Category Archives: salubrious driving

Mother has a dream

Would it be in bad taste to steal, I mean build on, the Rev. Dr. King’s powerful concept? I don’t think so; he seems like the kind of guy who would be glad to share, especially for a good cause. Sure, Mother’s dream is somewhat different from the inspiring dream we celebrate today, but it’s an excellent dream nonetheless. Would you like to hear it? Here goes…

I have a dream that one day all of us will travel together in peace on the roads of America. And I mean ALL of us, from the tiniest pedestrian to the biggest monster truck. Yes, even the bikers, the Hummers and the pokey little Subarus.

I have a dream that safety belts everywhere will be buckled and helmets will be worn every time, not because it’s the law but because we know better, and we are much too responsible to stick our family, friends and emergency responders with the tragic consequences of our carelessness.

I have a dream that we will watch where we’re going, avoid distractions, and absolutely never, ever, text or chat on the phone while we’re driving. or get behind the wheel while impaired.

I have a dream that we will keep our windshields and windows clean, and our mirrors and lights too (and clean means not just dirt, but ice, snow and crap on the dashboard or the back window), because visibility is a key factor in getting there in one piece, without smashing into anyone or anything, and because my Dad, the father of salubrious driving, said so.

I have a dream that drivers will merge in a safe and orderly fashion, and remember to take turns when the situation calls for it (say at lane closures or 4-way stops), that they will refrain from excessive honking and taking up two parking spaces, that they will use their signals when turning or changing lanes and never tailgate or obstruct the traffic behind them. And if it isn’t too much trouble, I’d like them to try not to go too slow or too fast.

I have a dream that we will treat our fellow travelers with patience and courtesy always, greet them with cheery waves occasionally, and never, ever display rude gestures or aggressive behavior.

I have a dream that from I-5 to I-95, I-10 to I-94, US 1 to US 101, the Lincoln Highway to Route 66, all of God’s licensed drivers will travel together in salubrious harmony all the days of our lives, unless we can think of an excuse to just stay home.

And that’s my dream – considerably less grand than the original, but still worth doing. So if you don’t mind, let’s start making my dream come true first thing tomorrow, shall we? Please?

But tonight, I’ll sign off with great thanks and a hearty Happy Birthday to the Reverend Doctor King, may he rest in peace. I like to think of him looking down from heaven and smiling at this wonderful performance by the 4th graders from Watkins Elementary School in Washington, DC (courtesy of PBS NewsHour):

Mother discovered a brilliant idea: Drivetime Yoga

Hey, look what I found!

Well, it would be more truthful (and I am) to say that it found me, or to be slightly more accurate, the smart lady who created it found me. Thanks, Elaine!

Drivetime yoga offers a cure for stress, strain and general crankiness on the road:

I just sent in my order yesterday, so stay tuned for my full report after it arrives, but I can see already by looking at the generous free download that this is going to be a winner. Check it out!

Drivetime Yoga

Traffic news around the world

Let’s start with the bad news. Well, bad news if you’re driving a truck on the Beijing-Tibet highway. If like most of us you’re not, and you were looking for a reason to count your blessings today, this would be a good one. It’s taking these poor guys over a week to go 60 miles, sometimes making less than a third of a mile in a day. I read about this in the Wall Street Journal, and would include a link to the article and photos, but the WSJ is getting grubby about sharing their stuff online. Too bad. Lucky for us, the Christian Science Monitor is much more generous. Check out the amazing photos: China’s huge traffic jam, as well as a full report that notes the jam seems to have mysteriously disappeared (China traffic jam vanishes overnight?), just like they do here in the USA. Except that here it doesn’t usually take a week, or even overnight. Sometimes we even get home in time for a late dinner. Does that make you feel any better about the hour or two here and there you spend sitting in traffic? I didn’t think so.

But we can cheer up! Because world traffic news is not all bad. A delightful group in England, called FiT (for filter in turn) is promoting the notion (and with good reason, apparently) that traffic lights (which their spokesman compares to multi-colored acne) are entirely more trouble, congestion-wise, than they’re worth, safety-wise. And they have good evidence in the form of towns in Sweden and England where the lights have been eliminated with great success. It’s all based on the concept that without all the useless and irritating interference of traffic controls, most drivers are naturally quite courteous and cooperative. And safe. As are the pedestrians and bicyclists around them. That they can and do figure out how to take turns and move along nicely. Are you thinking this too good to be true? That my Pollyanna side is making up a charming little fairy story? No, seriously, here’s the YouTube video to prove it:

And here’s the one about Portishead, the town in England where the traffic-light free trial went so well that they decided to made it permanent:

Maybe we should give it a try over here? I think it’s a lovely idea, don’t you?

Summer driving season is here, so be careful out there!

Here are a few things to watch out for:

FROGS! But only in Greece, which leaves most of us in the clear, thank goodness. As if the poor Greeks haven’t had enough to worry about lately, millions of frogs forced closure of a road there the other day, due to cars skidding off the road while trying to avoid smooshing the poor little critters. Would you like to see? It’s rather creepy, but not actually as bad as I expected.

