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Rushed Drivers – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Why are drivers always in such a big darned hurry? Apparently, impatience leads to rudeness. I remember when attempting to pass someone in the left lane, you would flash your headlights at them. This used to mean “I would like to pass you, please, would you mind moving over to the right lane so that I may do so.” And now when you flash your headlights to pass, it apparently means “Get the heck out of my way.” When did we become such rushed drivers? I’m not saying that I am exempt. I find myself being impatient as well. And I can only speak for myself, but the reason that I am always in such a big darned rush is because I don’t manage my time well. But can that be true for the masses? If I were my adult self, speaking to my inner child, I would say that I should plan to leave earlier so I can relax and not get stressed out while driving to work. There are, of course, other factors that lend to one’s tardiness, such as road construction, traffic, accidents, weather and other unseen events. Listening to the radio for the latest traffic reports sounds ideal but music is much more soothing to the savage beast, eh? And, this is just a passing thought, but I bet there are a lot less impatient speeders and Colorado, Oregon, California and Washington. Police are likely writing zero speeding tickets and responding to less road rage incidents. Now, in those states police are probably writing more tickets for driving too slow or sitting at a stop sign, waiting for it to turn green.
And what are we teaching our kids who are lead by our example? Kids are like little sponges that absorb everything they see and hear. Again, I am not exempt. I will admit, my daughter’s first word was a bad word that she learned while riding in the car with me. I have always prided myself in doing clean comedy. I rarely swear and when I do it’s usually quite mild. So, I was quick to blame my younger sister. I asked her to watch her language around my kid because she’s picking up bad words. It escalated to my tiny toddler swearing in public places. We were in the grocery store, passed a man in an aisle and she called him a bad word. I apologized profusely and he said “That’s okay, lady. I’ve been called worse. But not by a baby.” She eventually stopped saying the word and life was peaceful again. One day, I was driving, she was asleep in her car seat and another car cut us off. Out of my mouth came that exact word. Good thing she was asleep and didn’t hear. But it was then that I realized it was me all along that she was mimicking, not my sister. I never told my sister, though. Although we all like to believe that we are basically good, kind hearted human beings, our alter-ego emerges when driving. This is especially true of rushed drivers.
So take a deep breath, buckle up and be kind out there. You’re not going to arrive any faster by being a jerk. Less stress is good for your heart and soul. And remember, there are little sponges out there learning how to treat others by our examples (good or bad).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Rushed Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving

Happy Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms around the world, we literally would not be here without you. Funny how some parental roles have switched over time. The trend now seems to be that more and more mothers are teaching their teens how to drive. It was typically dads who did the teaching when I was a kid. Most kids when asked why their father didn’t teach them to drive will say it’s because their dad is way too impatient. Apparently that role has changed as well, because my mom was the impatient parent when I was a kid. We called her (and still do) “Old Yeller.” My dad was just a laid-back alcoholic, an inebriated role model who taught us how to drive. I was taught to drive by a drunk driver and I learned how to weave and drift across three lanes. He’d put his beer can in the middle of the dashboard and say “Line up this can with the side of the road (to get your perspective then, one would typically use the pointed part of the hood or the hood ornament).” Then he’d climb over the seat and pass out. That was back in the 70’s though, in Illinois where there was nothing but cornfields and liquor stores (and liquor made out of corn). Now, you go to jail for allowing your child to drive you home from the bar. But kids are much more important now than when I was a kid. My dad got his only DWI when he was in his mid 70’s. His license was suspended and he was not allowed to drive, which was ironic, because he would often say “Your mother drives me to drink.” And then after his license was suspended, she had to drive him to drink.
I, too, was one of those mothers that taught my daughter how to drive. Her father had no part, whatsoever, in teaching her about driving a car (Ha! As if I even know who her dad is). Since I am a Defensive Driving Instructor, she is a very careful and cautious driver. And, not to be hypercritical, one can often be too cautious. And I have also noticed lately that many young women have driving anxiety because of higher speed limits that they are not comfortable with, dealing with angry and impatient drivers and/or they’ve had an accident. Doing a little research on driving anxiety, I found this nifty seven question quiz to determine one’s level of driving anxiety. https://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety-test
Being too cautious and driving too slowly (not keeping up with the flow of traffic) can also cause accidents or road rage. If you have extreme driving anxiety, it can be dangerous for you and for others around you. Perhaps seeing a therapist for driving anxiety may be the best choice. Not everyone likes to drive, I know that I don’t. Now, with many inexpensive ways to commute, perhaps driving less or not putting yourself on a high speed roadway may save your life and the life of others.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Happy Mother’s Day – Comedy Defensive Driving

