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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

The Latest Airbags – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Cars now have more airbags than ever! Some cars even have up to 10 airbags. My Dad used to fondly refer to my Mom as “The Seat Belt” because she’d throw her arm across your chest whenever she had to slam on the brakes. Now he calls her “The Airbag.” Sweet of him to create nicknames for her that evolve right along with vehicle safety features. So, cars of today are safer than ever. And the latest airbags are a big part of this.
In front crashes, airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In addition to front air bags, most of the newer models also feature side torso airbags and side curtain airbags (hitting one’s head against the door’s window is a thing of the past). Some vehicles even have rear-seat airbags for those pesky kids and relatives.
And these airbag technologies are ever-evolving. Here are some airbag innovations that are starting to make their way into our newer vehicles.
• Knee Airbags – This small airbag is designed to minimize injuries to the lower limbs as they make contact with the dashboard. There are located in the footwell, under the steering wheel on the driver side, and under the glove box on the passenger side (Why do they call it a glove box? Does anyone really store gloves in there?)
• Front Center Airbag – Introduced in 2013, this airbag deploys from the right side of the driver seat and positions itself between the front row seats near the center of the vehicle. It is designed to provide restraint during passenger-side crashes when the driver is alone. It also acts as an energy-absorbing cushion between driver and front passenger in both driver and passenger side crashes. It also helps to minimize injuries in rollover accidents.
• Inflatable Seatbelts – Introduced in 2011, these are kind of a cross between an airbag and a seat belt. They are designed to reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers (typically children and the elderly).
Frontal airbags have been a federal requirement since 1999. And, while airbags reduce serious injuries, they may also cause injuries. Since they deploy in milliseconds, it’s like getting hit in the face with a boxing glove, since it’s a controlled explosion. That is why newer airbags don’t come out at such a high pressure as earlier ones. Mine is set to come out at 300 p.s.i., which would surely knock me out since I also have short legs and am entirely too close to the steering wheel. Newer airbags come out at a lower pressure and some are flexible-venting that uses the driver’s forward momentum to push out the gas from the inflated bag, making for a less harsh impact. For the most part, the injury issues stem from frontal airbags.
I’m looking forward to seeing what is available at the dealership when I’m shopping next month for a new car.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
The Latest Airbags – Comedy Defensive Driving

Auto Insurance Discounts – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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My car is old, but my insurance company still gives me auto insurance discounts for its “three” safety features (the air bags, anti-lock brakes and the anti-theft system). So, with the latest safety features available now, I’m curious what discounts I would qualify for if I had a newer car. Of course, the real high-dollar savings there would be the costly hospital bills, not to mention the possible “saving of one’s life.”
Besides good driver discounts and good student discounts, here is a list of the current safety features that auto insurance companies give discounts for.
• Automatic seat belts (not in my car)
• Driver side and passenger side air bags (yes!)
• Anti-lock brakes (yes!)
• Daytime running lights (not in my car)
• Adaptive headlights (not in my car)
• Blind spot detection (not in my car)
• Lane departure warning system (not in my car)
• Rear view camera (not in my car)
• Automatic emergency braking (not in my car)
• Forward collision warning (not in my car)
• Anti-theft system (yes!)
Yes, as I said before, my car is old. Renting a car recently made me well aware of how I don’t even know how to start a new car with a keyless ignition. I had to learn the hard way…by actually referring to the owner’s manual (that I had to Google on my phone because the manual was not in the car). And renting a car at night, not knowing where the switch is to turn on the headlights or not knowing how to turn on the windshield wipers when it’s pouring down rain made me realize that perhaps I need to rent the economy car next time with the simple, typical features. Maybe I’m not ready for the big girl car. Or, maybe the big girl car is not ready for me.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Auto Insurance Discounts – Comedy Defensive Driving

Auto Inspections – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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A bill to scrap auto inspections in Texas for noncommercial vehicles has failed. State lawmakers argument was that the once government-mandated check-ups amount to little more than a hassle and a tax for citizens. There are thirty four states don’t require an inspection. And the federal government quit requiring it in the 1970’s. The real argument is that studies show annual checks of the horn, windshield wipers, mirrors, lights, seat belts, tires and brakes don’t actually improve safety. It is estimated that ending inspections would save vehicle owners a total of $266 million a year. Vehicle emission inspections would still be required for commercial vehicles, which is a sigh of relief for our environment since environmental activists say DFW’s air quality already fails E.P.A. standards. And if older, more pollutant vehicles are on the roads, the issue could get even worse. It is also important to keep those emission tests in place because that’s how you can tell if your vehicle has problems or not.
Our latest change came in March, 2015, when they combined the registration and inspection sticker into one sticker. This alone had been estimated to save Texas over 2 million dollars. If this new bill had been approved, though, repair shops claim that they would see a loss in income because these safety and emissions checks make up 20% of their business. So this would result in them having to cut employees.
Had it passed, Texas would have been the 35th state to get rid of inspections. And, although I would love nothing more than to not have to shell out money every year to get my vehicle inspected (not to mention the time that it takes to get it done), I would rather pay the extra to preserve our environment and not concern my little head about cars broken down in the express lane on the freeway. Although, I know that the car in front of me today that turned on their hazard lights when I was following too close because they were driving 50 in a 70 was not actually breaking down (after all, it is an “express lane”). And they did actually come to a complete stop, which could have resulted in a tragic 100 car pile-up (that’s how many cars were all locking up their brakes behind me). I know the jerk in the car in front of me was bluffing (or trying to teach me a lesson), because as soon as the express lane ended, they turned off their hazard lights and gunned it to a nice 80+mph.
Apparently, I’m still not over it.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Auto Inspections – Comedy Defensive Driving

Dangerously Short Ramps – ComedyDefensiveDriving.com

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Whatever happened to the good old rule of accelerating when entering the freeway and decelerating when exiting? This is a question that was brought up in a recent defensive driving class. Well, there are a few factors that contribute to these problems. First of all, the entrance and exit ramps are generally too short. In fact, there are dangerously short ramps in my city. Another problem is that people are driving in the left passing lane under the speed limit or, at least not with the flow of traffic. This encourages those who wish to pass to go around them on the right, in the slow lane. Unfortunately, that is the same lane that you need to speed up to (or accelerate to) in order to merge in with the flow of traffic. This is close to impossible to do on a super short ramp, unless you have a crotch rocket motorcycle or a really fast car with a V8 engine. So, your only option is to get a good running start on the access road and therein lies your problem. You are not to exceed the speed limit on the access road UNTIL you enter that launching pad of a ramp. If you’re entering a freeway that is only two lanes going your direction, you may also encounter a menacing truck in your slow lane since they are not allowed to drive in the passing lane, unless they’re actually passing. Merging into a semi is quite unpleasant, I’ve been told. And with road construction, many toll ways and freeways in my city are down to two lanes.
Exiting on a short ramp is equally as dangerous, since people tend to tailgate when you’re exiting and people on the access road, who are supposed to yield to the ramp, do not yield.
There is much heavier traffic now, as well. There are very few people in my city that car pool. In fact, most of our H.O.V. (high occupancy vehicle) lanes have changed to “Express Lanes.” Everyone is in a crazy rush, trying to catch up on the time they lost in traffic and stuck in road construction. Engineers must have quite a time keeping up with changes to support traffic needs. So, where they are widening the freeways and toll ways here, they are lengthening the ramps. It’s the beginning of the solution. We will see how it plays out and how it effects the reduction of crashes and fatalities in 2017.
Until next week…
Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist
Dangerously Short Ramps – Comedy Defensive Driving