Many More Beside These

31 December 2013

Untrained For Rain

(The font and background colors were chosen for this post to mimic the visual driving conditions encountered.)

I had an extremely challenging drive two days ago, from the town of Cold Spring, NY to West Harrison, NY. Barbara and I left her friends' home around dusk, in heavy rain. We were told a route to follow. The driving conditions quickly became difficult, with a winding, narrow, semi-repaired mountainside road (Route 9D), heavy rain, some traffic, and then near the Bear Mountain Bridge, not only heavy rain but fog too! This took us to the Taconic Parkway, then an Interstate, then our hotel for the night.

I kept thinking how poorly we train our children for this type of situation. At many times during this drive, the road surface was more reflective than its markings. This results in many vertical light stripes, white and red, from cars oncoming, in the rearview, and ahead, and necessitates a driver following the lights of a car ahead of it. I also had one instance of a lane just ending, without a sign.

Drivers were more exponentially cautious-- where I might have seen dozens of aggressive drivers in this one hour stint, I only saw one, and hope (he?) is still alive. Still, the entire situation was contentious.

This drive brought two things clearly to mind:

1. We need to develop technology to vividly mark road lanes for this extreme weather-- that is, side stripes, lane markers, and more logical road signs. The road surface itself should be more matte.

2. Driver Exams should include training and testing, with a veteran driver in the car, in difficult weather conditions, and certainly on highways.

I also missed my oversized rearview mirror. We took Barbara's 2013 Civic for the trip, with its normal-sized central mirror, and I had a much more difficult time knowing what was in back of me for my decision-making. All cars should have oversized central interior mirrors-- this gains valuable time for decisions.It is tenths-of-a-second faster to see what is in back.

16 November 2013

More readers!

The blog is averaging more readers lately. I ask that each one, please, look at more of the entries-- there are over one hundred. If one of you happens to know an agent and sees the effect this blog, as a book, might have on our driving culture, please suggest it. The writing intends to save lives.

02 October 2013

How To Stop Motorcycle Gangs

I have not posted for a while. Most of the ideas on this years-old blog are still current, some ahead of their time. For example, in the news yesterday was a story about eating in a car being as dangerous as cellphone use. Four years ago I pointed out that using a cellphone could be as safe as eating in a car-- it's all about timing and knowing when and where to look.
 
I've written about motorcycle scofflawing before, but want to add some things in light of the tragedy that happened in NY yesterday, with a large gang baiting then attacking one car with a family, including a child, inside. We have these gangs on Long Island too. They typically buzz, like a swarm of bees, past my car, with license plates too small to see. They change lanes illegally, get much too close, are too unpredictable. The potential is there for mob behavior.
 
What to do?
 
1. As I mentioned years ago, motorcycle license plates should be much larger, as a means to be able to call in bad behavior to the police. Hang the aerodynamics. The plates should be front and back, like a car.
 
2. Because a "gang" reacts as one entity, there should be a law restricting the number of motorcyclists who ride together. While a bit unworkable, this could be a law that the police could use, in and of itself, to stop any group without a proper permit. Thirty motorcyclists should not ride together as one semi-amorphous group. In other words, if thirty motorcyclists were found riding together, a police car could ask them all to stop, take all their numbers and IDs, ask them to disperse, and if something bad happened later, would have all the info. This is a viable deterrent to a potential crime.
 
3. Most importantly (this would work for cars too), and somewhat of a change from my initial article posted on Best Driver In The World about being able to call an automated number to "tell on each other"-- I think it is becoming obvious, and inevitable, that we greatly increase the number of cameras on roadways. We can have cameras that record motion, proximity, distance from other cars, and even acceleration and deceleration, related to other objects, that basically record our safe or unsafe driving. These cameras need to be set up to a system that will either fine us, increase our insurance, or ID scofflaw or dangerous behavior so that things are taken from us-- cars or motorcycles. Critics would say that what of course would happen is an outlaw society, where motorcycles, for example, would be sold, fake plates made, fake licenses made-- but this would be overcome in time with sheer numbers of legal points of checking. The outlaw society exists now anyway. Adding more points of observation and accountability would stop this in time.
 
We need, as law-abiding citizens, to agree to this level of monitoring, to weed out the types of criminal behavior exhibited on the NYC roads by the gang the other day. They knew there were not enough police around to watch them. A number of them had no plates on their bikes.
 
Law-abiding citizens would gain, after a number of decades, the ability to drive faster safely. As long as distance between cars was the number one factor deciding who gets fined or not (as it is on the German Autobahn), better drivers who know how to keep space around their vehicles would benefit. Other would be forced to learn.
 
 

10 February 2013

An addition to making driving safer-- telling on each other

Driving is now our most dangerous everyday activity-- the number one cause of death for teenagers. Many bad drivers inhabit our crowded roads, with not enough police to stop them. Safety devices on cars do not prevent tragedies. Putting cameras at red lights will not keep all roads safe. Respectable citizens use scofflaw ideas for cellphone use, speeding, signaling, tailgating, lane changing, red and yellow lights… and other drivers are behind the wheel illegally, with no insurance, no license. Even tougher license requirements and retesting do not directly address the growing problem of aggressive, dangerous driving, and road rage. Perhaps worse, in our society with its casual media violence, we are now resigned to this, the daily newspaper reports of death on the roads.

