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Uncommon Driving Safety Tips –

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They can only cover so much information in a driver education course. So I have compiled a short list of uncommon driving safety tips that may help in the long run to help prevent accidents and possibly save a life or two.

Don’t have your own car visible in your side mirrors. This is a common mistake that drivers make. You should always angle them away from you until the point where your car is no longer visible in either side mirror. This way there is no overlap between your side mirrors and the rear view mirror, and any car that is passing you on either side will remain in at least one of your side mirrors until it enters your field of vision. Professional drivers lean into their console and adjust their rear view and side mirrors at one time to cover any blind spots. If you don’t have a rear window, this is especially helpful, especially if you have a white serial killer van with no windows.

Pay attention to traffic before road signs. While road signs indicate when to yield, stop, etc. and who has the right of way, paying attention to traffic will certainly help to avoid an accident. This doesn’t mean that you should ignore stop signs or road signs, but that you shouldn’t rely on them and should always follow traffic and use your best judgement. You may be obeying the signs but there are others out there who won’t.

Always leave your headlights on. Because something lit up is always more visible (like your Uncle John at every Christmas party). Studies show that you can reduce your risk of being involved in an accident by up to 32 percent by driving with your headlights on at all times. But, if you are trying to save the life of the bulbs so they last the life of the car, at least use your headlights whenever there is inclement weather and always when you are on a high-speed roadway.

Use your parking brake/emergency brake when parking, even if not parked on a hill. It’s kind of a use it or lose it deal. So, just to keep it in good working order, try to put it on whenever you park. Getting into this habit may also save property and lives. Anton Yelchin’s family has suffered as the result of him not using his emergency brake. Don’t be another statistic.

If you blow out a tire, don’t slam on the brakes. Although this may be instinctual, applying the gas slightly and gripping the wheel as not to steer against the blown tire will avoid a fishtail. Do this until you can regain control until you can take your foot off the gas and let the car slow down on its own, naturally. And then you can change your pants. You should always carry a spare pair of pants along with your spare tire. And try to steer off the road on the same side as the blown tire, not against it. Don’t make sudden corrections and don’t try to re-enter the roadway on uneven pavement.

If you pull onto the freeway shoulder, never use your hazard lights because drunk drivers are attracted to flashing lights. Just like blonds being attracted to shiny objects. Rather, you should put on your signal light as if you are planning to re-enter the freeway (even if you’re not). Because approaching vehicles will expect that you may pull out in their lane and move over a lane for their safety (which in turn is safer for you).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Uncommon Driving Safety Tips – Comedy Defensive Driving

Seat Belts Save Lives –

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While it’s kind of mean to say that people that don’t wear a seat belt must have a death wish and that perhaps those who refuse to wear one is (to those of us who do wear them) another form of natural selection, studies show that seat belts save lives. And, they not only save the lives of those who wear them, but the lives of others riding in the vehicle. Most people who don’t wear them admit that it’s because the seat belt is uncomfortable and will wrinkle their outfit. Not like going through the windshield won’t wrinkle their outfit and their head, etc.

If those non-wearers want scientific evidence, perhaps explaining how kinetic energy works in an impact and damage to soft tissue and bones at a high impact can oftentimes kill you, even with all of the crazy new safety features in cars. At a slower speed, wearing a seat belt will, at the very least, keep you in your seat where you can still control and maneuver your vehicle, rather than attempting to do it from the passenger seat or back seat where you may end up. At a higher speed, the faster you go, the more kinetic energy you and the vehicle possess. When you hit the brakes or your car comes to an abrupt stop, all this kinetic energy has to go somewhere. A small portion is released as heat (like tire friction) while most of it goes into “reshaping” your car when it hits the oncoming car (which is also reshaped into a lawsuit). But a significant amount of kinetic energy is absorbed by the body. And this is more so if the occupant is not properly restrained by a seat belt.

The latest safety features include crumple zones, air bags, crash avoidance and automatic braking systems. But these can only do so much. So, to reduce the effects of g-forces on your body, it is imperative to wear a seat belt at all times. Not only will it stop your body from colliding with the car’s interior, it can provide about a foot of extra stretching distance which can drastically reduce the amount of acute g-force exerted on your body. It will also keep you from becoming your own hood ornament.

And, it is always a good idea to practice defensive driving in order to anticipate any possible accident scenarios on the road. Avoid following too close and keep your eyes on the road by avoiding distractions.