Here in the US the trouble this week is cancer from your car window. Yikes! According to my favorite magazine, The Week, as reported on, researchers at St. Louis University have discovered that skin cancer is more common on the left side of our faces. Yup, the one that’s getting all the rays from the driver’s side window. And you know what that means, don’t you? Right. Drivers, apply your sun screen!

But that’s not all. Thanks to a bunch of traffic cameras and the kindness of Romans909 who compiled the video and my friend Tom who sent it along, we have a vivid demonstration set to music of how much trouble can be waiting for us if we’re not careful around those busy intersections:

Double yikes! You know, I’d have thought that being pretty well known as the law, red lights ought to be obeyed on their own, without the extra help of a commandment, but I can see now that I may have been wildly overoptimistic there. So here you go:

Stop for the *$#%! red lights!

Of course, first you need to see the lights, which brings us back to Mother’s most recent obsession (and she’s in very good company, I might add), which is PAY ATTENTION! Don’t text or chat or read or shave or any of the other bizarre and inappropriate activities that we’ve been hearing about lately. Just DRIVE! And do it nicely, please. Thank you.

OK, just one more commandment before we go:
Have a Happy and Salubrious Memorial Day Weekend!

And last but absolutely not least, let’s all remember them always…

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Goofy weather: Climate Change?

Or just good old Mother Nature’s crazy sense of humor?

Good question! Mother R is all in favor of a crazy sense of humor, and appreciates Mother N’s going to all this trouble for a good laugh, but she’s beginning to suspect this may be more than just an elaborate April Fools joke.

I know my friends in the south didn’t begrudge our enjoying a relatively mild, snow-free winter up here in the Northeast Kingdom while you all were getting slammed with cold and snow, but in the spirit of fair’s fair, I think I should share that after our warmest March ever, we’re now having our third April snowfall this year, and it’s not over yet.

Want to see? Here’s a shot from this morning…

Poor little robin.

And apparently it’s not just us. According to USA Today by way of my favorite news magazine, The Week, this was the warmest March globally in the entire 130 years that the National Climatic Data Center has kept records. Really, Mother N!

So what does this have to do with driving? Well, it’s a stretch, but the goofy weather theme is a wonderful excuse to share this goofy safe driving in the snow performance by a couple of extremely goofy weathermen. And they’re right. Enjoy!

Mother Says: when to honk at other drivers

Here it is practically February already, and still I haven’t shared the good news from from my terrific New Years visit to NYC with the family, so here we go: I am happy and astonished to report that it was oddly quiet and peaceful, for New York. Would you like to know why? Look …

Yes, signs that threaten a $350 fine for honking are posted prominently all over the city. Great idea, New York! Horns do have a purpose, but annoying everyone within earshot because another driver is annoying you is not it! To quote Mother Rider (by way of an excerpt from Riders on the Road: How to Laugh More and Rage Less with The Rider Method):

Save your horn to alert your fellow motorists to danger,
not that you’re mad. They really don’t care and it’s annoying to the others around you.

And to quote a genuine New Yorker, Irwin Arieff (in an excerpt from Congestion Honking, The New York Sun, April 11, 2008):

Horns were invented to help prevent accidents, not to give people migraines.

Mind you the law doesn’t prohibit honking ever, only in a non-emergency situation, which in my view is just right. Lord knows, who among us doesn’t need the occasional helpful reminder that we’re about to smear someone in our blind spot while making a theoretically innocent lane change? Or backing up into one of those invisible posts or short little cars or worse yet, people? By all means there are times when we need those horns and need them immediately! Which is why I hate that they’re in different spots in different vehicles, but that’s a subject for another post.

For now, let me just be clear that Mother R approves of the honking ordinance in New York, and others in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Antonio and many more (check the article link above for the complete list). Because while she still believes that they ought to be unnecessary because we ought to be smart enough to know better anyway, she must admit that at least in New York they have made a big difference. So despite Mr. Arieff’s contention that the city can and should become even quieter with increased enforcement, she is grateful to the many New Yorkers who comply for a more pleasant visit as compared to the constant deafening noise she remembers from the last time she was there many years ago.

Thank you, New York!

And for you honkers (especially the ones who are doing it to urge the car in front of you to block the intersection) and you honkees who are intimidated by the bullies behind you into blocking the box although you know better, stop it right now, both of you! To quote once again from Riders on the Road: How to Laugh More and Rage Less with The Rider Method:

Don’t ever block the intersection. I’m sorry you’re stuck in traffic, but it’s not their fault and you’re not allowed to punish them for it.

And from Mr. Arieff, the New Yorker (quoting from Congestion Honking again):

honking creates congestion by pressuring drivers to
“block the box” – to zip into an intersection, rather than wait.