Now imagine there are 1000 people in a mall, walking calmly, shopping, enjoying the day. A large man runs crazily through the center, getting too close to people, babies, children, families. He is unpredictable, veering, coming close to knocking people off balance, weaving in and out of the flow. Others are forced to get out of his way. Security does not see him until he is pointed out by 100 or so of this community; these 100 do not know each other, but are united in identifying this potentially dangerous human. The man is stopped, calmed, perhaps detained, maybe arrested. His name and identifying address is recorded. The strength of this observation is the number of citizen reports, even if no security guard may have seen his behavior. He is more closely watched after this event. To put it classically, the authorities know where he lives.

Let’s use this method to target bad drivers, who think they are hidden as they conduct themselves in the same way, but surrounded by one, two, or three tons of metal at enormous speeds.

We need, for our future safety as a driving society, to begin “telling on each other,” if necessary modifying legal restrictions now hindering this. We can stop aggressive driving by making such a driver understand that he is constantly reported as he passes other vehicles, not at all hidden but, by his license plate and car type, in plain view. The technology is in place to make this fast conversion; indeed, writing as a New York citizen, I have found that other states, notably New Jersey and Colorado, already encourage drivers to call a dedicated telephone number to report danger. These states have advertised such programs and are automating the call responses. The numbers get many responses; people want to use them.

This is what we need to do—

Begin the program by saturation advertisement, at a state level. This campaign itself would be a deterrent, a warning to bad drivers. Offer an easily remembered number (in New Jersey it is 77) to report aggressive driving. A call only requires the caller to report the license plate, type and color of vehicle in a voice mail (whereas now it is a burden to the caller— police say they either have to see the driver make the infraction, or the caller has to come in to make a report).
Set up an electronic alerting system, such that a certain amount of calls would cause an “interest situation” by the police force for the offending driver. We all have styles of driving, and the weakness of bad ones is that they almost always drive this way, in front of hundreds if not thousands of others. They also have patterns of travel, and homes, and these are known by their license plates. In other words, a cutting, tailgating, weaving driver would no longer have to just watch for a nearby police car. In effect, every car would be policing the road.
The certain number of calls? Of course there would be pranks, but imagine how hard it would be to get, say, 100 different people to call in for a prank. Set the initial threshold of interest high, perhaps 500 or one thousand, to be modified as experience with the program calls for.
What the system would have, as a result, is a bad driver’s information called in, with quantity, location, and a time pattern. The basic idea is to exploit the call technology as much as possible, to find a pattern to each and every bad driver reported. Our police force would have a better idea of where these people are, where they start to drive and finish driving, and could better watch, intercept, and ticket them. Other states issue warning letters, but it is my belief that such a system could one day be regarded as proof enough to do more than warn a bad driver, but instead fine one, increase their insurance, take their license, take their car, jail them—whatever is necessary. We will need to challenge and remove the legal barriers that will be claimed with this, remembering a bottom line—it is not a constitutional right to endanger others with a motor vehicle.

There would be glitches with such a program. Criminals would still try to drive illegally. But what would quickly happen is an overall safer roadway system by enforcing rules to those drivers who do not take driving as seriously as they should, not intending to be criminal, but ignorant (and still dangerous) at this point. And as the system develops and becomes accepted, it would be a measure of pride, much the way someone has today with no tickets, to have a driving record with no calls in. Insurance rates could reflect this, becoming even more individualized.

Family tragedies caused by automobile accidents are in our news each day. Our society needs desperately to become proactive in this. We have safety in numbers, and we have the technologic capability to be citizen reporters on our roads. We cannot be satisfied with the way things are now, sending our children at 16 to drive next to people who think it is normal to break numerous traffic codes. We will never turn back from using cars, and they will become faster. The New York Metropolitan area is more and more crowded.

It’s the most efficient way available.


1050 words

References
www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/enforce/AggressiveDrivingHTML/Aggressive_index.htm

www.southjerseynews.com/issues/june/m062403i.htm

31 October 2012

Help Make This A Book

I am seeing more readers lately, so I thought to ask this-- can anyone, who sees the merit of this blog, mention it to that one special, far-sighted literary agent, so the work can become a book?
 
Imagine this title next to other successful books-- it would be a world of good, no exaggeration.
 
They said Kipling wasn't good enough....
 
This is written during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath; we're lucky to still have power. We Long Islanders are driving without many traffic lights, so I say God be with us.

21 October 2012

Read the Entire Blog

The blog is getting a steady stream of readers. Thanks! And they are worldwide to some extent. I would invite you to delve into the hundred some odd entries more. There is a wealth of information that I believe will help you perfect your driving. The entries are short and to the point (thanks Mr. Hemingway).

01 April 2012

Cars and Pedestrians

I was asked to link to this site--

http://www.californiacaraccidentlaw.com/cars-vs-pedestrians-infographic

I've seen events where the pedestrian has the right of way, and exploits this to the driver's disadvantage-- usually kids walking in the road. It's important to realize that pedestrians always have the right of way, and it is up to a driver to figure out how to accomplish this.

05 March 2012

License Plate Number


I am still gaining wisdom-- training mentally to react as a mature, caretaking man to all things in my life. When someone makes a mistake near me in a car, I have things go through my mind-- usually based on my experience hearing others. You know-- here would be my typical social options:



1. *&;%##@
2. stupid
3. poor guy
4. someone should do something
5. license plate



Just reacting to any incident by getting the license plate, car type and color, is best. We all know this on some level but is it your immediate reaction?