Until next week,

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Seat Belts Save Lives – Comedy Defensive Driving

Impatient Drivers –

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Drivers are so emotional these days. Every little thing is a trigger for road rage. I remember when, if you wanted to pass another car, you would flash your headlights at them. And it meant “I would like to pass, would you please move over.” Now flashing your headlights means “Get the heck out of my way.” When did we become such impatient drivers? And honking your horn? Forget about it. There’s no friendly honk. Heaven forbid you should lay on the horn. But even if you give someone a little toot to snap them out of their distracted moment to proceed when the light turns green, they lose it. I have heard that there are some intersections in NYC where the traffic light actually honks when the light turns green. What a brilliant idea. This takes the pressure off of drivers and puts it on the traffic device. Although I haven’t been able to find any proof verifying this traffic light with sound effects, I did find that in Japan, some lights make a Cuckoo clock sound, but that is probably not for drivers, but for blind pedestrians. Still, either way, it’s an excellent idea.

I was making a joke in my Comedy Defensive Driving class that, perhaps they should slip a little Prozac in the water system to mellow people out. Little did I know that there may be a bit of Lithium in the groundwater or drinking water in some cities, and this is what I found.

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health,
Using data for 27 Texas counties from 1978-1987, it is shown that the incidence rates of suicide, homicide and rape are significantly higher in counties whose drinking water supplies contain little or no lithium than in counties with water with higher lithium levels. These results suggest that lithium has moderating effects on suicidal and violent criminal behavior at levels that may be encountered in municipal water supplies. Comparisons of drinking water lithium levels, in the respective Texas counties, with the incidences of arrests for possession of opium, cocaine, and their derivatives (morphine, heroin, and codeine) from 1981-1986 also produced statistically significant inverse associations, whereas no significant or consistent associations were observed with the reported arrest rates for possession of marijuana, driving under the influence of alcohol, and drunkenness. These results suggest that lithium at low dosage levels has a generally beneficial effect on human behavior, which may be associated with the functions of lithium as a nutritionally-essential trace element.

It was just a joke, guys. Apparently, as most jokes, not a very original one since someone has already thought about this, studied it and implemented it. I’ll have to read more about this and help spread the word to promote World peace, calmness, less crime and of course those awesome honking traffic lights.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Impatient Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving

What is a Space Cushion?

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When you are driving, you want to create what is known as a space cushion between you and the other vehicles around you. This simply means that you create a safe distance in the front, side, and rear of your vehicle from others. A space cushion can also be referred to as a buffer zone, positioning, or a cushion length.
Here are some defensive driving tips to consider when you create a space cushion:


The Three Basic Elements of Driving

When you maintain a safe distance from another vehicle, you must take into consideration the following elements of driving:

  1. The consistent control of your speed
  2. Positioning of your vehicle in each lane
  3. Communication with other drivers via car lights and signals

All three of these factors are integral to creating a space cushion throughout your driving time. Circumstances change from moment to moment and you, as a defensive driver, must anticipate those changes and still maintain a safe distance from the other vehicles. Also, don’t forget: signal to other drivers when you have made a decision to enter their lane.


Front End Space Cushions

The objective of a front-end space cushion between you and other vehicles is for you to maintain a comfortable view of everything you are observing straight ahead as you drive. This means being able to see not only the entire back of the car directly in front of you all the way down to the tires but to also be able to view the cars on both sides of yours that are in front of you in any other lanes.
On a three-lane road, the best lane for optimal opportunity to create a safe space cushion between all vehicles in the center lane. This gives a maximum view of the entire road if you maintain at least a 3-5 second space cushion (or half a car length) between you and the car in front of you.


Increased Front-End Cushion Factors

Always treat vehicles other than cars in a slightly different manner when creating a space cushion. Their stop time and how they react to other vehicles is much different than a car.
Motorcycles should be followed at no less than a 10-second delay. Long trailers, especially with abundant loads, should be followed at a distance of 15 seconds or more and safely passed when an opportunity presents itself.


Side Vehicle Considerations

Always be aware of what another driver’s blind spot is when you are creating a space cushion between you and the vehicle next to you. If the front of your vehicle is nearly parallel to the other vehicle’s rear tire, then you are in their blind spot.
If you are in another driver’s blind spot, more than likely does not see you and could quickly change lanes, creating a collision that would probably be your fault if they hit you. Decelerate and drive at least 3-5 seconds from that driver’s back wheel, or speed up just enough to go past the other vehicle and create a complete space cushion on that side.