Insurance Rates Increased

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There’s been a huge rise in accidents due to there being more cars on the road, the increase in speed limits (not only the high-impact crashes from speeders, but this, combined with those who are not keeping up with the flow of traffic), and more in-car distractions (such as cell phones and GPS). Due to insurance companies paying out unprecedented sums and claims, you will notice that it is likely that your insurance rates increased. My insurance recently went up 40% with no citations nor change in status. When I called my insurance agent to ask why, she asked me to answer a few questions. She asked approximately how many miles I drove last year; how many of those miles were driven for commuting, work and pleasure. I told her that I thought since I commuting to work, they were the same darned thing. And I certainly don’t like to drive for pleasure…ugh! And that brought my insurance rate back down. I was also told that since full-coverage insurance includes uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage, if you’re paying for those items as an add-on (these also include things like roadside assistance and additional coverage), you may be paying “twice” for those two items.

There are so many items that affect your insurance rates. Here is a list of some of those items:
• Your age (under 21/25 and over 62)
• Gender (boys under 25…yikes!)
• Your zip code
• What you drive
• Full coverage or bare-bones liability
• Married or single
• Own or rent your home
• Longevity/Loyalty (how long you had coverage with your last insurance company)
• Claims history
• Your credit score (although I recommend shopping around for better rates if yours increases, insurance companies will check your credit report, resulting in a “soft hit” on your credit report, which affects your credit score a bit).

I remember the good old days when my full-coverage insurance rate was $61 a month. And it even included roadside assistance and towing. When I added my 16 year old daughter to my insurance plan, my insurance more than quadrupled. I thought “Thank God she’s a girl and not a boy. How much would my insurance rates have increased if she had been born a son?” And I did the math. It would have been cheaper to fly her to Sweden to get a sex change.

If you review the items above with your insurance agent, perhaps a few of those items can be addressed and may help to lower your insurance rates. Good driver discounts and good student discounts can also be addressed. Most insurance companies still give a discount for taking a state-approved defensive driving class. It just makes sense that they would prefer that you take a “refresher course” to help make you a better driver. And some reward you for doing so. The discount is typically 10% off your liability insurance for three years (but can be anywhere between 5% and 25% off). Ask your insurance agent about this and all discounts.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Insurance Rates Increased – Comedy Defensive Driving

FOLLOWING DISTANCE

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One of the leading causes for a multiple vehicle pileup is from tailgating. Why do people insist on following too close? Especially on the freeway, less than a car length between them and the car ahead, doing 80+ mph. Basic drivers education teaches the current formula or method to create a safe following distance (or what some also call a stopping distance). But, especially in heavy traffic, that formula goes right out the window, along with your manners and any remaining dignity. If you do go to the trouble of creating a safe following distance, another car will slip into that space, forcing you to tailgate. So, you once again you repeat the process to leave a safe distance between you and the car ahead and someone else slips into that space. Maybe that’s why people generally leave less than a car length between them and the car ahead. There’s no winning. Combine this with distractions and no clear visibility ahead and here comes your pileup and your picture on the six o’clock news.

This is why tailgating is most definitely a moving violation. With the rise of speed limits, the current following distance is now 3 seconds in dry weather. This is to be doubled to a 6 second rule in wet weather. And it is to be tripled to a 9 second rule in icy/snowy weather.

I believe that most driver education instructors teach drivers the following way. Once the car ahead of you has passed a stationary object, you should be able to count the appropriate number of seconds before your car passes the same object.