This leads back to my early post, "an addition to making driving safer, " found on this site in the 2008 section, that suggests we use such information to tell on bad drivers via an automated system. As it stands now, one can call in a license plate etc. to report aggressive driving, but the police say they must be present to witness.



Huh?



I once pressed an officer on this-- took up 5 minutes of his time. I said, truthfully, that the driver I was reporting was a real menace, speeding, weaving, tailgating-- an accident waiting to happen. The officer eventually told me that they would inform the State Parkway police to be on the lookout for the make and model car. In other words, they would look for the next infraction the driver would make-- and believe me, they would find it, for bad drivers cannot easily turn their style on and off.



But just automating the entire system, and relying on quantity of reported mistakes, is still better.



So even though the reporting system for bad driving incidents is fatally (not too strong an adjective here to use) flawed, the best reaction to bad driving at this time is-- license plate. What will go through my mind is not *%##$@ but a series of numbers and letters.





By far the best response to having someone make a serious mistake near you is to get their license plate number.

05 February 2012

SAFRNUSA

I write. 

So many others do so too, whereas a hundred years ago, this was a different realm. I sometimes allow myself to think that I have what it takes to be remembered, to be an immortal in this regard, to be looked back on from some future and be seen as valuable. I choose what to write carefully.

Some of this will be seen as choice of canvas. It used to be books, poems, plays, some journalism. Now, add Internet, shorter pieces, and advertising. Short phrases are more remembered now, albeit many being anonymous.

Bumperstickers may eventually match works like "War And Peace" in message-- no joke. I wear two on my car-- Pick Up One Piece Of Litter A Day and The Season For Charity. I couldn't estimate how many readers these have had in their years being there.

And although not vain, I am thinking of adding a "vanity plate," to take up this challenge of saying the most with the least. My choice is SAFRNUSA.

Safer than the USA.

I want a safety message on my car. I want a bit of flash, showing others that I have a higher standard than what is taught here in this nation. I want to make people think.


21 December 2011

Quota

I've been commenting lately on any news story mentioning driving;  I mention this blog. Just now, I read of that FedEx employee throwing the flatscreen over the fence-- a lead Yahoo story read by God knows how many. Kind of funny in a way, it is not if the man loses his job and is embarrassed publicly. But what if he had a driving quota?


I once had a driving quota, with a truck, for tree spraying. I remember the pressure to get 18 houses done in one day. It's not something I would wish on anyone-- I had to be keenly aware of routes, turnarounds, super-efficiency, and yes, I did think of "cutting corners"-- when things can become unsafe.


What if this man, to play the angel's advocate, took a chance so he would not have to then drive as fast?

19 December 2011

How to control cars that are too close

First of all, this is more than perceptual-- it's true. I've seen just in the last year that, where I was being given three car lengths to merge or decide something, now more drivers give me two. That is to say, they believe they are giving me enough room, when in fact they are not.




This trend is not sustainable unless we automate cars to react to close, changing objects, as in another car 1 length ahead suddenly braking. The problem is, of course, that the car in back of you must have the same device. There are stories becoming more common of 10,20,30, 40 car accidents from this scenario. So what do I do? What should we do to maintain safe space, in case something happens?



I am developing some moves to keep space around me. One is to edge into a lane. I have a commute to get my son where I have to merge onto a parkway, me going 50, with other drivers going 80. From this slow lane, I need to get left two lanes because within a quarter mile, the parkway splits right and left—I want to go left. Other drivers want to go right. They can merge into the same lane, from the left, that I might from the right. So, seven times a week, the stage is set.

Of course, my desire is to avoid any close car, so I scan quite early, and most of the time no-one is near; I look for large openings. I use a lot of turn signal here. I get my wheels on the lane-change line. I look at how the drivers behind me are reacting; almost all the time, they slow down. I inch into the lane. As I merge, I leave my turn signals on; this invariably slows other drivers. I do not change lanes if there is any kind of multivariable situation close by, like two cars changing, one car overtaking (!?) (yes, people speed through this area), etc. And once, because of some oddity that happened, I simply missed the left parkway, had to take the right, had to go another route. A good driver uses this possibility.

Basically, for other drivers not giving you enough room, you use more turn signal, be willing to slightly block the lane you need, while glancing at the other car’s reaction, and make this all seem innocuous. They react to you as if you are a cautious, 80 year old slow driver at times, instead of the best driver in the world.



13 November 2011

Spy Satellites

I've been asked to post another link to a Big Brother idea-- the satellites are looking over our shoulder, and they know where you are (they know how you drive).

This choice is clear-- either we get to be better drivers, retaining control, as the Germans on their Autobahn, or it will be governed.

Here is the link--

http://www.internetproviders.net/blog/2011/10-ways-satellites-have-been-used-to-spy-on-you/

30 October 2011

Racing Stripe

I will not wear a racing stripe on my car,
though now my sight and reflex is well-honed,
lest children, only infants of the lanes
take the same form but with their simpler thoughts
my path of words they miss and only want
the rushing of the air and sound of gear,
I will not wear a racing stripe on me.

I have thought, over the years, of adding a racing stripe to my car, to proclaim, as other men, how much of a "racing" driver I am. The labels we wear say things about our selves: fast, cool, rich.

