The Book

Become a happier, healthier, safer driver with:

Riders on the Road

ROTR2011FrontCoverWP

How to Laugh More and Rage Less with The Rider Method

Is it great literature? Certainly not!

Is it the complete definitive work on driving? Nope.

What is it?

It’s one of those charming little humor books that, oh by the way, shows you the way to a happier, safer driving experience. The second edition is bigger and better, filled with many more entertaining stories, provocative questions and smart driving advice for regular American drivers like you and me. Whether you’re a wolf or a lamb behind the wheel, this book’s for you.

Would you like to see a few samples?

Go ahead and click on the chapter links in the table of contents down there.

Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface: Who Are These Riders?
1 The Word According to Mom & Dad
2 Let’s Read
3 Don’t You Just
4 Doesn’t It Scare You When…
5 Sometimes I Wonder
6 Do You Know How Fast You Were Going?
7 What’s the Deal With…
8 Way More Than 20 Questions
9 Here and There
10 Patricia’s Pointers
11 The Lost Art of Merging Well
12 Patricia’s Preaching
13 Aha!
14 Patricia’s Poetry
15 Another Modest Proposal
16 The Rider Method
Handy Websites
Bibliography
Index


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Let’s Read

MOVE IT – IT’S THE LAW

MOVE ACCIDENTS AWAY FROM TRAFFIC

Don’t you like the first part better by itself?

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SPEED LIMIT ENFORCED BY AIRCRAFT

Would it be worth a ticket to see an officer swoop down in an airplane to deliver it?
I think so, don’t you?

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HIGHWAY SAFETY CORRIDOR

(with a complete list of speeding fines)

I’m guessing they’re higher than usual but can’t say for sure –

I was going too fast to read the whole thing.

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DRIVE CAREFULLY

SHARE THE ROAD

COURTESY PAYS

Do you suppose this kind of sign works? If it does, we should order more of them.

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Do you think we have too many 4 way stop signs when it’s necessary to supplement regular ones with another sign that tells us CROSS TRAFFIC DOES NOT STOP?

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SLOW DOWN OR DIE

END SAFETY ZONE

SECRET NUCLEAR BUNKER car

WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES AND SCORPIONS

AGGRESSIVE DRIVER HIGH CRASH AREA

Yikes!

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LOW FLYING AIRCRAFT

So I guess we should try to stay out of their way? Or duck?

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$1,000 FINE FOR LITTERING ENFORCED
This sign is cleverly positioned in the midst of a large pile of trash

along the side of the highway. Sure it is.

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Sometimes I Wonder

Do You Ever…

Say “Take over, Scotty’” when you turn on the cruise control?

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Think you know things about people by the car they’re driving? Are you sure?

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Ask the clerk at the DMV office if you should put down today’s hair color or your real one?
Do they really expect it to stay the same for ten years until your license expires? Ha!

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Think you must be invisible?

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Worry about what the other drivers are thinking about you? Why?

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Use a particular vehicle in the other lane and compare your progress?

Do you feel like the winner when you’re ahead?

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Start going because the guy next to you is, before you look to see that the guy in front of you isn’t?

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Wish all the other cars would go home and leave you alone?

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Think of all the cars in your lane as your team? Do you cheer them on?

Are you disappointed when they let you down? Say, by letting in a car from another lane?
Do you wish you were the coach and could bench them when they act like that?

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Wonder if they don’t know you’re there, or don’t care?

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Miss the exit you wanted because your autopilot was going somewhere else?

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Duck when you’re pulling into a low parking garage with your tall truck or SUV?

Don’t feel bad; we’ve all done it.

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Wish that the Mirage in front of you really was a mirage?

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Way More Than 20 Questions

When is it time to hang up your car keys and quit driving?  This is a tough question, and I only hope I’ll have the grace to face it like a responsible grownup when the time comes. I hope you will too. Turning in your license means giving up a big chunk of your independence and that’s scary for most of us. Yet the alternative is scary for the others, so we need to buck up and do the right thing.

