Category Archives: salubrious driving

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.

 

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! 


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!

Want to save money and the planet? Slow down!

Don’t you just HATE it when they’re right? Especially when we’re wrong and are forced to admit it, although we’d rather find a way to pretend they must be mistaken? Would you rather I speak for myself and quit including you, although I suspect many of us are in the same boat? OK. Well I HATE being told to slow down to save money and the planet. So there.

 What’s this all about? Stupid ridiculous gas prices, that’s what. Wandering about Care2 (my personal favorite petition website), I stumbled on this old but still pretty relevant piece on why we should slow down, among other things. And check the air in our tires (yes, I HATE doing that too). They stopped just short of telling us to lose weight, although I could see they were going there. And at least in my case, they’re probably right about that too. So now having crabbed more than enough about being blessed with some excellent smarty-pants advice, I will share it with you here:

Gas: Tremendous Amount Wasted by Speeding

Thank you, Care2! We appreciate your caring, or at least I do, even when I don’t care to follow your advice. But that doesn’t mean I won’t reluctantly admit that it’s for our own good and we ought to. And maybe we will.

So what was I doing wandering about Care2? I was checking on the progress of the national Salubrious Driving Day petition. And I’m sorry to say it wasn’t good. In 2008, we had 60 signatures, in 2009-10 there were 28, and so far in 2011: a grand total of 6, including me and only one other American driver. The trend is clearly in the wrong direction. It’s my fault, I know; I haven’t even mentioned it lately, never mind asked or nagged you about it. But 11/22 will be here before we know it, so if you haven’t signed already (and many thanks to all of you who have!) would you do your dear mother who cares about you a big favor and go do it right now, please? Thank you very much! If I could blog you some cookies I would!

Let there be peace on the road

Do you think it may be too late for an official federal declaration this year? They do have more important things to think about in Washington, don’t they? And honestly I wouldn’t feel right about bothering them, as monumental a priority as this might be. On the other hand, Congress does seem to be able to manage critical items like new names for post offices, so we may still have a chance. Why don’t we just gather as many signatures as we can and give it a shot? And if it doesn’t work out, we can always celebrate on the big day (that’s November 22nd) quietly but universally amongst ourselves, eh? Sure we can. It will be fun! And salubrious 🙂

Seriously, has it been THAT LONG since Mother nagged you about distracted driving?


Yes, it’s hard to believe, I know, but it has been far too long, and I can only imagine how disappointed you must be! Sometimes, when Mother’s just too busy to come up with her own smarty pants advice, it’s time to call in the professionals, so let’s see what the ace Car Talk guys from Boston and NPR have to say about this:

Top 10 Signs You Should Pull Over Immediately

Did I tell you they were smart? Yes I did, in Chapter 10. It’s OK if you forgot; I’ve been known to do that myself.

Could you use some more wicked smart car advice? Check out the Car Talk website:

Car Talk

You all have fun over there now, while I go make dinner.

Happy Trails!

Those Vermont drivers!

 So I was chatting with a very nice guy at the League of Vermont Writers meeting recently, and when I told him about how we Riders strive to make driving better around here, he immediately responded that Vermont drivers sure need the help because they are awful! You’re not going to believe this, but I was speechless! Here I am feeling as if I’m cheating by hiding out in the land of no traffic jams or people blocking the left lane (mostly because there is no left lane), and thanking my lucky stars every time I hit the road, when I find out that an actual Vermonter thinks that’s insane. Go figure! Oh sure, we’re a little short on passing zones, and there are occasions when you’re going to get stuck behind somebody poking along, especially in fall foliage or ski season, but on the whole, when it comes to irritating driver behavior, Vermont has a severe shortage and that’s the way we like it.

Here’s an example: Last week I was sitting at a red light (yes, we do have a few), the second car back and we were both turning left. I know this because we were both using our left turn signals. There was no green arrow or turning lane, and normally when the light changed we (and the cars behind us) would have waited until all the folks going straight in the opposite direction went by, but not this time. Because the first driver across the way kindly motioned the guy in front of me to hustle on through ahead of him. And the third one did the same for me. You can be sure he got a very enthusiastic cheery wave in return for his exceptional courtesy 🙂 So you can see why in my book, Vermont drivers are AOK!

Thanks, neighbors!

 

And rage less in 2011

Mother normally tries to avoid getting all preachy on you (OK, maybe a little nagging), but she started the week with a Daily Word on Monday that fits The Rider Method to a T, so hopes you won’t mind my sharing my favorite part with my cheery friends:

I interact with many people each day, from friends, family and co-workers to sales people, fellow drivers and passersby. While some relationships may not seem especially significant, they provide opportunities for me to positively impact the lives of others.

I might be the only one to show another person kindness or consideration today. A simple caring gesture or acknowledgment can bring light to their day. I choose my words carefully and let my connection with others be a blessing in their lives and mine. We all share this life experience together.

If you’d like to read the complete message, you can find it here:

Daily Word

And as John said: Let there be peace on the road. This means you!

May all your travels be salubrious, in 2011 and beyond!