Category Archives: blog

Try forgiveness, because it’s good for you

Yesterday’s Daily Word was Forgiveness, and that always reminds me what a wonderful relief it was to have finally, after lo those many crabby years, discovered The Rider Method. Oh, not the whole thing with the 8-Step Program and all, that took a little longer, but just the core truth, that my anger was making me miserable without improving that other bad driver a bit, so to forgive and forget his or her poor driving habits was a kindness to me. And I am always in favor of kindness to me! You too? I suspect that most of us like to be kind to ourselves, don’t we? Well, we can. And we should.

Anger is optional, not required, and we can all do ourselves a big favor by getting over it, or as the boss likes to say, FIDO: Forget It, Drive On.

Buddha's advice on anger

Who’s getting hurt when you’re angry? Right, it’s you. Is that what you want?

And here’s a fancier illustrated way of getting the point across, courtesy of The Buddha and photoshop:

And here’s another, slightly creepier perspective from Mark Twain, courtesy of goodreads:

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

Oh sure, we might prefer it was this or that inconsiderate creep over in the other car getting burned, but they are not in our jurisdiction. And sometimes they’re not even inconsiderate, or creeps. Or all those other unpleasant names we’ve been calling them. Because when you think about it, we don’t really know what they’re thinking or why they’re driving like that, do we? We’re just making up our own story, and it’s making us mad! So why not make up a story that makes us laugh instead? Laughing is so much better for us, and a lot more fun too. Seriously, the Mayo Clinic says so. Would you like to review its health benefits?

Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke

And for the complete scoop on how to laugh more and rage less with The Rider Method, head on over to The Mission or The Book. Or both. We know it takes some practice and we’re here to help. In the meantime, here’s the abbreviated version: Life is short; the road is long. Lighten up!

And let there be peace on the road!

How to avoid a crash on the road

And what to do if you can’t. Here’s some excellent advice from the professionals …

Avoid this!

Avoid this!

Many thanks for this Safety Tip to the VT State Police, VT Department of Motor Vehicles, VT Agency of Transportation, VT Sheriffs’ Association and AARP Driver Safety, a kindly (and smart!) bunch of folks who work every day to keep Vermont drivers safe, and are happy to share their good advice with all of us, wherever we live.

How to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

There were 77 deaths on Vermont roads in 2012, a 40% increase over 2011, and the US full year figures aren’t out yet, but there was a 7.1% increase (to 25,580) nationwide over the first nine months of the year. What’s going on here? Why are there so many crashes? And why don’t we call them accidents any more? Most are due to poor driving decisions. And we call them crashes to stress that they can be prevented by avoiding these unsafe behaviors:

  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Not paying attention (phone calls, texting and other distractions)
  • Following too close
  • Crossing center line
  • Not yielding right-of-way
  • Driving impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Unsafe passing
  • Not checking mirrors and blind spots

But what if someone else hasn’t read and followed this advice? If threatened with a head-on crash, brake hard and steer toward the right shoulder. Never cross the center line to escape an oncoming car in your lane. If forced to hit something, try to sideswipe rather than crash head-on. A stationary object is normally less dangerous than a vehicle moving toward you.

After a crash, you are required by law to stop and give any assistance that is reasonably necessary. Understand that folks may be confused and upset, and follow these steps:

  • If possible, move vehicles out of the road. This will reduce chances of another crash causing additional damage and injury.
  • If someone is injured, call 911. Unless they are in danger, leave the injured where they are, and keep them warm and calm. Moving them may aggravate injuries.
  • Describe what happened to police officers, and show your license, registration, and proof of insurance to them and to anyone who is injured or whose property was damaged.
  • If you damage a parked vehicle and can’t find the owner, leave your name and contact information in or on the vehicle.
  • If there are any injuries or damage over $3,000, you must submit a Crash Report to the VT Department of Motor Vehicles within 72 hours. Forms are available online at dmv.vermont.gov, by calling 802 828-2050, or from any police or DMV office (or check your state’s website for the rules). Be sure to note the exact location, time and road conditions, a description of injuries and damage, and the name, address, license and registration numbers of the other driver.
  • Take photos and get names and contact information from passengers in the other vehicle and any witnesses.