Back-End Space Cushions

This is the space cushion that we usually have no control over creating. That’s because the driver behind you is in control of their own speed and not you. This is not a problem unless the person is tailgating you. Do not slam on your brakes to alert them to “back off.” It may incite road rage.
Simply find an opportunity to either pull to the side of the road to let them pass or simply change lanes so they can go by and you can create a space cushion all around your vehicle once again.

Teen Driver Restrictions –

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Although not every state in our great nation has a hands-free (no cell phone or hand-held electronic devices) driving law, all do have teen driver restrictions which include this. And, of the 3 states that do not have a hands-free state law, they still restrict the use of electronic devices while driving until the age of 18.

Other teen driver restrictions include, but are not limited to a time curfew. In the 1990’s this curfew was conceived as a crime reduction tactic and curfews were promoted during the “tough on crime” era during the Bill Clinton administration. Before that, parents had control of their own children’s curfew time. Unfortunately, now instead of Cinderella’s coach turning into a pumpkin, she would likely be picked up by the police and brought back to the jail where she would wait for her stepmother to collect her.

Most states also enforce a teen driver restriction where they cannot drive a vehicle with more than one non-family member under the age of 21 in the car with them. When I was a teen, we would pack kids in the car like sardines. Seat belt use was not required until 1986, so everyone would squeeze in, sit on laps, ride on the floor or in the back window of the car like a beanie baby. I suppose now, this teen driving restriction allows you to only kill one friend at a time, rather than all of your friends at once. And we all remember those awkward teen years and how hard it is to make new friends.

Since drivers education is not offered in most high schools now as a course during school hours as it was in the past, and driver education classes are considerably expensive, there are other options offered which are less expensive but are less intensive (and, in my opinion, not as good). Online driver education courses are available as well as parent-taught driver education courses offered as a take-home course through the Department of Public Safety. Since it is well known that the highest mortality issue for teens is car accidents, investing in your child’s life by paying the extra for a live driving school course is always the best route.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teen Driver Restrictions – Comedy Defensive Driving

Conserving Fuel –

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Running out of gas is just about the most embarrassing situation one can put themselves in. And waiting for roadside assistance is another horror story, altogether. This is especially true if you run out of gas at night, because every serial killer comes out of the woodwork to help and give you a lift (Where to? Likely to your own early grave). It’s always good to know your vehicle’s fuel limit and how far you can push that limit. Keeping the tank filled when possible helps, but when you’re on a summer road trip with many miles between gas stations, sometimes it can’t be helped. Besides, nothing’s more stressful and puts a big damper on a relaxing vacation than knowing at any minute, you could be stranded on the side of the road. So here are a few tips for conserving fuel, whether you’re running on empty or just want to save money and help the environment.

• Don’t punch the gas
• Use the air conditioning less or turn it off entirely
• Lose the excess weight
• Roof rack or ski racks catch drag
• Keep windows and sunroof closed
• Don’t drive in rush hour traffic
• Make fewer trips
• Don’t speed
• Keep tires at proper inflation

Most auto insurance companies offer roadside assistance for a reasonable price. If you don’t have it or cannot afford it, check with your state’s department of transportation (DOT) as most states offer free roadside assistance on highways and toll ways. Keep the number handy. And remember to always keep your cell phone charged. For any road trip, investing in a roadside hazard safety kit with reflective triangles and a working flashlight would be another good idea.

And, remember, if you run out of gas and pull to either shoulder of a high speed roadway, never use your hazard lights. Drunk drivers are attracted to flashing lights (like blonds are attracted to shiny objects) and they may crash into your stopped car. For this reason, if you turn on your signal light (as if you are attempting to re-enter the roadway from the shoulder), other drivers, concerned that you may pull out in front of them, will hopefully move over a lane, thus putting an empty lane between your car and theirs, making it safer for both you and for those other drivers.