So, good luck there my friend! It may take you twice as long to get to your destination if you practice this method, but at least you will arrive (undead).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

FOLLOWING DISTANCE – Comedy Defensive Driving School

Teens and Seat Belts

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I was under the impression that the majority of people that don’t wear seat belts are the elderly. Since wearing a seat belt (or what they used to call a “safety belt”) became a law in 1986, the elderly have spent most of their lives not being required to wear a seat belt, so perhaps they never really caught on or got comfortable with it. My elderly parents would drive from Illinois to Texas sans-belt (that’s French for “no belt”). My Mother says that wearing the seat belt would wrinkle her outfit. But going through the windshield would surely put a few wrinkles in her outfit and her head, etc. It seems that teen boys have adopted this attitude about not wearing seat belts. My position as a Defensive Driving Instructor does not require that I lecture or “mother” teens about wearing a seat belt. And it seems that teen girls do typically wear seat belts. So, what’s the deal with teens and seat belts?

One would think that the hefty fine alone would encourage compliance of the seat belt law. And not only the fine, but since not wearing a seat belt is a moving violation, one would have the option of possibly reducing the price of the ticket and taking a defensive driving course to have the ticket dismissed. Or, if not, the points will be applied to your driving record and your insurance will increase. That would certainly modify my behavior. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death among teenagers. And, in Texas, teen drivers have the highest incidence of unbuckled fatalities. Statistics show that in 2015, 293 teen drivers and passengers (age 15-20) died. Of those fatalities, 115 of them (39%) were not wearing seat belts.

The law in this state requires everyone in the vehicle to wear a seat belt, one seat belt for each passenger and driver in the vehicle. No more sitting on laps or sharing seat belts (i.e. no more clown car action). “Who” gets the citation, depends on their age. If anyone under 17 (under age) is not wearing a seat belt, the driver will get the citation. Anyone 17 or older (of age) will receive the citation. Although I did have an unfortunate 16 year old girl in my class who had received a citation for speeding through a 20mph school zone, and had also received two seat belt citations because her 16 year old friends were not wearing their seat belts. Although she was under 17, she still got their citations. The officer could have also cited her for having more than one non-family member under 21 in the car with her. So it could have been worse. Still, I bet her parents were not pleased. My parents would have killed me and started all over again, creating new, cheaper offspring.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teens and Seat Belts – Comedy Defensive Driving

A Crash Free Society

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It is said that a high percentage of crashes are due to a driver’s attitude or behavior. So, could it be true that if we just stayed more focused and had better control of our emotions we would inevitably make better decisions and therefore nearly eliminate crashes, altogether? Could we actually become a crash free society. It would be interesting to start a “challenge” to see what effect this would have in reducing crashes, as well as a reduction in moving violations and even road rage.

Following these simple principles may help us to avoid that which we all dread.
• Always wear your seat belt and make sure others in the car are wearing theirs too.
• Scan the road ahead. And constantly scan around your car by checking your side mirrors and your rearview mirror every 3 to 7 seconds so you always know where your safe “out” is (drive like a bobble head). This is super important…but your MAIN FOCUS should always be scanning the road ahead of your intended path of travel. This will result in better reaction time and no surprises.
• Always try to keep a three second following distance between you and the car ahead. This will help reduce the chances of a rear-end collision. Once the car ahead of you passes a stationary object such as a tree, mile marker or a dead deer (if it gets up and walks away, you need to find something else), count 3 seconds before your car passes that same stationary object. Double this rule in wet weather and triple it in icy or snowy weather. Keep a good space around your car.
• Change lanes properly. Use your signal, that’s what it’s for. It’s also a moving violation if you don’t signal 100 feet before changing lanes or turning. Newer cars have a blinker feature that will automatically shut off after 3 to 6 blinks (so you no longer have to be the “eternal signaler” that forgot to shut the blinker off).
Be aware of your speed and keep up with the flow of traffic. Not keeping up with the flow of traffic is the current leading cause for crashes. So, if everyone is speeding and you’re not keeping up with the flow of traffic, you could be impeding traffic (which can be more dangerous than speeding). Driving too slow causes more crashes, but the high-impact of speeding crashes cause more fatalities. In other words, “speed kills.”
• Be careful when backing out. In a parking lot, you must yield to moving vehicles.
• Keep a good, clear view. Make sure you have plenty of wiper fluid, that the wipers work and your windshield is clean. If you can’t see well at night, don’t drive at night. If it’s that foggy, just get off the road and wait.
• Stay calm and alert and don’t be distracted.
• Watch out for blind spots and those in your blind spots (and you in theirs). Motorcyclists and bicyclists are especially vulnerable to blind spots.
• Adjust your seat and steering wheel to suit you.

