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Child Car Seats – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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There is much more focus on child safety than there was when I was a kid. We weren’t required to wear seat belts until 1986. Prior to that, safety was an “option” and my Mother’s arm was our seat belt. Now, we are even beginning to see seat belts in school buses. Here are a few of the most current issues regarding child car seats in vehicles.

There is no question that a properly installed car seat can prevent serious injuries to a child and perhaps even save a life. But, studies have shown that the amount of time your child spends in that car seat can cause long-term health issues such as cancer and hormone disruption because most car seats still contain dangerous chemicals. And, just when we thought they were completely safe!

Due to an outdated law from the 1960’s when more people smoked, car upholstering began to be made with flame retardant fabrics. In 1981 kid seats adopted these standards. And most child safety seats today have these dangerous chemicals that can be harmful, even fatal to a child, over time. There are petitions you can find online to help stop these flame retardant chemicals from remaining standard in car seats.

Also, when it comes to child safety in vehicles, a recent crash test shows that, when a child is wearing a heavy winter coat, it may feel like they are strapped snugly into their car seat when, actually, the straps are dangerously loose. Experts say you should always strap your child securely into their car seat without their coat on. Instead of putting the coat on the child, put the coat over them. Or you can even use a blanket. When strapping a child into a car seat, there should be a nice, tight fit of the harness to the child’s body. You should not be able to pinch any webbing up at the shoulder area. And the harness clip (the clip across the chest) should be at armpit level. As for the coat, the same applies to adults. Never wear a heavy coat under a seat belt.

As new child safety standards evolve, we will keep you up to date. After all, you can never be too safe when it comes to your mini me.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Child Car Seats – Comedy Defensive Driving

An Unattended Car – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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It is so crazy cold outside that many of us are warming up our cars in the driveway before we head out to drop the kids at school and/or drive to work. After all, we don’t want to put an infant in a freezing car seat now, do we? So we leave the keys in the ignition and oftentimes the doors unlocked. Apparently automobile thieves are scouring neighborhoods, looking for that little puff of exhaust fog coming out of the car’s tail pipe. And, those crooks move in fast. Some say they only left the car running for a minute. And now they have your car and the keys to your home! We all know that you should never leave an unattended car running (unless, of course, there’s a body in the trunk that you need to dispose of, and someone to pin the blame on).

My parents live in a small town in the Midwest. They’re very cavalier about leaving their car parked in the driveway with their keys in the ignition and the windows down. Incidentally, they always know where to find their keys. I live in a large city where we would never even dream of leaving the keys in the ignition. Or would we? I do recall, in the past, running to the 7-11 to get milk. I left my dog in the car with it running and the air kicked on high, but the doors were locked. I thought I would only be in there for a minute, but someone wrote a check and I was in there forever! Who the heck writes checks anymore?

That’s why it is against the law to leave an unattended car running. If it is stolen, thieves will take crazy risks in it, damaging other property and putting other people in harm’s way. Police may be dispatched to chase down the crooks, putting their lives in danger and damaging their own vehicles in the pursuit. So, it just makes sense why not only leaving the car running, but just leaving your keys in the ignition are both against the law. And insurance companies may not cover any damages to your vehicle and the property that your vehicle damages in the pursuit.

Most cars come with a keyless remote for this reason. If someone does try to drive away in your car, unless the put the key into the ignition, it will stall when put into gear. If you have an older model car that does not have this feature, just save yourself some grief by never leaving your car running while it is unattended. Again, in the end, it may cost you more than just your car.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

An Unattended Car – Comedy Defensive Driving

Drowsy Driving – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Have you ever been on a road trip and you’re about 20 miles from your destination, but you’re so sleepy that you can barely keep your eyes open? And you know that you should pull off the road, get out of the car and walk around a bit. Maybe get something to drink and some fresh air, but you just keep on driving? “It’s only 20 miles! I can make it.” Seconds later, as your car is leaving the pavement, you are jolted awake “Yikes! How long was I asleep?” Even if you get plenty of rest before you start out on that road trip, you can only endure so many hours before your brain kicks into “screen saver” mode. Most state laws consider that drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving and there are strict penalties. Much like intoxication, sleepiness slows down reaction time while it also decreases awareness and impairs judgment.