So, don’t put yourself in an unnecessary situation and have a safe and fun road trip this summer.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Conserving Fuel – Comedy Defensive Driving

Reducing Insurance Rates –

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Insurance rates are affected by a number of things. Your age is a big factor and insurance is much higher for new drivers under the age of 25. This is especially true for male drivers, so your gender is another important element in determining your insurance rates. When my daughter turned 16 and got her driver license, I put her on my auto insurance policy and my rates more than quadrupled. I thought, “Thank goodness she’s not a boy. How much would my insurance rates have gone up if she was a boy?” Then I did the “math,” and it would have been cheaper to send her to Sweden to get a sex change! Although rates will go down after 25, they will go right back up in your 60’s. So, with old age, all I have to look forward to is getting shorter with osteoporosis and having my insurance rates go up. I should just drive off a bridge (unfortunately, they’re doing road construction on local bridges here). Your credit score, whether you are married or single, own or rent your home as well as length of time you were insured with your previous agency all play a big part in determining your insurance rates. So, what measures can you take to help in reducing insurance rates? Here’s a list that may come in handy, but remember, as stated above,longevity is important, but that “loyalty” should go both ways, right?

• Drive carefully
• Observe traffic rules and speed limits to avoid moving violations and accidents
• Work with an independent insurance agent who partner with a wide range of companies to find you the best combination of price and coverage for you
• Take advantage of billing plan discounts
• Take a driver safety course (defensive driving course)
• Inquire about good student discounts, if applicable to you
• Choose a higher deductible
• Enroll in a telematics program like Progressive’s SnapShot or Safeco’s Right Track as your safe driving habits can help you save up to 30% of the premium
• Bundle your insurance plans (home, boat, auto) and save as much as 25%

Insurance rates in my state have increased due to weather claims and it has also been affected by the plethora of claims made due to accidents resulting from texting while driving. Mine went up a whopping 40% due to no fault of my own. Perhaps I should take my own advice and take measures to reduce my insurance rates to a manageable amount. And, while I’m at it, I should kick my 21 year old off of my insurance policy, because yikes-ola!

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Reducing Insurance Rates – Comedy Defensive Driving

Drinking and Driving –

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Today is Independence Day and I’m 1776% sure that most people are celebrating with alcohol. While we in the U.S. are commemorating our liberation from Great Britain, I’m curious how the British spend this day (sulking?). Celebrating our independence is our God-given right. Drinking and driving is not and may result in someone losing their rights as well as their independence. In fact, July 4th is the deadliest day of the year on our roads. While most people at least have a sip of champagne on New Years Eve, drinking usually begins closer to midnight. Holidays like today, people will likely be drinking all day and then driving to and from the celebration. Perhaps it’s not practical to assume that everyone will limit their drinking today, so here is a practical option to drinking and driving.

Four score and seven beers ago…The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) created a list of sober/safe ride programs across the country. Use the link below to locate one in your area and save the number in your cell phone so you always have it on you. Share the number via text message with friends and family too. It may save their lives and may also save you a trip to bail someone out of jail.

You can find a ride at this link:

Uber and Lyft, cabs, and other such “wingman” services are likely available in your area as well. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) have partnered with Uber, saying that taking an Uber is saving lives. The app is easy to manipulate when you’re impaired. When you download the app, it requires that you add your credit card information, so you also don’t have to exchange money when you’re impaired. Plus, with GPS, the driver knows where you are and you simply push a button and they’re on their way. A picture of the driver will pop up with the description of the vehicle and the license plate number (so you don’t get into the wrong car). An additional bonus is, when the picture of the driver pops up, if they’re not really your “type,” you can cancel it and order another one until you get a cuter driver (Ha! I’m just kidding…I don’t really do that…or do I??). It’s like an e-harmony/uber combo.

So, please have a safe and happy Independence Day. As far as my friends and family are concerned, it’s time to get star spangled hammered.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Drinking and Driving – Comedy Defensive Driving

What is Hydroplaning?

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When your vehicle’s tires lose traction with the road surface, it is hydroplaning. If you’re driving in the rain and there’s more water on the road than your tires can safely push away, you could find yourself unable to control the steering, speed and braking of your vehicle. Without control of your vehicle, you could easily slide into other cars or worse, slide over into oncoming traffic or slide off the road and hit any number of things.


If it’s just stopped raining, there may be areas of roadway that still have puddles, and that’s all it takes for a vehicle to hydroplane and lose control. Once you hit a puddle of any depth or a wet area of roadway, there’s water pressure in front of the wheels that pushes the water under the tires.