And, for Pete’s sake, always be prepared to yield the right of way. Try to be a courteous driver. Let people over when they signal and they will probably do the same. It’s only going to create good Karma.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

A Crash Free Society – Comedy Defensive Driving

Long-Haul Trucking

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The mid-1970’s was the absolute goofiest time for music. Long-haul trucking was sensationalized by movies such as White Line Fever, Breaker Breaker, Convoy and Smokey and the Bandit. Jerry Reed’s lyrics are seared into my brain as my Dad, although not a trucker, drove a pickup truck and had a CB radio like everyone else. Of course, he had his own “handle.” I don’t remember what his handle name was, but it was probably “crabby daddy” or “short fuse” if I would have been asked to suggest one that suited him. As for real truckers (not wannabe’s like my dad), long-haul trucking meant days with no sleep. Getting your merchandise to its destination early yielded a sweet bonus. Now, with new safety regulations in place since 2013, tag-team driving with a partner or spouse seems to be the norm.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced in 2011 that new federal regulations designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue were to go in to effect in 2013. The final ruling as to hours-of-service are as follows:

• Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours;
• Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most – from 1-5 a.m., and;
• Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

Although those movies of the 70’s glamorize trucking, it must be a very hard lifestyle. If you are one of those rare human beings who “likes” to drive, this may be an ideal career move for you. As for me, driving in traffic changes my outlook on life. I become a different person, altogether. You can’t help but notice that most drivers don’t allow trucks to merge and just love to perform risky maneuvers behind, beside and in front of trucks. Even with no trailer and multiple brakes, it still takes a truck nine times longer to stop than it does for a car to stop. So, if you’re in the habit of whipping in front of a big rig, your Honda Accord could be transformed into a Honda Accordion.

Sadly, respect for truckers seems to have died with Jerry Reed. Please show respect for those big rigs that you are sharing the road with. And give those truckers the courtesy they deserve. Put yourself in their shoes. And just be thankful that your sale items at Wal-Mart are all in stock because someone painstakingly hauled them there.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Long-Haul Trucking – Comedy Defensive Driving

Attention When Driving

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Spring is in the air and it’s evident when you travel down our highways. Texas is famous for her Bluebonnets and other breathtaking Spring Perennials (Indian Paintbrush, Indian Blanket, Pink Evening Primrose and Mexican Hat. And this year it appears that they are going to be plentiful. Of course every native Texan has had their baby pictures taken in a field of Bluebonnets. Or, if not a field, those pictures were more likely taken along the roadside, with big rigs passing by. So maybe you weren’t just “fussy” in those pictures, but scared for your young life. Just the sound of a tractor-trailer would scare a baby right out of their diaper! And that’s not the only danger, what about the unexpected guests one may find lurking among those wildflowers. We have some mean critters down south, and of course they’re big, because everything’s bigger in Texas. Scorpions, Tarantulas, Fire Ants and Rattle Snakes also like to share family time in them there bonnets. Heck, the Poison Ivy and Cactus alone would do a number on a baby’s brand-new skin. So, I wonder how carefully parents are really inspecting the flora before plopping junior in it for a family photo. While admiring the scenery, you may want to pay extra careful attention when driving since everyone else around you is distracted too.

If you’d like to know some of the best places to take pictures of your offspring in the wildflowers, you can get information at the following websites. They also identify common wildflowers.