Even in a crash, fatalities can be reduced by safety belts, which are the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury on the road; they can reduce the risk of injuries by over 50%. Safety belts support a safe, comfortable position for better control of the vehicle and optimal airbag protection. To be most effective, belts should fit snugly across the hips, not over the stomach, and across the center of the chest, away from the neck. Never tuck a shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.

Children are especially vulnerable, and are safest in the back seat. Drivers should make sure car seats and booster seats are appropriate for the child’s age and size, and properly installed.

Vermont law requires ALL occupants of a vehicle to be restrained with a safety belt or appropriate child restraint system, and so do most other states. Yet while national usage increased to 86% in 2012, Vermont compliance fell to 84.2%. We should do better, because it’s the law, and plain common sense.

We are killing too many Vermonters (or insert your state’s name here). Let’s buckle up, slow down, pay attention, and stay alive in 2013.

 

Let’s count our traffic blessings, with help from and sympathy for the Russians

Looking for a reason to count your blessings in the midst of the holiday shopping frenzy? Feeling a little irritated with traffic? Or a lot? 

Here’s another one of many reasons to be thankful we live here rather than in Russia, courtesy of Huffington Post.

125-Mile Traffic Jam in Russia Keeps Drivers Stuck for Three Days

And it isn’t much better when the poor souls are moving. Check out this npr report, complete with alarming video.

How About A Little Drive, Hmm? (A Horror Story)

Feeling better already? Me too! 


What I learned about snow tires today

Well, first, I learned that we don’t call them snow tires anymore; they’re winter tires now. Do we need them? The short answer is Yes, at least if we live in Vermont. Or Colorado (too bad I didn’t figure that out when I lived there). Or in any other snowy places for that matter, especially the ones with mountains. If your roads tend to look like this in the winter, it’s a good idea to consider them.

According to Consumer Reports, winter tires have a better grip on snow and ice, and the Vermont DMV recommends them. Ideally, they should be installed before the first snow of the season, and must always be the same on all four wheels.  Folks who live in flatter, less snowy states may prefer to save the extra expense and get by with all-weather tires, which also have the advantage on cleared roads. It isn’t cheap, after all, to purchase an extra set of tires and have them changed over twice every year. Plus winter tires often wear out more quickly. On the other hand, even one crash avoided may be well worth the extra time and money. 

Finally, what about studs? Back in the day, when we were driving on hard-packed snow and ice for a good part of the winter, studded tires were a wonderful safety feature, and kept many of us alive and out of the ditch. Nowadays, those wonderful people who clear the roads for us do such a great job that most of us are driving on bare roads in the winter more than ever. Metal studs do improve stopping performance on ice, but make little if any difference on snow, none on bare roads, and are actually worse when the road is wet. Other drawbacks are the irritating noise, and damage to the pavement, which is why many states limit their use to the winter months and some ban them altogether. Vermont trusts our common sense and so has no legal restrictions, but we can help out the highway maintenance crews and their budget by using studded tires only in the winter months, or not at all. You can check the rules for your state or province in the AAA Digest of Motor Laws. (Thanks, AAA!) Honestly, as a general rule, unless you expect to do most of your driving in icy conditions, winter tires without studs are going to be your best choice.

And there you have it – my complete sensible advice. For today, anyway. You’re welcome.

PS Thanks to Anonymous, who raised the very good question ‘Why not just on the drive wheels?’, I went hunting for more on that subject and found this lengthy discussion on Car Talk, illustrated with a cool video, which I am adding to the post for clickability. And because it’s important. Enjoy! 

Front wheel drives snow tires–2 or 4?

And thanks, Anonymous, whoever you are!


Driving DOs and DON’Ts, Stephen Colbert edition


Oh sure, you would all listen to Mother’s every commandment and do it because I said so. I know that. But still, it never hurts to have video support from your favorite famous TV journalist, right? Right! So I was thrilled and grateful for this perfect scenario that illustrates a generous variety of salubrious driving DOs and DON’Ts. And it’s very entertaining. Check it out…

The Colbert Report

 

Wasn’t that fun? Go ahead, watch it again. I’ll wait.

I know you’re all over it and easily identified every one, but it’s my job, so let me just recap those DOs and DON’Ts for you. I mean DON’Ts and DOs.