According to the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), fatigued driving or drowsy driving is the principal cause of up to 100,000 vehicle crashes every year. Reports say at least 1,500 people are killed and injuring 71,000! While these numbers are staggering, there are yet more numbers of fatigue-related crashed that go unreported.

But these are primarily passenger vehicle crashes. Less than 1% of all sleep-related crashes involve truckers. Currently, Federal laws are in place, prohibiting truckers to drive more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period. My Grandfather was a trucker who spent his career hauling fuel cross-country. Back then, truckers could for drive for days without sleep. And, in those days, people thought that drinking coffee, or taking over the counter meds would keep them awake. It was also common to take illegal drugs such as Amphetamines to keep awake. But we all know that what goes up must eventually come down. It’s true that truckers would get what they called “white line fever” (a song by Merle Haggard, R.I.P., sniff…). But now I’m thinking that white line fever must have had two meanings.

Here is a list compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of the top 10 things you can do to avoid falling asleep at the wheel:
1. If you feel sleepy, stop driving. Pull over, get out and get a beverage.
2. If you get a caffeinated beverage, since it takes about 30 minutes to kick-in, take a nap.
3. Get plenty of sleep the night before your trip (6 hours or more).
4. Don’t leave for a long road trip right after work.
5. Drive during the hours that you are normally awake and stay in a hotel at your normal bedtime.
6. If you are planning to drive straight through, take a nap between midnight and dawn.
7. Avoid carbohydrates since they make you drowsy. Protein enriched foods and beverages are best.
8. Forget the cold and allergy meds or any meds that may make you drowsy.
9. Have a passenger in the front seat to talk to.
10. Pull over every two hours or every 100 miles. Even if you don’t feel like you need to. It’ll give you, your passengers and your car a break. And try to only drive 300-400 miles per day.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Drowsy Driving – Comedy Defensive Driving School

Seniors Driving Longer – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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One of the most dreaded issues that we face as adults is how to tell our aging parents they can no longer drive. Once an elderly person’s independence is taken away, it’s usually a downward spiral. I personally don’t enjoy driving, so this won’t be an issue for me when I reach that point in life. Besides, cars are already driving themselves. And even now, there are very inexpensive modes of transportation like Uber and Lyft. But, the number of 70+ year old drivers on the road today is enough to turn your hair grey (or white). According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the number of 70+ drivers in the U.S. is projected to increase from 30.1 million in 2013 to 53.7 million by 2030. I will be in that group…(yikes). In fact, I have decided to change my age to “yikes” (like how Prince changed his name to a symbol). So, the problem is that nearly 90% of drivers that are 65+ suffer from health issues that may affect their ability to drive safely. By this late age, one wouldn’t expect to be shopping for a new vehicle, but with the latest safety features and new technologies it would certainly be safer for them. Safety systems are increasingly being added to cars, which warn drivers of impending danger and in some cases, will take action to avert it. While driving that big old heavy steel car may “feel” safe, it’s certainly not safe for others around them. And, while one may feel comfortable with the fit of that older car, it may no longer be a good fit as our bodies shrink with age (osteoporosis). I am a whopping 5’ 2” now. So, all I have to look forward to, with old age, is getting even shorter. Perhaps considering the new safety features in vehicles being manufactured today can keep seniors driving longer.
AAA breaks down the vehicle features that can help older drivers into three categories: safety, ergonomics and comfort.
Safety features have had the most advances in technology that can keep senior drivers secure.
• Driver Assist uses cameras and sensors to warn a driver of impending danger. Some systems take action, such as steering and braking to avoid a crash. Even less expensive cars have these features now.
• Lane Departure Warning senses when a driver has drifted out of their lane and alerts the driver. Again, some will have automatic steering assist to steer the car back into its lane.
• Adaptive headlights illuminate the road ahead while going around turns.
• Automatic Crash Notification (such as OnStar). This can also help in a health emergency.
• Automatic High Beams
• Blind Spot Warning
• Automatic Emergency Braking
Ergonomics and Comfort features such as adjustable steering wheels, adjustable pedals and multi-position heated and cooled power seats with memory can help reduce fatigue and discomfort.
It’s good to know that both AARP and AAA offer driving resources for seniors. And, in a few years, I too will be seeking those resources when my age is “yikes.”

