximum.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

How to Drive In Winter Weather – Comedy Defensive Driving

A Patient Driver

Posted on:

Happy Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Winter Solstice…Happy Everything!! I went up to the post office yesterday to mail out my Christmas cards and stolen goods (because they say the best things in life are free…that’s why I shop lift). And you know what I miss? They used to have a bulletin board at the post office with pictures of wanted felons. Now that bulletin board displays pictures of neighborhood people in the military, with a giant banner “Thanks for serving our country,” which is awesome, but I miss those pictures of wanted felons. That’s how I’d find old boyfriends. I’m told that the felon pictures are now displayed at Wal-Mart. Or maybe that’s the Employee of the Month bulletin board. I always get the two confused. The New Year is just a week away. And, like most people, I am considering my New Year resolutions. One of them is “No Lying.” Nah, that’s not even one of them…help me, I can’t stop! I’m actually still working on my list. But I do plan to put forth more effort to be a patient driver.

Lately, I find myself muttering the word “idiot” a lot when I am driving. No more of that business! And, I am going to learn to manage my time better, plan ahead for traffic and leave earlier. Basically, I will need to stop dawdling (or, as my friends call it, “Daun”dling). Time management alone will likely save me hundreds in toll bills, since I won’t be relying on costly express lanes to get me there on time. I don’t even have the stomach to look at how much I spent this year in tolls. After the holiday cheer ends, next comes tax season. I will wait until then to look at that expense. Why ruin my holiday spirit?

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

A Patient Driver – Comedy Defensive Driving

What is Highway Hypnosis?

Posted on:

Highway hypnosis is a trance-like state where drivers will respond to road traffic without any memory of having done so.

 

The term first appeared around 1921 as “road hypnotism”. Later analyses changed the term to “highway hypnosis,” made popular by an article from Griffith Williams in 1963. According to experts, this condition is another extension of “automaticity,” where people can perform complex tasks without thinking about them at all (writing, knitting, etc.).

 

Highway hypnosis is theorized to occur because driving can be dull. Many recorded occasions of highway hypnosis occur on open stretches of road. In these places, the only thing to look at may be the long, unending stripes separating lanes on the road. This can lead to a form of highway hypnosis.

 

Also, we tend to drive when we’re sleepy. According to The National Sleep Foundation, at least 1 in 4 Americans drive drowsy a few days a month. This greatly increases the chance of highway hypnosis.

 

Other names for highway hypnosis include white line fever and driving without attention mode (DWAM).

 

How to Prevent Highway Hypnosis

Highway hypnosis puts you and others in serious risk. This condition is too close to actually falling asleep at the wheel, which accounts for almost 1,000 deaths in 2014 alone.

 

Drinking coffee can only help so much. If you are suffering highway hypnosis regularly, help break the cycle with the following:

 

Drive during the day

According to researchers at UCLA, sunlight releases hypocretin, which helps you stay awake. Try to keep your driving relegated to daylight hours to get the most hypocretin into your system.

 

Pull over and walk around

Contrary to what anyone may say, getting there is not as important as your safety. If you find yourself nodding off, pull off the road as soon as you can and get out of your car.

 

Walk around a gas station, an open field, or whatever is around. Physical activity can get the blood pumping, which can improve your energy levels.

 

Get enough sleep

If you sleep more when you’re not driving, then you’ll be less sleepy when you’re driving. It’s common sense, but sometimes you just need a reminder.

Posted in Driving Tips | Comments Off on What is Highway Hypnosis?

Plan a Sober Ride

Posted on:

Honestly, the only way you can get me into an ugly Christmas sweater is after I’ve had a few drinks. Probably half of the things we agree to participate in during the holidays involve alcohol (or, are alcohol induced). Just saying “egg nog” out loud makes me nauseous. But, egg nog with rum, now that sounds okay. And fruit cake will never be okay. Petrified, unnaturally colored bits of fruit, even when hidden in one of my favorite things, “cake” reminds me of nursing homes and moth balls. In fact, I’d prefer to eat moth balls over fruit cake. Sometimes celebrating holidays with close friends and family makes us do or try things we normally wouldn’t do. Drinking and driving is unfortunately one of those things. Take the time to plan a sober ride.

There are many resources available year-round to help you to get home safe. Soberrides.org has a variety of resources available on their website including:
• Call a cab
• Rideshare
• Facebook
• Twitter
• Local Transit
The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day sees a dramatic increase in DUI offenses and other alcohol-related issues. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Call a cab, share a ride or secure a designated driver to change these trends. Planning ahead for a sober ride home will also allow you to let loose and have fun. Don’t wait until after you start drinking to plan your ride.

And, if you know someone who is planning to drive drunk, take their keys and tell them that you will only give them back if they eat an entire fruitcake and wash it down with a gallon of egg nog.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Plan a Sober Ride – Comedy Defensive Driving