  • DON’T change lanes in the Lincoln Tunnel. Those are double yellow lines and this is not Vermont. Or Pennsylvania.
  • DO wear your helmet. Good boy!
  • DON’T pop wheelies in traffic. Or DO be careful – it does look like fun. 
  • DO refrain from writing notes while you’re driving. Good man!
  • DON’T use your iPhone for videos or anything else while you’re driving. EVER! Do you hear me? This means you! Every one of you. Stop it!! I mean it!!!
  • DON’T make me tell you again!
  • DO enjoy the antics of the other drivers in the tunnel, or on the bridge, or wherever.
  • DON’T get mad at them. Or get even. And whatever you do, DON’T have road rage at them. Or you. 
  • DO use your Rider Method to make up funny stories about them instead, like the jelly beans. How can you be mad at your fellow jelly beans?
  • DON’T fail to watch the Colbert Report on Comedy Central at 11:30 whenever he isn’t on vacation.
  • DO use your DVR to save it for the following day after the news if you’re too old to stay up that late.
  • DON’T forget what Stephen and I said about the distractions. They are deadly. And we DON’T want you dead.
  • DON’T believe me? Spend some quality time with this tragic collection of real life stories from D!STRACTION.GOV: 
 
  • DO learn to laugh more, rage less and text never while you’re driving. Immediately.
  • DON’T forget that mother nags you about this stuff because she cares, not because she’s crabby. And because that’s what mothers do.
And if you see Stephen Colbert, give him a Cheery Wave 🙂 TGISC! 
 

Great distracted driving news for Gram’s birthday! Hooray!!!

Hey there, remember me? Yes, it’s your long lost Mother R back from an extended holiday sabbatical. Or that’s my excuse anyway. And now that the holiday season has been well and fully celebrated, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Martin Luther King Day, Groundhog Day, Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays plus mine and Gram’s, I guess it’s finally about time to get back to work. 

Especially since there is fantastic news to share, thanks to some exciting news analysis by Matt Richtel in Sunday’s New York Times. Are you ready? Here goes! Many drivers are doing their texting in parking spaces rather than on the road! And Mother doesn’t mind one bit that it may not have anything to do with taking her advice. You may all be doing it because Oprah said so, or Ray LaHood, or the Car Talk guys, or somebody else altogether – she doesn’t care! She is just thrilled that you are doing it, and can’t thank you enough. But she will try. 

THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH!

But do you know who isn’t thrilled? Yup, the folks who are waiting for your parking spaces. Please do not worry about them. Once they realize you are making every effort to save their lives, they won’t be so cranky. In fact, they will be patient and grateful, like you are when the shoe is on the other foot, right? Of course you are! They will catch up soon, bless their little pointed heads. Maybe an assortment of exceptionally creepy PSAs from Bangalore, by way of The Inspiration Room, will help. Let’s give it a try…

Don’t Talk While he Drives 

Too disgusting? I’m sorry!

Here’s a charming video from the New York Times to cheer you up. It’s about a delightful elderly (but not at all infirm!) lady and her old car that looks like new. Enjoy 🙂

Isn’t she a dear? This nice lady is not my Gram, but she sure reminds me that I still miss her after all these many years. 

Happy birthday, Gram! 


Happy Birthday, Lincoln Highway!

And many thanks to Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac for reminding me. Mother is terrible at remembering birthdays! The Lincoln Highway is 98 years old today, if you can go by the dedication date (October 31, 1913), and I don’t know why you couldn’t. Did you know that the Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway in the United States, running from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco? I did at one time but had totally forgotten until Garrison’s timely reminder in my emailbox this morning, bless his little pointed head. It was also the first national memorial to Abraham Lincoln, and the first occasion for hitting up the Congress for highway construction funds. What a fine tradition! 

So Happy Birthday to the Lincoln Highway! 

And Happy Halloween to you!!

Cadillacs invade Barton, Vermont to set world record

Oh boy! It’s not every day that history is made right outside your combination laundry room/office window. Or mine either! That’s why I was so excited to find this monumental event reported on YouTube, because I don’t think I could have done it justice without video support. Many thanks to Lorie Seadale, The Orleans County Fair, The Guinness Book of World Records, Steve Glazier, CNN, zaqura1001, Doug Leland and all the nice Cadillac people who made it happen by joining the parade! And let’s not forget all the folks in the enthusiastic crowd, standing by in the hot sun with plenty of appreciation and cheery waves.