But I have drawn a line here, not to.

A teenager sees my car, with or without a stripe. With a stripe, he sees an enabling to go fast, without knowing all the other knowledges I have put together, in my mind, and in this blog.

No racing stripe for me, guys. A car is a public statement. Our kids are too precious to take this chance.

04 September 2011

More tracking of cars

I have mentioned, in the post "Black Box Me," how I would welcome an exact tracking device in my car so my insurance company, and anyone else interested, sees my decision-making, moment to moment. Here is another step to this welcoming--


(Courtesy of Ms. Kate Croston)


21 August 2011

Flying

Josh and I got out to the Bayport Aerodrome today to see some vintage planes, their owners, and talked with Jerry and Yogi-- thanks!

I am reminded that, for airplanes, as Yogi put it, you "fly one hour and check the plane for two."

This is a different level of safety, and awareness of vehicle, that I will further learn from with my cars.

15 July 2011

Buying Radar

A developing theme in this blog is a critique of solutions-by-tech for driver safety. I disagree in principle. Here is another reason why--

A Nissan commercial. Many different models, basic theme is Nissan going into the future. Lots of automation, doors opening by themselves, seats closing, motors whirring. Then, the emerging theme of a radar-type sensor, following a truck, sensing a box falling off, automatically braking the car.

In traffic? With the car in back of me not having the auto-braking? No way! I want the driver decision to keep speed and swerve, or to brake, or to feather the brake, or to rapid-flash the brake lights without really slowing down (effectively slowing the car in back of me more), or a number of other possibilities, for Me to decide in those tenths of a second. No engineer is going to be able to tell me I cannot react well to this, that their radar is better. (And anyway, a proper following distance, or not following a truck with an open tailgate, removes this question.)

Radar works with remote sensing. It's used in space, underwater, in warfare, for situations beyond our sight. It is not to be used where we can use vision. 

15 May 2011

Brooklyn Bicycles

I saw a glimpse of Paradise yesterday.

Park Slope, Brooklyn... an outdoor bike show-swap-sale. It brought everyone and their grandmother out on bikes, cruising the city streets, stopping, parking, talking, grooving.
The bikes were fantastic-- I got so inspired by these individualistic roadies that, after we went back to Long Island, I took my 2000 Giant TCR2R and blasted around our roads for a couple of hours.

Think of a city cyclist, reacting to thousands of cars, millions of stimuli every hour. Bicycles can save cities. This is such an obvious reason to become a superior driver.

27 March 2011

American Autobahn

I want to live to see our speed limits raised and, at the same time, to see an extreme increase in safety. Enough said-- here is a link that will help get us there. Do you recognize greatness when you see it?

Who Wants To Be America's Next Top Car Blogger?

I would like to, please. Unofficial entry here.

What a great contest-- I came across this when searching "American Autobahn" again, for some connection to this important idea. The contest closed for this year; I will seek its beginning next year.

13 February 2011

Some new experience with being close to sleep-deprived driving

Readers interested in learning ways to safely drive longer distances, here is a new experience to offer for your consideration.


1. Pushed my sleep limits 2 day before this drive, stayed up til 2AM, got up for work, had a coffee, normal Friday, took a nap later.
2. Had a normal Saturday.
3. Got up 3AM Sunday, picked up Troy, had a coffee while driving 200 miles to a bicycle show in MA, used Route 95. Good concentration, highway speeds around 80.
4. Had a nice day at the bike show.
5. Left for home around 1PM. Within 20 miles, began to have the thought that I could not complete the drive safely.


What happened?


My attention began to wander. I would say that, at the very beginning, the sensation was as much physical as mental. I would look left at the scenery for a split second, then find I was a fraction slow returning my sight to the road.


The idea that concentration was in fractions of a second is vital here. A biologist knows that we are allowed about 20 to 25 per second to take in information. A good driver uses these to advantage. What seemed to be happening when I was getting "tired"-- I was lacking a kind of neck balance to keep my eyes where they were needed-- on the fast lane, slow lane, upcoming traffic, cars being passed....


There was no danger at this point, no swerving, no touching the lane-dividing paint. Another car would not have had a clue. A driver has to have this early warning system while becoming tired.


The moment I decided to take the next exit and stop was when I realized my attention was to the left for the good part of a second. In this second, 20 or so things went through my mind, and most of them were not about the situation at hand. So I knew. Again, there was no swerving, nothing external.


We stopped and I got a cup of coffee, walked around a bit, stretched. Remember, this was at 130 PM or so.


There are experts at safe driving who would maintain that, at this point, the only way for me to recover and drive the rest of the 170 miles home would be to take a long sleep session. I was open to this possibility-- there was no need to get home sooner than later. But, after the coffee (especially), I was more than alert, and drove home without any more mental wandering. All the demands of I95, the New York City bridges, the Long Island Expressway, and the other drivers were met at my usual standards.


The point? Well, it's always about limits. I know mine, and it seems they can be beyond what some experts say regarding recovering to a safe driver status after being tired. Perhaps this would work for another person too.


I would ask an interested reader to refer to four other blog entries here on the same topic. They are


1. Pop Your Ears
2. Nursing A Car Back
3. Returning From NC
4. twelve hundred miles... there and back again


John

06 February 2011

New Movie Title advertised Super Bowl time

Someone else got to their 15 minutes of fame-- I guess a Hollywood writer, or perhaps a Madison Avenue ad executive.

