Author Archives: Mother Rider

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 🙂

Hurray! Mother’s a Finalist!!

Well, technically I guess it would be more accurate to say that Riders on the Road: How to Laugh More and Rage Less with The Rider Method is a finalist, in Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards (we’re way at the bottom of the page under Travel). Mother is only the humble author. And if Mother Rider, the self-appointed smarty-pants queen of salubrious driving instruction can’t toot her own horn (hahaha), then I would like to know who can. No, don’t tell me, I’m going to do it anyway. Oh sure, I suppose it would make more sense to wait until tomorrow to find out if I’m actually a winner, but where’s the fun in that? I’m just happy to appreciate (and brag about) being a Finalist right now. For the second time! Have I mentioned that last year I was a Finalist in the 2010 International Book Awards (Humor), and that in 2009 it was the Readers Favorite Bronze Award (Humor)? Well, I should have.

Hey, this may just be the inspiration I need to get over my long lazy streak, I mean sabbatical, and get back to work pestering and entertaining you all with lectures and stories about our more dangerous and hilarious driving habits.

In fact, thanks to an amazing illustrated email from my friend Tom, I’m prepared to start today, with this crazy true story:

Now THAT’S Drunk!!!!!


Now here’s a hard core drinker and one tough Dodge truck. The driver hit and sheared off the light post, then kept driving about 2 miles to a bar, where he stopped for more beer!

How impaired do you have to be to NOT notice that you are carrying a stop light? (I wonder if the light was green?) The truck was towed about 2.5 miles to the towing yard, with the light still pinched between the tow hooks and the bumper bent around it. It took several good hard pulls with a backhoe to get the pole free.

Now that’s what you call drunk driving!

“Life’s tough… It’s even tougher if you’re stupid.” (John Wayne)

No word on the drunk, who probably still has a headache.

DO NOT DRIVE when you are this drunk. In fact, DO NOT DRIVE when you are drunk at all. Mother’s always glad for the opportunity to end with a commandment. Thanks, Tom!

And thank you all for your kind attention. It’s great to be back!

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!

Creepy spider news for some Mazda owners


Mother is NOT scared of spiders. Really. Well, as long as they don’t bite her. But she doesn’t want them in her car either. And neither should Mazda6 owners, so Mazda is recalling 65,000 of them (the cars, not the spiders; who knows how many spiders?) to be inspected, and any unwelcome residents evicted. According to this alarming report in the Los Angeles Times (Spiders may have entered Mazda cars before assembly, expert says), the little buggers have been found hiding in a tiny hose near the fuel tank, and if they get out of hand could cause fuel leaks and even fires. Yikes! Thank goodness my Mazda is a truck! But before you Mazda6 owners freak out totally, I hasten to add that there have been no reports of spider bites, cracked gas tanks, or related accidents or injuries as a result of this problem. So if the little stowaways aren’t causing any trouble, why all the fuss? How were they found in the first place? Did they leave a mess? Or make too much noise? Did their mothers report them missing? The article doesn’t say. Sorry.

Would you like to see a picture? Here’s the illustration from the LA Times:

Oh, did you mean the spider?

Here you go, courtesy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which also has the complete spider scoop on its website, for those who need to know more: Spider Bites? Look for a Sac Spider.

Thanks, Huskers! Go Big Red!!

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!


Better be careful out there!

So were you worried about where we would get our silly driving videos now that Keith Olbermann’s gone? Yeah, me too. But for now, a nice fellow from Georgia is taking care of us, bless his little pointed head, with this surprising video. Remember that still photo of the scary black helicopter behind the Speed Enforced by Aircraft sign? Well, this takes it to a whole new level. Check it out…

Are you scared yet? No? Then maybe you should check out Nicholas Kristof’s attack vehicle alternative universe from last Sunday’s New York Times, with bumper bayonets and private tanks…

 Watch Out! The Assault Vehicle is Loose!

Too bad we don’t have a video of this! And no, I’m sorry, you can’t have one. A tank I mean. Or a video either, unless that nice man in Georgia maybe? Let’s keep an eye on him.


Stop the Regulatory Insanity!

If you had the slightest doubt that President Obama was onto something when he suggested improvements in federal regulations, get a load of this …

Federal regulations limit truck weight on interstate highways to 80,000 pounds. That sounds reasonable enough, except that Quebec, New York, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are permanently exempt. So when perfectly legal 100,000 pound trucks come rolling over the border into Vermont or Maine, they must hustle right off the interstate and poke along the narrow back roads over mountains and through little country towns. Brilliant, eh?