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Seniors Driving Longer – Comedy Defensive Driving School

States Void of a Texting Ban – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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When I was a kid, the biggest distraction in our car was the radio (and us kids). My mom (a.k.a. Old Yeller) would drive with one hand, while the other arm was just swinging-away at us in the back seat. Her swinging arm was like Popeye’s, and her driving arm was atrophied (like a bone with skin on it). It’s true…we were terrible kids, so she’d leave us in the hot car for hours while she went into the grocery store. Currently, a parent goes to jail for leaving a kid in a hot car (I like to think it’s because kids are much more important now than they were when I was a kid). We didn’t have cell phones, GPS or DVD’s in the car then. These seem to be the biggest distractions now. So why is there no texting ban in Texas? There is no doubt whatsoever that texting while driving is very dangerous. But Texas still remains one of the only four states void of a texting ban (Texas, Montana, Arizona and Missouri).

Texas lawmakers are planning once again to introduce a bill banning texting and driving statewide. But will it become a law? Every two years, the Texas Legislature returns in January to re-visit this issue. So, if a bill does pass, we may have a law that will go into effect in September. But, apparently, there is already some republican opposition. They argue that a law would infringe on the individual freedoms of adult drivers. So, what about the freedoms of innocent drivers that are injured and killed by those distracted adult drivers? They also argue that a statewide law would not make a difference regarding the safety of drivers, which is in direct contradiction to data provided by the TXDOT, which reported more than 100,000 car accidents caused by distracted drivers in 2015 alone. That’s a staggering number. Yet, folks are skeptical that it will pass during the upcoming 85th legislative session.

So this Texan will follow closely to keep you informed. In the meantime, if you are a Texan, perhaps it is comforting to know that we do have over 90 cities that currently ban texting while driving. Also, drivers under the age of 18, commercial vehicle drivers (including bus drivers) and all drivers in activated school zones are banned from texting.

Statistics show that one out of 4 car accidents are a result of texting while driving. And, texting while driving is six times more likely to crash than drunk drivers. So if you’re drinking “and” texting … yikes!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
States Void of a Texting Ban – Comedy Defensive Driving School

Future Drivers – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Will the young kids of today ever have to drive a car in the future? I tell young drivers in my Comedy Defensive Driving School classroom that, in the very near future they will probably be telling their grandchildren “I remember when I was your age and I had to take a defensive driving class.” And their grand kids will say “What was a defensive driving class, Grandpa?” And the Grandparent will say “It was just a big waste of time, because cars are driving themselves now.” Are self-driving cars close to making a teenager’s rite of passage a thing of the past? What will become of future drivers? I remember when I was a teenager, chomping at the bit to get my learners permit and then my driver license. That is the first step to becoming an adult and being independent of your parents. Our kids of today may not have that experience. Self driving cars are already hitting the streets. Google is doing it, but has had a few setbacks in rolling out their self-driving Uber car. The first roll out was in San Francisco, but the California Department of Motor Vehicles put a stop to it, claiming that “It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit.” Tesla has also featured the auto-pilot mode. And now a robotics expert is saying what many people have been thinking for a while. Kids of today may never have to drive a car. Henrik Christensen of the University of California, San Diego says fully autonomous cars are ten to fifteen years out. Some auto makers like Ford and GM say they’ll have self-driving cars on the road in five years. Many people speculate that car ownership in general will become a thing of the past.
It will be interesting how this all affects the economy and the environment. Most city residents do not have a license to drive since it costs more to rent a parking space than it does your apartment rent in most large cities. And cities have better public transportation, which now includes Uber and Lyft. So, city folk typically don’t learn how to drive, perhaps this is what we will see in our future, everywhere.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Future Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving School