• Texas Highways Magazine http://www.texashighways.com/wildflowers
• Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website http://www.wildflower.org
• Texas Parks and Wildlife https://www.tpwmagazine.com/ offers a list of designated bluebonnet photo op destinations.

These are areas designated for photo taking. And they are much safer (not so much critter-wise, but definitely away from the dangerous road).

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Attention When Driving – Comedy Defensive Driving.com

Locked In a Car Trunk – How to Escape

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Some friends were talking about an incident they heard on the news about a woman being carjacked and thrown in the trunk of her own car. How terrifying that would be. And what were they going to do to her when they arrived at their destination? As we all know, they only kind of people who would actually have first-hand experience of being locked in a car trunk would be (a) mobsters and (b) really, really bad children. Not too many years ago, I recall a lady had been taking her child with her to a bar in the Chicago suburbs. He couldn’t go into the bar, so she would leave him safely stashed in the trunk of her car with a flashlight so he could do his homework. She got caught doing this because she was bragging to other bar patrons of how good of a student he was because he gets a lot of studying done in the trunk of her car. As for the recent event, hijacking a car (also known as grand theft auto…we’ve all played that game) is a major offense, but kidnapping is a whole other long, painful prison term.

So, if something like this happened to you, would you know how to escape? According to Jeff Rossen who does NBC’s Today Show Rossen Reports, since 2001 law requires that all cars must be equipped with an escape latch in the trunk of a car. And, he says, that most people are unaware that this latch actually glows in the dark. So, now would be a good time to take a gander inside your trunk to locate the latch. If you cannot find it, this would be a good excuse to open the factory seal on that car manual that you’ve never looked at. If you still have no luck locating it, ask someone at your dealership or perhaps your auto mechanic may even be able to help you to locate it.

Always expect the unexpected. And be ready for whatever situation may present itself to you. Perhaps this may save your life someday and keep your mug from being a headline in the news.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Locked In a Car Trunk – Comedy Defensive Driving

Slow Drivers

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Although I have never had anyone in my Comedy Defensive Driving School class for driving to slow (and unlimited students in there for driving too fast), slow drivers cause more car crashes than speeders. In my city, I have noticed that “minimum speed” signs are not present on the highways here. I am told by students who live in rural areas that, when you get outside of the city, there are still some signs posted for minimum speed limit and maximum speed limit.

Since driving “not with the flow of traffic” or under the flow of traffic has been proven to not only impede traffic which often times cause crashes, one should always keep to the right, unless you are passing. The left lane is not a “fast” lane, it is a passing lane, and should only be used for passing other cars. Impeding the flow of traffic by continuing to drive in the left lane is punishable by a fine up to $200 (not to mention the angry snarls you will get from other drivers).

In 1997 the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring that all “Slower Traffic Keep Right” signs be phased out in favor of wording that states, “Left Lane for Passing Only.” I believe all interstates display these signs. But, even if not posted on any high speed roadway, the left lane should always be left open for passing cars to maintain a smooth flow of traffic. When slow drivers linger in the left lane of a multiple lane road, you may be forced to pass on the right, causing confusion and disorganization that can lead to accidents. Cars on entrance ramps will then have to get up to speed with someone doing a higher speed in the slow lane. And we all are aware that some ramps are ridiculously short (I like to call those natural selection ramps). You may also be forced to stop suddenly, which can start a chain reaction of braking that could lead to accidents or road rage. Your trip to work may become a scene straight out of Final Destination.

So, I am curious, do some people just not know this? Or do they just not care? And who, pray tell are these naive, uncaring people? Well, apparently they’re sometimes just overly cautious drivers, such as visitors, drivers who have recently relocated to the area, new drivers and senior drivers (which is what I am about to become, so I no longer make fun of senior drivers). But, we all know that a majority of these left lane lovers are simply distracted drivers. You know, because when you pass them on the right, after riding behind them for 10 minutes, just hoping they will get over, you can clearly see that they are talking on the phone. They’d better be calling for an ambulance, eh?

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Slow Drivers – Comedy Defensive Driving School