Theoretically, regulations like this are supposed to be about safety. So what is it that miraculously makes a 100,000 pound truck that’s unsafe in Maine or Vermont suddenly safe again the minute it crosses the border into Quebec or New Hampshire? Or makes that same 100,000 pound load safer on secondary roads and in school zones than it is on the interstate? Good questions!

Senators Leahy and Collins noticed this peculiar state of affairs, and about a year ago persuaded the Obama administration and the Congress to allow Vermont and Maine to operate under the same rules as their neighbors for a one-year pilot program, which expired in December. As you might imagine, the study demonstrated conclusively that there were plenty of benefits to eliminating this bizarre regulatory inconsistency. So an extension was included in December’s budget bill, but that was blocked by Republican senators. Mother would like to send them to their rooms until they learn how to stop behaving like brats and start using some basic common sense, but she’s afraid that would take too long.

Because this ridiculous inconsistency is unsafe, expensive and inconvenient for residents and truckers, and it needs to be fixed right now! So she’s sorry she called them brats and asks them kindly to do the right thing and stop picking on the poor folks in Vermont and Maine. Senators Collins and Leahy have announced that they are introducing a standalone bill to make the pilot program permanent and create some blessed consistency in the rules of the road for all of us here in New England.

Check out this announcement for the complete scoop, courtesy of Senator Collins:


Or if you’d rather read than watch, you can find Senator Collins’ report here: Moving Maine’s heaviest trucks off secondary roads, onto federal highways

and Senator Leahy’s here: Leahy announces effort to move heavy truck traffic from state roads to interstates

Now, by all means if there’s good reason to believe that the higher weights are actually unsafe everywhere, then Mother will be glad to support reducing the limits uniformly instead of the other way around, but she suspects that if that were the case, the pilot program evaluation would have made that clear, and apparently it did no such thing, in fact quite the opposite. So let’s support our voices of reason on this one, shall we?

Thank you, senators! And good luck!!!


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!


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):

How to stop texting while driving: help from AT&T

Honestly, it was not my plan to kick off the new year crabbing about texting and driving. Again. I had every intention of starting out on a cheerier note with a funnier post. But the helpful folks at AT&T had other ideas, and now that they mention it, I can see their point. So it’s back to the same old tired topic. You know how to make us stop, don’t you? That’s right! Stop doing it!! Please???

So we’ve pledged to Oprah. (We have, haven’t we? Did you forget? Well, go on and do it right now. We’ll wait. Here’s the link: No Phone Zone) And Lord knows Mother’s nagged you enough about it over the past year, hasn’t she? Don’t think so? Check out these examples:

Great highway safety news and a reminder
Have I nagged you about texting lately?
Distracted driving: Are we still texting and chatting on the road?
Texting is not the only thing teens should NOT do while driving
Have I issued a commandment lately?
Why you should NEVER text while driving

And I suspect I may have missed one or two. So here I was thinking that was plenty enough, when a new Facebook page came along with the depressing message that I was wrong. Some Who out there in Whoville is apparently STILL texting while driving, so AT&T (mindful, no doubt, of its role in this sorry state of affairs) has created one more pledge, and a complete program to go along with it, bless its little pointed head.

So if you know one of those slackers who hasn’t got the message yet, would you please, please, please pass the word along? Because Mother’s heart has had more than enough breaking over these tragic stories and far too many others. She doesn’t want to hear any more of them. Not one! You probably don’t either, do you? And just to be be crystal clear: we don’t want it to be because they’ve quit telling us; we want it to be because there are no more tragic stories to tell. So let’s thank the poor souls with the really broken hearts who have lived those stories and been kind enough to share. Let’s think about the consequences the next time we’re tempted to pick up the phone behind the wheel, and don’t do it. And let’s resolve not to create any more tragedies for any more grieving victims. Not one! OK? Thank you!

Here’s the AT&T Facebook page, where you can watch a powerful video, take the pledge and follow links to the full documentary and more resources:

Make a New Years Resolution Not to Text and Drive

Seriously, please promise Mother, Oprah and AT&T that you will NEVER text and drive so we can put this problem behind us once and for all. And stay tuned for that cheery post I promised you any day now.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and salubrious 2011!