The fame? A major movie title, to be revealed to the American consciousness, if only for a brief time.

The title of the movie, perhaps decided on in a board room? "Drive Angry."

09 January 2011

New sign

The sign mentioned in the previous entry to this blog has now changed, complete with unlit center line, to

STAY ALIVE

AND DRIVE

with same implied thinking....

20 December 2010

DON'T-------------------------IT'S THE LAW

I am driving home on the Southern State Parkway, and I see official signs ahead of me, with technology like a 1980s calculator--

DON'T
DRINK AND DRIVE
IT'S THE LAW

But one of these has its middle line out, so it reads

DON'T

IT'S THE LAW

I like this one better-- it makes a driver think. I know this as a teacher. When someone has a clear set of instructions and "dos and don'ts" to choose from, as a driver does, then a generalized command works on a number of levels. So a driver going under this sign is not just told a command, but asked to think.

As a science teacher, I know this is testable. Take two roads with known accident rates, place a DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE IT'S THE LAW sign above one, and a DON'T IT'S THE LAW above another, and measure the decrease.

Less is more.

05 December 2010

...average Interstate speed, November 2010...

Hi All,


Reporting from the Interstates of 287, 78, 81, 77, and 20... on a 1700 mile round trip from Long Island to Aiken GA and back... the common cruising speed is now-- regardless of posted speed limit being 55, 65, or 70--


about 80 miles per hour. This is not the fastlane drivers pushing. It's everyone. So I cruised along.


Readers of this blog will see the implications here, related to its other entries. What will be the average speed in year 2020? Will laws accommodate this ability, or will we drift further into scofflaw?


JW
1999.5 VW Jetta TDI

28 October 2010

100 miles on a bicycle

I went riding with a friend and her triathlete friends recently. It'd been a while since I rode 100 miles, but everything went smoothly. The roads were great-- first, a narrow two-lane country-suburban road, then the service road of the Long Island Expressway, which is a great training road for cyclists. We had a wonderful day and a wonderful time.


There is nothing like spending time on a bicycle to understand the need for ultimate safety on roads. I am still amazed how, only seven years or so ago, car manufacturers were able to sell large vehicles to the American public by reasoning out their greater safety. Now this has changed, largely because of gas prices-- people are buying smaller cars, with more on the horizon, even as the need for safety has stayed the same.

But a bicycle is the ultimate innocent-- there is no margin for error when in traffic, and a car always "wins" so to speak. A rider has to use ears, eyes, balance, knowledge, timing and anticipation. The reward is great-- not just a pleasant ride, but a greater understanding of the humility needed to drive a car.

16 October 2010

New lines on the roads

One of the strongest safety improvements I've seen around these Long Island roads recently is not red-light cameras, more police (I wish!), better cars... no, it's simply better line painting on various roads.

Everyone understands lines. If you drift over a line, you have an immediate feedback-- this is bicycle territory, or another lane, or, God Forbid-- the
oncoming lane. There is no language needed for this. As a long-time road cyclist, for example, I breath easier when there is a simple white line between me and the car lane. I know cars' behavior changes from seeing this.

So, I one day noticed that a very curvy section of the Southern State Parkway had solid lines painted between each lane-- "no lane changing" is what this means to me-- where before it had the dotted lines that allowed lane changing. And you know what? I travel this road enough to see that they work. This section is now safer-- very few people change lanes or drift across lanes here.

Then, another section of the Robert Moses Parkway-- its entrance ramp from the Southern State Parkway--was repainted down from two lanes, in a tight 270 degree uphill turn, to one lane with a wide "do not drive on" type of yellow diagonal striping. Again, this clearly works-- where before you had various drivers seeming to race around this turn, even cutting across lanes, there is now just a lead-and-follow. Since this section never gets much traffic, it is a very good idea.

There are people out there who are smart enough to get solutions right, without resorting to high-tech and lag times of years (automatic cars for example). The repainting of various roads to smooth traffic is a really, really good idea. Thanks to whoever in our Department Of Transportation thought of this. 

Safety first, always my intent when writing in this blog.

05 September 2010

"A World You Can't Predict"

The title is a Mercedes advertisement quote, played during the high-profile, high-dollar later rounds of the US Open tennis tournament, 2010, in the New York market.

It is referring to the automaticity of the Mercedes to correct (not just inform) driver error such as

1. falling asleep
2. drifting out of the lane
3. rear-ending a vehicle

In these three above cases, the commercial leads in with ordinary people, like you and me, looking close at the camera and admitting that they were not paying attention while driving.

I am going to let this description stand, without comment, and ask the reader their gut reaction to this commercial.

29 August 2010

Object Detected

As we hurtle toward our electronic future, they have started-- the TV ads for remote detection of objects (children, toys, other). The car will tell you "Object Detected."

Would you trust this device and not look? Logically, this is the same question as "would you know it was working?" Whether the car is brand-new, or ten years old, would you be able to predict its electronic lifespan?

If the answer is No, and it is for me, then why have it?

I once drove a mini schoolbus that had a back-up warning sound system. We went through safety training twice a year-- a reminded mantra was BOB, By Own Bus. Children are killed most frequently by their own bus. It was emphasized that, whenever backing up, a driver should have an assistant visually inspect the backing area. Moreover, a driver should plan a route so that backing up is minimized.