At that point, your tires are actually skimming the surface of the water as they’re separated from the road surface by that thin layer of water and therefore, they lose traction and start sliding.
Hydroplaning can be extremely dangerous depending on the road surface, surrounding vehicles or other obstacles, or even worse on a back road where you may end up sliding down an embankment.

Causes of Hydroplaning

  • The amount of water or depth of the water on road surfaces. There doesn’t have to be a lot of water on the road surface to start hydroplaning. One puddle, if it’s deep enough, can cause loss of traction and sliding.
  • When the tires lose traction with the road and virtually just skim the surface of the water, hydroplaning occurs.
  • Driving too fast for the road conditions can cause hydroplaning since the tires may be rotating faster than they can displace the water from the tread.
  • Improperly inflated tires can easily cause a vehicle to hydroplane. Whether your tires are under- or over-inflated, they can lose contact with the road surface, which will cause the vehicle to slide on top of the water instead of the tire tread displacing the water efficiently.
  • Worn tires won’t have enough tread to displace the water and maintain efficient contact with a wet road and in effect cause hydroplaning. So it’s important to check your tires’ tread depth, especially if you tend to put a lot of miles on them. It’s recommended to replace your tires when the tread measures 1/16 of an inch.
  • As mentioned, the entire road surface doesn’t have to be wet to cause hydroplaning. Puddles of water on the road can be enough to cause loss of traction.
  • Overloading a vehicle; carrying more weight than the vehicle is intended to carry causes more pressure on the tires than recommended and the tires can lose enough contact with the road to start hydroplaning.
  • The wrong size tires for your vehicle can even cause it to hydroplane, so be sure to only put tires on your vehicle that are meant for that vehicle.
  • The tread pattern on the tires can be a cause for a vehicle to hydroplane. Some tread patterns may look cool, but may not displace water efficiently enough for the tire to maintain traction.

How to Recover from Hydroplaning

You want to experience a safe recovery from hydroplaning to avoid any accidents. There are ways to get out of it.

  • First, remain calm. It’s best to not panic and to understand what your vehicle is doing and why.
  • Immediately take your foot off the accelerator. If you’re using cruise control, turn it off by gently tapping on the brake once. You never want to use your brakes in response to sliding. That may make the situation worse and you may skid out of control completely.
  • You need to regain control of your steering and the best way to do that is to realign your tires in the same direction as your vehicle. Even though it might seem like the wrong thing to do, you need to turn your steering wheel into the slide, in the same direction that your car is sliding. This puts your tires in direct alignment to your vehicle and aids in getting back control of your car.
  • Once you feel your tires regaining traction with the road surface, slow your car by tapping gently on the brakes and you’ll drive out of the hydroplane.


After you’ve fully recovered, you may want to pull off the road and take a few breaths to completely calm down before venturing on in your travels.

Elderly Driver –

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My Mother turned 80 years old and had to take both a driving test and a written test to renew her license as an elderly driver in Illinois. Every time I spoke with her on the phone, she was studying her state’s driver handbook. She was clearly worried that she may not pass the driving or written portion of the test. One time I called and she said she couldn’t hear me. At first I was concerned that her hearing was going. Maybe we had a bad connection. Then she admitted that she had the phone upside down and was speaking into the receiver. Although I assured her that she is a very good driver, she did end up flunking the driving test because she blew through a solid yellow light that turned red before she was out of the intersection. Illinois state law requires that after 80, she will need to renew her license every two years. And after 87, she will be required to renew it every year.

License renewal procedures vary from state to state but tend to follow the same pattern. In addition to taking a written test and a driving test, most states also require a vision test, hearing test (thank goodness) and a medical evaluation. Doctors and family members can also submit requests to the DMV to conduct unsafe driver investigations before license renewal. I have found it to be true that independence is very important to the elderly and once someone is forced to give up driving, they often slip into depression. But, if driving is becoming a danger to themselves and to others, this may be the only resort. Now that we have inexpensive ways to get a lift (such as Uber and Lyft), one can still be independent without actually driving.

Another thing that will help as an elderly driver is taking a defensive driving course. This will not only lower your insurance rates but will also double as an excellent refresher course regarding both new laws and existing laws. Your insurance agent should be more than happy to give you an insurance discount as a reward for making an effort to be a better driver.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Artist / Comedienne

Elderly Driver –