Why hold such a big event in little Barton, VT? You will probably not be surprised to learn that it’s not because Mother lives here, but because Henry Leland, the creator of Cadillac did. Here’s Mr. Leland himself, portrayed by one of his younger relatives, to explain…

Too bad Springsteen didn’t show up, but it was a great day for Cadillac and Barton anyway! Hurray!!

And just for this one special ceremonial occasion, Mother won’t fuss about seat belts. 

Laugh more without Keith Olbermann

I know, I know, I promised you more laughs in 2011. And where are they? Good question!

How did I know that Keith Olbermann, my ace driving humor resource was going to quit MSNBC? Sure, many of you may think of him as a crazy smarty-pants liberal nut, but I remember good old Countdown with Keith Olbermann fondly as a rich and generous source of silly driving videos. So naturally I was thrilled to learn that he was returning to TV in June, and delighted to see that the goofy video segment of the program returned with him, although I am a tiny bit disappointed that Current TV doesn’t have MSNBC’s fancy and flexible embed code that made it possible to cut out just the best parts to share with you, which means that we’re stuck watching the whole segment on YouTube instead. On the bright side though, Keith always begins with an interesting trivia treat. Would you like to see an example? Here you go…

Lest you think I totally gave up on laughter while Keith was away, I’ll also include a few samples of alternatives that I found and left open in my tabs all summer but until now was too lazy to post. Sorry!

Here’s an amusing cartoon that most of us can relate to in one way or another, courtesy of my friend Marcia and the fine monthly humor newspaper Funny Times (always good for a laugh!)…

Another Funny Times contribution to auto hilarity comes from Dave Barry, and it’s easier to read from his blog, so let’s go there next…

TRAFFIC WOES DRIVE US CRAZY

Yes, I know it’s ancient, but it’s still funny, isn’t it? And more or less just as true as it was in 2004? Well then, if Funny Times can make us laugh by going back in time, Mother can too! And is grateful for the excuse to do it! Thank you Funny Times and Dave Barry! And Marcia! For helping us remember our Rider Method:

Life is short; the road is long. Lighten up!

I’m going to go close those tabs now. You all have a nice day 🙂
And thanks for stopping by.

Mother’s shouldn’t be belated Back to School safety message

And why shouldn’t it? Because school ought not to start before Labor Day. That’s why. Any questions? Good, let’s move on, beginning with the classics, like behaving prudently around school buses and in school zones and watching out for the kiddos wherever they are. Do NOT hit them! Ever!! If you could use a refresher, check out this list of Back to School Safety tips that was kindly published by the nice folks at AARP.

Are you wondering what back to school safety message would be complete without harping at least a little about NOT texting while driving? NOT this one! And since some other nice folks at BMW have kindly published a charming little video that makes the point much more beautifully than Mother ever could on her limited budget, she will gratefully take advantage of their generosity instead of making her own. Thanks, BMW!

For a nice change of pace, we’re picking on the parents here instead of the teens, so as to be crystal clear that NOBODY of any age should be texting while driving. Period. Got it?

Let’s finish up with a little driving-to-school safety quiz from Riders on the Road, shall we? Are you ready?

Here’s an exercise in practical arrangement of your driving activities. See if you can find the flaw in the following morning routine:

1)      Buckle the kids into their seats securely

2)      Start the minivan

3)      Pull out in front of a nice lady in a red Subaru

4)      Wander along in slow motion, crossing the double yellow lines every now and then

5)      Wake up

6)      Turn into the elementary school parking lot

7)      Deliver the little tykes safely to school

What’s out of place here? Right! I’d move step 5 up to first place, wouldn’t you? That could eliminate steps 3 and 4 altogether and vastly increase the odds that 7 will be accomplished successfully. Good work!

Did I say finish up? Just kidding! Because there’s always one more thing to nag you about, and this time it’s drowsy driving. Seriously, you know I hate to pester you but it’s my job, so I must. Would you like to hear it form the experts instead? Here you go …

Now let’s get some sleep! Nitey nite! And please, have a happy healthy and safe school year!