This would relate to the new TV commercials thus-- a Mom, entering her driveway, backs in if there are obviously no children present. If kids are around, she keeps them in her visual field and backs out later. If when needing to back out, there are any children around, she tells them to go away from the area. Or you get help. It is all done personally.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but here we are equating a child's life with a light bulb on a dashboard. 


12 August 2010

Parking Signs

I was sent an email a couple of weeks
ago from a website featuring parking
sign sales, asking to link to mine. They
were nice enough to write a brief
entry about this site-- thanks,
Rebecca!


It is crucial that drivers see and
understand signage as they slow to a
stop-- sometimes in traffic.  And to
those who say there are too many
signs, well-- if this is true, perhaps in
the future there will be less in the way
of advertising, and more or cleaner
combination signs in the way of safety
and officialdom. 

If you are a business owner, you must
provide correct signage around your
property so as to safely control any
moving vehicle.

Here is their link--

http://www.parkingsigncorner.com/

10 August 2010

Drive on shoulder

Cruising on the Interstate, everyone going 85. Needing to drive another 300 miles today. Very few exits, just open road. Suddenly, everyone stops, zero miles per hour. Something has happened ahead. The air temperature is 101 F.

The breakdown lane was open. There should be signs that pop up, every few miles, that allow us to use this lane in such circumstances. Yes, conventional wisdom might say that this is for emergency vehicles, but the flow of traffic would be less so that these vehicles could get to the site anyway. 

I cringe and then say a prayer whenever I see good folks sitting in a miles-long traffic jam because of some mistake someone made.  Let's design something to allow the breakdown lane use in these instances.

Go With The Flow or There's No Escape

On our trip, we saw styles. I like to be the second or third fastest driver in my horizon, and of course I use all considerable safety. This might not seem like going with the flow to an uneducated-to-this-site reader, but it is. If everyone is going 55 MPH, and there is no safe way to go faster, I will wait. I enjoy the mental aspect of going with the flow.

And consequently I am amazed at the mental climate some drivers must go through to speed relative to the flow, to weave in and out when there is no apparent gap all the way to the horizon. In minutes of driving, they gain maybe ten, fifteen seconds on me. And they put all around them in danger. They create their aura of "there's no escape." I guess they drive like that much of their time.

No, thanks.

Seeing a safe 100 MPH

Interstate, 70 MPH speed limit. Everyone cruising at 80-85, even the slow lane. Some drivers bridging gaps near 90 MPH. Still good spacing, no-one tailgating, just letting the tens of miles go by. These kind of situations, you can get good distances quickly. And I saw the potential for a safe 100 MPH.

Many of the cars can cruise near this Grail speed. I saw large gaps between groups that would allow this speed to cars that approach a group. Then, they would have to switch back to a speed that would sort out each drivers' comfort zone.

The beauty of this-- getting places. And the Germans do something like it.

Pop Your Ears

My son and I just got back from a 4600 mile road trip. I used all my faculties. At times, I had to stay awake to make a destination, and used the variables written about earlier in this site. To this, I would add to "pop one's ears." We were in some mountains and did this to equalize pressures (as well as using it in the numerous snorkeling expeditions we took), and I noticed that not only did the ear-pop make my head feel different, it made me more awake. I'm not an expert in sleep physiology, but could guess it involved pressure changes in the head. So, pop your ears to acquire that extra number of miles.

CALL THEM DRUNKS

With the lukewarm responses the police give to those who call in to complain about a bad driver, more is needed. Call all bad driving drunk driving. I saw this on my recent trip-- at a rest stop, a man was on his cellphone, talking with a cop, and said "I think he was drunk." And the light bulb went on-- the cop was going to respond seriously.

21 July 2010

Another reason

... to give them the benefit of the doubt. If you drive around with the right mental picture, you are safer. In other words, that car in front of you that slows down suddenly-- a stressed individual might think "horrible," a secure individual might realize "new to the area." It changes your reaction.

I just bought a replacement car for my beloved 1987 Toyota Celica GT Coupe, which after 380K lost its timing belt from internal oil pressure irregularities. This car was an automatic. I searched for a while, with many parameters, for another car, and decided on an Ebay 1999 Volkswagen Jetta GL TDI. This car is a 5 speed manual, and will be my daily driver.

To make a long entry short, I find myself, using the 5 gears, having slightly different placement in relation to other cars, especially at slower speeds when I have to consider which gear to be in. Thus, projecting this idea to others around me who might be driving manuals, I realize they sometimes get a bit too close, or adjust their speeds differently than I expected, because they too are going through the gears.

12 July 2010

TeamTyler

I was driving my 1999.5 New Jetta in a beach roundabout the other day, and a blue minivan with a license plate something like the title went through a Yield sign and tried to get too close to me. In vernacular, she "cut me off." Of course, nothing came of it, but it left me with the feeling that I should call the police.

Readers of this blog know that I suggest we automate calls to inform police units about bad drivers.

So I was sitting at home 3 days later, and decided to just call 911, quickly, as I do not like to tie up their emergency line. The lady at the other end said to call the local precinct and request a "concern situation for a bad driver." She made it sound official.

I called. The local precinct said basically that there was not much they could do, and they had not heard of anything official like that. They even asked me to come in. In other words, the bad driver goes on with their life, and if I wanted to force the issue at all, my life would be put on hold while I took the time to drive in to the precinct to make a complaint.