Self-Driving Vehicle – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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My eight year old Niece was absolutely obsessed with the new Tesla showcased at the mall this weekend. When I told her that it is a self-driving vehicle, she looked at me like “you’re just messing with me, right?” The same look she gave me at her Grandfather’s funeral when I told her that Grandpa was in that little wooden box on the table next to his picture. Regardless, she said that she is putting this car on her “life goals” list (meaning her bucket list). It’s funny that an eight year old should already have a bucket list. I believe when I was her age, my greatest goal was marrying my Barbie to Ken. She and her six year old sister thought it was funny that the display car was plugged in and charging like a toy waiting to be played with. She asked why it even has a steering wheel if it drives itself, which is a fair question. The Tesla manufacturer claims that it has full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. All you need to do is get in the car and tell it where you want to go. It’s like a cab driver, only without the tip. If you don’t tell the car where to go, it will look at your calendar and take you to the assumed destination. It calculates the optimal route and navigates there. When you arrive at your destination, you simply get out and the car will enter “park seek mode” and automatically search a parking space and park itself. When you’re ready, a simple tap on your phone will summon the car back to pick you up. It’s kind of like the Lone Ranger’s horse, Trigger, only without the messy clean up. Cool, eh?

So, how does this work? Satellites, baby. Plus, there are eight surround cameras which provide 360 degrees of visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. And, forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength that is able to see through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead. It’s all pretty amazing, if you really think about it. And, if an eight year old is impressed by a self-driving car, imagine how blown-away the older generation must be!

Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Self-Driving Vehicle – Comedy Defensive Driving

A Kinder Driver in 2017 – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Here we go again! Another year has come to an end. And, with that, a new year begins, bringing hope and a fresh new start to be the person that you really want to be. Becoming a kinder, gentler person (like Cat Stevens, only without the guitar). This New Years Eve, on my resolution list, among the many habit changes and the monetary growth, I will vow to be a kinder driver in 2017. I will no longer be that impatient jerk that snarls at every inexperienced teen and slow, elderly driver on the roadway. I will leave for work a bit earlier than usual so that I am never running late, which will be good both for my blood pressure and it will be good for my soul. I believe that better time management and better route planning will be the solution. This will inevitably reduce many of my bad driving habits like tailgating and speeding. So, it will also work toward my monetary growth resolution, saving me money on fuel and those hefty traffic citations and defensive driving classes (which take six hours of my time, and time is money).
I ended 2016 with a better GPS app. So I have already gotten off to a good start for 2017. My daughter has been away from home for three years now. I always used her as my direct link to modern technology. Kids always know what the latest, best apps are. So, when I need information, I ask the teen drivers in my Comedy Defensive Driving class. Prior to downloading the WAZE app, I had an outdated GPS app that did not give me optional routes and did not give me the option of “no tolls.” So, whenever I used it, it would try to route me onto any nearby “paying” toll way. WAZE is a free app (owned by Google) and the app alerts you about any issues on the road ahead, such as objects in the road, police alert, accidents, traffic and cars broken down https://www.waze.com
This will help immensely, added to my time management implementation. And commuting in 2017 should be a breeze, not only for me but also for other drivers around me.
Until next week…have a safe and happy New Years Eve.