As usual, AAA can help, with a CD called Roadwise Review that older motorists can use in the privacy of their own homes to evaluate the state of their driving related physical and mental abilities. And for the computer averse, there’s a brochure. AAA also offers a Mature Operator driving course, and so does AARP and the National Safety Council.

If you’re not sure, pick up the phone. There’s plenty of help out there.

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Why do so many of us seem to think it’s our duty to punish the other bad drivers?

Shouldn’t we be leaving that to their mothers? Or their spouses? Yes.

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Do you think litterbugs throw their trash on the road to make it feel more like home out there?

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Is road rage a fight or flight thing?

It does tend to happen when drivers are having trouble flying, doesn’t it?

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Why do people pass you on the highway within a half mile of the exit where they’re getting off anyway?  Because they can, I suppose. Why do you care?

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Nature or nurture: are inconsiderate drivers born that way, or is it learned behavior?

And why isn’t there a colored bracelet, a magnetic car ribbon and a race for the cure?

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How can I, driving a pickup truck, be in a Saturn’s blind spot?

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When your parking lot is a sheet of ice, should you clean it up or post a sign that says

Slippery When Ice Present with a cute little picture of a stick figure falling down?

This one’s easy for you and me, but parking lot owners don’t all seem to get it.

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Don’t you think the airlines are knocking themselves out

trying to make driving look better by comparison?

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Patricia’s Pointers

Because I Said So

Whenever 2 or more cars are gathered together behind you, pull over and let them go by.

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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.

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Remember, pedestrians always have the right of way, even when they don’t.

You are never allowed to hit them, no matter the provocation.

Neither am I. Nobody is. Is that clear?

Don’t make me tell you again!

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Right on red I think we’ll all agree was one of the foremost driving innovations of the 20th century (well, except for the Model T maybe, or the left turn lane, or possibly the interstate highway system). Still, some of us don’t always remember the rules, do we? Rules like you’re supposed to actually stop and look for oncoming traffic before you turn, and watch for pedestrians. You are never allowed to run over pedestrians in order to execute a right turn on red. I am not kidding about this. You must also be alert for evidence of those green arrows on the other side. You can’t see the arrows themselves of course; that would be like cheating. But when there’s a stream of vehicles from the left turn lane across the way heading right at you, it’s a clue that a green arrow has given them the right of way. Don’t hit them. If you live in one of those helpful (or bossy) states that put NO TURN ON RED signs up because they don’t trust us to handle this one ourselves, please disregard the previous sentence. Finally, try not to block others from turning right on red by stopping in the right lane at a light when you’re going straight. You don’t like it when they do it to you.

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You know, if you signal a few seconds before you change lanes, it gives
the driver in your blind
spot a chance to get out of it, or find the horn and
honk it, before you

sideswipe him. What a concept, eh?

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Always say excuse me and give a cheery, thankful wave when other drivers let you in,

whether they want to or not.

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Nature abhors a vacuum, especially in the left lane. Fill it now! Or get over

so the next guy can do the job. You don’t want to mess with Mother Nature, now do you?

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There is no reward for going under the speed limit, no matter how low you go, so stop trying.

You’ll only be disappointed.

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Aha!

Here is my report on what I learned about a few things while researching and writing this book:

Jake Brakes are used to slow down a diesel engine truck, usually by using engine compression. They’re manufactured by Jacobs Vehicle Systems. They (and other kinds of engine brakes) can be noisy if used improperly, so residents tend to dislike them nearby. In fact, although municipal sign makers often use the terms interchangeably (probably because Jake is a cooler word and shorter than engine), all engine brakes are not Jake brakes and all Jake brakes are not engine brakes. The key here is that if it’s loud, the community will not like it, so knock it off! I’m told that getting your muffler fixed will do the trick. And sign people, why don’t you say NO NOISY BRAKING instead of NO JAKE BRAKING. That’s what you really mean anyway, and then you’re not being so unfair to the nice folks at Jacobs Vehicle Systems.