This needs to change--

http://bestdriver.blogspot.com/2008/01/addition-to-making-driving-safer.html

25 May 2010

Odds Are...

I haven't been writing in this for a month or so, and nothing around me in the driving world has really changed. Remember, the intent of this blog is  an immediate, drastic change for the better in worldwide driver safety. Lord knows we have enough else to be concerned with.

Funny thing is, I haven't seen a crash. So, some might think, so what? Why write about driver safety?

When you look at the stats, nearly everyone who drives does not have a dangerous crash in their lives. At the same time, many, many people make mistakes while driving-- it is now in our culture. So, the extension is that many bad drivers will never crash. And that, seemingly, is enough for them, that their cars and loved ones never get scratched.

But they set bad examples and influence those who will crash, sometimes fatally. This itself is an extension of the anonymity written about concerning the driver-- not only are they semi-hidden in their car and thus act as if they are "in private," but their bad effects are usually more remote-- they don't cause the crash right then and there usually, but affect ones more remotely in time and place.

There is every reason to continue to set exemplary standards in both driving and writing about it.

That's why I continue to write.

01 April 2010

Republican Driver

Just for the record, count me in as a Republican driver. What does this mean in essence? Playing within the rules rather than making new ones. If we played very well within the rules, we would be rewarded through the machinations of society with a great prize-- a much higher legal speed limit.

31 March 2010

How much horsepower does 3700 pounds need?

In suburban Long Island, with many 2000-era autos around, and the current state of over-confident-aggressive driving, how much horsepower would you say is needed in a 3700 pound car to blend in and get around safely, without getting beeped at (a proof of concept here) or anyone getting mad at you?

How about 70, that is seventy, in a 1982 Mercedes 240D diesel?

That's what I've been driving off and on for the last couple of weeks. So much for the need for advertising horsepower, 200,300,400, for reasons of safety. I know how to blend in. Come drive with me.

23 March 2010

"America's Worst Driver"

Well, they beat me to "it"-- readers, viewers.



Someone in their misguided, headed to "Idiocracy" wisdom, has figured it would be a good idea to use the title, "America's Worst Driver" as a television show. It's probably been seen by... millions?



And this blog is slowly approaching 1000 readers.



Yes it does matter. In an arena such as safe driving, there is no room for sarcasm or glorifying the bad while young lives are being lost. That is why I will humbly keep the standard I write and think at, and hope someone will notice.



There is also a book that has made it to the New York Times Bestseller level, related to stories on traffic and driving worldwide. Its author runs a blog that, again, gives much press to mistakes, and not as much as could be to pro-active measures. And it runs to sarcasm for the sake of cleverness, which can lose sight of what is needed.



We need to create better drivers and be satisfied with a much higher standard. The reward will be better laws, including for example faster speed limits--legally, while keeping our freedoms. There is no doubt of this.

09 March 2010

Out-thinking others in the fast lane

Some drivers out-fast me-- they come up behind, do not flash their brights and wait, but (since they are going 5 to 10 mph more) just merge right to pass-- something that many writers say not to do. In Germany, this is verboten (forbidden).

Today, one came up. Just as he was starting to merge right, I had decided to move over to let him stay left. The result? He saw my 2 blinks of turn signal, but since he changed lanes quickly with no turn signal, I then decided to stay left. His thoughts? Quite possibly, "if I hadn't been so quick to not let him move over, I could have stayed left." Get it?

And, 20 seconds later, he had to remerge left, anyway, because he encountered slower traffic in the middle lane. He was then still behind me.

I've used this move more than once. Almost all the time, it is inadvertent-- at the same moment as the rear driver decides. But I know it makes them think they made a mistake in judgement, as they should with passing on the right.  Oh well.

26 February 2010

Profiling To Help My Safety

We all profile a bit when we drive. Cars reveal their drivers' personalities, maybe with a 40 to 70 percent reality?


I see a Mustang, all blacked out. Then a Corolla, stock. A 10 year old van. A car with a huge dent in the side. A giant pickup truck, with decorative stickers on the tailgate, that looked like it never touched dirt. A Civic, low to the ground with an effects package, a wing, an oversize muffler. A Malibu, a Prius, a Camry. A '64 GTO.


A new 50 grand Audi.


For each of these, I make an educated guess at the driver inside, their attitude to driving in general, and I adjust my attention to them as we get near. And then they are gone. It works. You get a general idea who will go fast, make various mistakes in general. Very few if any cars get every move right.

20 January 2010

Prayer For My Father

My Dad went to Heaven last week-- a good long life, peaceful last days at home-- as much as our family could hope for.


Oddly, the day of his passing, I was driving Correcaminos to their house and got to the same spot where, decades before, a truck had run a red and hit my Renault 10 just behind my Dad in the passenger seat. I remember how shaken we both were then ( and I now accept full responsibility for all the advanced psychology that might be applied to this situation-- i.e. "it wasn't an accident" type of thinking). And on this day of his passing, I had a yellow to turn left on, looked up the oncoming lane, and lo and behold, realized that the school bus in the slow lane was speeding up to beat the red. It didn't-- a really bad running a red light, worst I'd seen since that accident. More than one person beeped. These kind of events stretch the meaning of coincidence pretty far.