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Holiday Car Safety Tips – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Christmas is the time for giving! The Salvation Army’s bell ringer is almost “pavlovian” to our ears, reminding us that it is better to give than to receive. It also should remind us that not everyone is fortunate enough to afford buying gifts. And desperate times call for desperate measures. During busy holiday shopping, cars left in parking lots can become treasure troves for thieves. Keep your purchases out of sight. Here are a few holiday car safety tips to help you to get through your season with all of your gifts and to keep your “joy” intact.
• Lock shopping bags in the trunk. If you don’t have a trunk, use a cargo cover or even a dark blanket. Cover everything before you drive to the next shopping location.
• If you have expensive purchases like big-ticket items, or if you have completed your shopping list, drop your gifts off at home. Taking a few extra minutes to do so may save you hours of laboring away at your job to make enough money to purchase those gifts all over again.
• Use compartments that keep things out of sight, like your glove compartment or console. If they are lockable, lock them.
• Use the valet parking service whenever available. This is convenient in so many ways. Plus, it will ensure that there are no shopping cart dings and safer for you than parking far away from the shopping entrance. It is also good to have a valet key handy.
• Use your remote door lock. This also serves to minimize chances of someone jumping in the passenger side.
• Use your back-up cameras and mirrors when parking. But don’t make the mistake of only using your back-up camera. Get a full picture of what is around your car, like stray shopping carts and stray kids.
• Try to back into parking spaces so it is more difficult for someone to open your hatch-back. This also makes it easier to exit in heavy holiday traffic.
• Keep your phone in your hand so you can call for help if you need it. And keep your keys in the other hand, with the sharpest, longest, most pointy key secured between your fingers to jab anyone that may try to snag your bags. Or carry mace on your key fob.
Again, desperate times call for desperate measures. If you have it to give, please visit one of the following websites to donate what you can so that other, less fortunate people can enjoy Christmas too.

support.woundedwarriorproject.org/Donate
donate.cancer.org/‎
www.stjude.org/
inspiredgifts.unicefusa.org/Children/Donation

Until next week…Have a Happy and Safe Holiday!
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Holiday Car Safety Tips – Comedy Defensive Driving

Winter Road Conditions – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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I grew up in the Midwest where winters were brutal. But when you’re a kid, none of that matters. We would ice skate on a frozen pond, smack dab in the middle of a creepy old cemetery. And we wouldn’t come home until our fingers and toes were nearly frostbitten. I remember that “pins and needles” tingly feeling while the near-frozen blood in my digits was warming back up. And the mildewed smell of my wet, snow-packed socks. So close to frozen that one could break in half if dropped on the floor. Walking to school, then lining your socks up next to everyone else’s on the old style heat register so they would thaw out (yum). Now that I’m an adult, I prefer to view the whole “Winter Wonderland” thing from my Mother’s window, as I watch my own kiddo making an igloo (which, to this day, she can still not pronounce). Begging me to come out and play in the snow with her. “No way (I say), I’ve done my time.” I suppose some people who grow up in harsh winter conditions embrace it and become avid skiers and snowboarders. They build impressive snowmen and buy snowmobiles and hunt for bigfoot. And they learn to drive in those winter road conditions as well.
But, in the Midwest, they’re equipped for winter road conditions. They have trucks that dump salt on the roads to melt the snow and sand to give the icey roads some grip. Although I dread getting out in it, I have no choice when I have to drive somewhere. And I have found that the best way to survive a skid on a snowy road is to avoid getting in one. Teaching new drivers how to recover from a skid is impossible when done textbook-style. The only way to learn how to remain in control when you’re driving on snow and ice-plagued highways requires that those skills are learned behind the wheel. There’s no other way of learning how to cope. If you can’t avoid a skid and your car starts sliding or spinning (that’s fun…ugh), and you’re not already an expert, nothing anyone can teach you will help you out. But here are a few tips on how to gain that training and experience to reduce the chances of a crash.
Just stay home. If the roads are really that bad, it’s just not worth it. Being late for work because you crashed is just pointless. If you absolutely must drive in those conditions, though, get yourself a good set of snow tires. And, get all four tires. Don’t be cheap. Having snow tires only on the front will only cause you to spin out. Electronic stability control helps. As does all-wheel drive (although it offers no miracles). Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) also helps in this situation.
And, where you live is a factor. So just suck it up and move south, my friend. Then you won’t have to worry about it.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Winter Road Conditions – Comedy Defensive Driving