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An answer to that question about people who obstruct traffic in the left lane

Hey, guess what? I stumbled on the answer (well, an answer) to this puzzling question right in the Sunday paper. And it was not the answer I was looking for! As a matter of fact I think it reflects rather badly on my judgment as displayed on many occasions elsewhere in the book. Here I am giving folks credit for not being mean-spirited idiots (for the most part with good reason, I might add), when this mean-spirited idiot comes along and publicly makes it clear that at least in this case I was dead wrong. Sorry. But much as I hate to admit to it, this is nonfiction and I must be truthful, so I will tell you about the letter from Mr. or Ms. Smarty Pants, although I am not using the name because I certainly don’t want anything unfortunate to accidentally happen if one or more of the poor victims should identify him or her.

This weirdo actually enjoys torturing the people back there, and figures they deserve it because they’re predictable and dumb. After they’ve become completely hysterical and their little eyes are bugging out for a while, our writer finally gets over to let them go by and pretends to be innocent.

If you are reading this, and you know who you are, please seek counseling now; you have some serious issues. Boy, I sure don’t want to be around when he or she finds out that Colorado passed a law prohibiting that kind of behavior and starts looking for a new outlet for those sadistic urges.

Perhaps our nutty neighbor will move on to another state, or better yet, another country. We can only hope!

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The Rider Method

Yes, You Can

Do your passengers seem jumpy? Are they shrinking into the seat, clutching at the handle and gasping or screaming way too often? Are you at your wits end trying to deal with the abominable behavior of those horrible drivers that have you surrounded? These are clues that you can benefit from The Rider Method. You can enjoy a more salubrious (that’s still safe and healthy, not slow) driving experience. Read on.

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to blame that so and so in the other car, and have yourself a nasty fit over it, but it is not his fault that you’re angry. He can drive poorly all he wants, but he absolutely does not have the power to control your response, and neither does she. They never will; it’s your call. You can insist on having a good hearty laugh over their odd behavior instead. Aren’t you the lucky one?

We like to call this driving outlook The Rider Method. Or maybe it would be more truthful (and I am) to say that I like to call it The Rider Method. I may be the only Rider who subscribes wholeheartedly (so far) to the RM, but I’m the oldest so they listen to me. Well, that or (more likely) they’re a kindly bunch (they are) and they’re humoring me (they usually do, bless their little pointed heads).

And what is this Rider Method, you ask? It’s very simple, really…

Life is short; the road is long. Lighten up. That’s it.

I like to think of it as a Hakuna Matata variation for driving, an anger free philosophy. The Rider Method was born a few years back when at long last, I recognized two key aspects of driving that I’d been missing until then: 1) that being furious with other drivers was making me more and more miserable, but wasn’t actually improving their driving any, and 2) that anger was optional. Yes, it came as quite a surprise to learn that I was not required to become irate whenever other drivers misbehaved. I could make another choice! That was quite an epiphany, let me tell you.

It’s not exactly intuitive, is it, to be tolerant of others on the road? In my case (and I may not be the only one), for many years it seemed almost instinctive to compete with the other drivers, and to get mad at them too, until finally I thought to wonder why on earth I was doing this. It isn’t NASCAR. There’s no prize money or endorsement deal for beating out the other guy, or penalty for letting him go. It’s just as easy and far more pleasant to laugh at or ignore him instead of pitching a fit. It’s not hard to do at all once you get the hang of it, but still it doesn’t come naturally, or at least not to many of us. The more natural response seems to be what I call that awful feeling. You know the one, don’t you? When you feel totally frustrated and persecuted, all twisted and tense inside, almost driven to strike back? It’s been quite some time now since I felt that way myself, but I can still remember it vividly. I guess you could describe it more simply as rage.

Sure, convincing yourself that a situation is more amusing than infuriating, when your self isn’t buying it, may be a challenge, especially at first. I’m afraid you’re fighting some pretty entrenched human nature here. But the good news is that you can win. You can isolate that rage response and banish it. You are in charge. Trust me on this; I’ve been there.
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