I didn't define my Dad by his cars, but here they are, throughout his life (some of the years are rough guesses). A pretty interesting bunch:


mid '50s Ford Fairlane, red and white
'59 Peugeot 403, black
'62 Peugeot 404, light green
'64 Ford Fairlane station wagon, light blue
'68 Ford Country Sedan station wagon, green
'70 Ford Country Squire station wagon, yellow and 
       woodgrain
'69 Chevelle Malibu, yellow
'80s Dodge Aspen coupe, white with blue vinyl roof
'85 Isuzu Impulse, dark blue
'90s Buick LeSabre, white
'00 Buick LeSabre, copper


Not bad, Dad! I love you and will continue to honor your safe driving and teachings with these writings.

27 December 2009

They can hear you

I met a man briefly today-- nice man, probably a hard worker with a family. Middle aged: he was on top of a ladder, installing something for Optimum Online along Howells Road. I aimed Corre a bit left to give his van and ladder lots of room, and as there were no oncoming cars, could have accelerated. But the thought came-- he can hear me if I accelerate or decelerate. This was my meeting with this man, who I will most likely never see again. He was in a more vulnerable position, and I could either give him a sound from Corre that said " I don't care" or "I care." I decelerated slightly out of respect.

Pedestrians can hear your car.

13 December 2009

Right Turn

I can get Corre or Mercedita around a right turn faster if I use the power steering ability to control the wheel with one hand, the right, and rapidly place my left elbow high and at a right angle to my body to brace it on the side window. Otherwise, I'd slide left. The elbow brace I mention is not a race move-- it allows me to control my head and thus my seeing better.

Zero to Fifteen

I have some other moves.

Zero to sixty is, really, zero to ten or twenty-- it's most useful, with our modern traffic, when using a gap to make a turn across traffic.

For example, I'm waiting to make a left turn on a two lane road and Corre is at a standstill, no miles per hour. There are styles to bridge this gap in oncoming traffic. My default is, I don't want to move my car at any angle while another car is approaching-- this would disturb the oncoming driver and might cause a reaction. I look closely at relative speeds af each of the next five or six cars coming. When I find a suitable gap, I let Corre move forward, to maybe one or two MPH-- with straight wheels. It's important to note here that the New York Drivers Manual states to keep the wheels straight while waiting for a turn, in case of a rear collision (my default at the one important intersection I use weekly is, if a rearward car shows signs of hitting me, I accelerate and go straight-- they couldn't hit me if they tried).

Then I turn, rapidly through the gap after checking left to make sure nothing else, a person or a bike, is nearby. With a left turn, I thumb the steering wheel left hand to the 6 o'clock spoke and rotate it about 270 degrees left. This involves less shoulder motion, and hey-- I have power steering. Although I am a bit aggressive and try smaller gaps than most other drivers, I never get beeped at for this move. The key is to react to the back of the departing car, and have the oncoming car not be concerned with you.

12 December 2009

Aeromodding and Hypermiling

I took a long look at my wallet the other day, then a long look at Correcaminos, then another long look at my projects-- less and less.



At one stage of his career, my father was Chief Of Aerodynamics at Republic Fairchild Hiller Aviation. He helped with some pretty cool stuff, a lot of wind tunnel testing. So my look at Corre, and at the Web, was with an eye to improving its aerodynamics. For example, look up Aerocivic.



Last week, I purchased online twenty vortex generator tabs. To be continued-- I will report their effect on gas mileage eventually.



I'm looking into the legality of taking off my outside rearview mirrors-- remember, I already use an oversize inside mirror that shows me considerable overlap.



There is evidence that a small raised bar in front of the windshield wipers will guide air more effectively past the windshield area.

And there's much more, a la Aerocivic and others. I may, next spring, cover the rear wheels, and put flat aero wheel covers on the fronts.


Then there's hypermiling, much more serious in that it involves car control. Time to read about it-- a worthy challenge.
















30 November 2009

character as if we didn't have cars

I find it amusing and I care, as if for a child, that the behavior we have in cars is not the same as we have face to face. Today, I had to back off as another driver veered into my lane-- a man by the way. I realized how embarrassed he would be if we were standing around at a party, and I mentioned to someone else "Yes, I had to cover for him to keep us all safe."


Imagine this statement, or "Yes, I had to keep away from him to keep my son safe" if it did not involve cars-- how absurd it would be.


As said before, driving while semi-anonymous is a true test-- of your character.

29 November 2009

the Police don't bother with me

Which one are you?




1. The Police are the worst-- they're out to get me.
2. The Police don't do anything.
3. The Police are not as smart as me-- I can outwit them with my senses and devices.
4. The Police don't bother me-- I'm immune and invisible.
5. The Police don't have to bother with me-- they have more important things to do.
6. My style of driving sometimes helps keep order and therefore helps the Police.
7. I am a member of the Police Force.




I am 5, sometimes 6. I have a lot of respect for 7. It is a demanding job and there are not enough Police to do it entirely. 




I have a little habit-- when I'm driving and have a car in back of me: if it moves to another lane, I instinctively look to see if it's been replaced by a Police car. Why? It's not a paranoia, not a fright. I just want to  make sure that, as I am cruising along at highway speed, with my proper following distance, I am not getting in the way of an overtaking vehicle that has the right to go 100 mph-- a cop. Since I am not the slowest driver on the road, I don't want a cop to decide to ticket me, not knowing my intent while driving. So I look-- once in a great while it appears that it is a Police car. If so, I let them through.