But once again, New York comes to the rescue with helpful signs everywhere that threaten a fine and points on your license for bad box blocking behavior. Like this…

Don't Block the BoxCombined with actual boxes painted on the street to define the intersection, these signs and the penalties that go along with them are supposed to reduce traffic congestion. Do they work? Sadly, no, at least so far as I was able to observe. Come on, New Yorkers, you can do better than that! And don’t think you folks who live elsewhere are exempt from Mother’s orders just because you don’t have signs and boxes painted on your streets. You know better.

Let’s recap, shall we? These are the two simple rules for today, rules we will observe every day:
  • No unnecessary honking!
  • No intersection blocking!
Isn’t it lovely to be nagged about something other than distracted driving for a change?
You’re welcome!

Distracted driving: STILL texting & chatting on the road?

I know, I know, I’ve been harping on this for quite some time now. Does mother need to tell you how to make me stop? That’s right! I will stop nagging you as soon as you do what I say, and I say that you must STOP texting or chatting on the phone as you drive. So have you stopped? Yes? Good for you!

What? Some of you haven’t?

OK, you’ve asked for it; I’m calling in the big guns. If you won’t listen to me, then maybe you’ll pay more attention when you hear it from Oprah. That’s right, Oprah herself has turned her attention to this critical issue, bless her heart. In fact, she devoted an entire show to America’s New Deadly Obsession, complete with custom t-shirts and a very catchy slogan (Don’t tempt f8, that txt can w8). But it’s more than just a show. Oprah is starting a movement, the No Phone Zone movement. Thank you so much, dear Oprah!

If you have time, mother recommends the entire episode. It is powerful, and true. Or you can select from various segments, or check out interesting related stories. And if you do nothing else, at the very least PLEASE go to the No Phone Zone to take the pledge.

But I know you’re busy, so in case you don’t have time to head over to Oprah’s place and watch a video, why don’t I just recap mother’s complete series of posts on the topic. The graphics and real life examples are vastly superior on Oprah, but you can find the basic message here…

Have I issued a commandment lately?
Why you should NEVER text while driving
Good news!
Texting is not the only thing teens should NOT do while driving
And driving is not the only thing we should NOT do while texting

Oprah and I are not kidding. This is every bit as dangerous as driving drunk. It is life and death. So just don’t do it, OK? OK! Enough said.

Well, except that mother is SO proud of all of you who are already doing the right thing. Thank you, darlings. Over and out.

Texting: not the only thing teens should NOT do while driving

Horseplay is also out. Many of us may think that goes without saying, and with good reason, but a recent story from my favorite news magazine, The Week, about a tragic accident in Arizona, reminds us that it never hurts to be crystal clear on this point. In fact, I believe this rises to the level of a commandment:

There shall be NO horseplay in and around a moving vehicle.

And while we can thank a grieving Arizona teen who ran over and killed her own brother by accident (while playing chicken) for this reminder, there is no reason to limit this rule to teens. All drivers would do well to remember that screwing around with cars is dangerous and inappropriate. Always.

Listen to Sgt. Ed Wessing, the officer from Arizona, who is quoted in the story, “Driving is not the time to horseplay, whether it’s hood surfing or doing this type of thing.” Mother Rider doesn’t even know what hood surfing is, and doesn’t want to. She feels quite comfortable forbidding it sight unseen, and thanks Sgt. Wessing for the heads up.

Finally, in case you’re still hazy on the DON’T text and drive commandment, you can find extra clarity at these previous posts: Have I issued a commandment lately? and Why you should NEVER text while driving. And while we’re being perfectly clear, let me repeat: this commandment is NOT limited to teens. Nobody is allowed to text and drive. Period.

Remember to stay salubrious out there, would you please? Because you know mother worries. OK? OK!

Mother R’s belated but sincere wishes for a Salubrious 2010

Could you use an extra resolution? How about one that will make your hours on the road happier and less stressful? Say, something like this nice happy, safe and healthy driving pledge:

I swear (but not solemnly!) that I will lighten up, laugh more, drive with care and courtesy, lay off the whining and cursing, avoid rude gestures of all kinds and generally leave the other drivers alone, except for the occasional Cheery Rider Wave. I will be salubrious always, and share the way of safe and healthy driving with all my friends (and they are my friends!) on the road. And I mean it!

You can resolve quietly to yourself, or head on over to The Club page to take the pledge and join the movement. There’s a stylish official Rider Method bumper sticker in it for you! And plenty of support and encouragement from your extended Rider family and friends.

Finally, since I couldn’t say it better myself, why don’t we ring in the new year with Dad’s favorite commandment:

“Let there be peace on the road, and let the drivers thereon be salubrious, even happy, and their passengers too. And hey, why not the bike riders and the pedestrians while we’re at it. Let’s all get salubrious. Now! This means you!

And here’s a word from Mom: “Bless your little pointed heads.”

Remember, life is short; the road is long. Let’s all lighten up and have a cheery, salubrious 2010!

Happy Trails!