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Defensive Driving Adventures
» March 24 to 31, 2005
Defensive Driving Adventures
March 31, 2005 - Traffic Roulette
Imagine you're approaching an intersection, the light turns green for you and for everyone else in every direction. The ensuing chaos could easily result in multiple dangerous crashes. But we trust traffic signals. After all they are pretty simple and this has never happened. Now let's say you own a tow truck company and are looking to increase business. More crashes equals more towing.
It seems that a spotter in South Africa got a little over zealous in his job responsibilities. Rudi Berg works as a spotter. His is paid to report traffic accidents to tow truck drivers so they can get their fast and get the business. He was arrested this week for tampering with traffic lights - disconnecting them to create tow truck business. According to one official there have been an unusual number of traffic light problems. It appears Mr. Berg is going to be locked up for a long time.
Our Traffic Signals Work - Most of the Time
So far in the USA we can safely say that our traffic lights work as they should but what should you do if you come to traffic light that is off or flashing red? Treat it as a four way stop. Give the right of way to whoever got there first. And take a look around for any suspicious characters - you never know.
March 30, 2005 - Moving to Florida in Droves
About 900 people move to Florida every day - 365 days a year. And we in the sunshine state know why they are coming. Great weather and affordable housing top the list of most newcomers. But how many new people and their cars can Florida roads handle? And can our state government keep up with the demand for new roads, bridges, and the endless improvements?
A group of activists called "Floridians for Better Transportation" have decided to take matters into their own hands. They have created an online survey on their website - www.GetFloridaMoving.org. There you can cast your vote for the worst roads, worst traffic, and you can even submit pictures to be posted. Our first nomination goes to I4 in Orlando. Taking I4 towards Disney in the morning or back towards downtown Orlando in the evening is absolute torture.
A National Traffic Jam
Florida is not alone in its traffic dilemma. In fact, if you read our trip log from last week, the San Francisco area makes Florida highways look like a pleasure. This brings to mind the age old question. Why are the roads always under construction and why is there always traffic? The answer is that states don't start a road project until there is a problem and the projects take years to complete. So by the time the project is done, the traffic has double again and you feel like you are right back where you started. We have a suggestion - the 4 day workweek.
Imagine it. Everyone stays home and off the roads 1 day a week. Sorry everyone can't pick Friday. If your home day is picked at random then this should eliminate 20% of the traffic. Even if you have to work 10 hour days instead of 8, the time you will save in traffic will in many cases get you home quicker. Of course an easier suggestion would be for everyone to just live reasonably close to their work - say within 15 miles. But that makes way to much sense. If nothing else you can at least register your opinion (complaint) online.
March 28, 2005 - Restricted for a Reason
Once or twice a week a teenager with a learners permit will call and ask if they can drive alone to work or to school. The answer is no. If you are under 18 Florida requires that you drive for a year with your learners permit and you must always have a licensed driver 21 or older in the passenger seat. This requirement is the why the learners permit is also known as a restricted drivers license.
There's a good reason for the Florida restricted license. The approach is known as graduated licensing. It's designed to ease a new driver into learning how to drive and how to handle difficult driving situations. For the first three months a driver with a Florida learners permit is restricted to daytime driving. Then they are encouraged to drive a little at night. Even with this slow and steady approach we still have our share of tragedies.
Parents Set Restrictions
Every week we hear another story of teen driver making the ultimate mistake. When you're your teen does get their full drivers license it's up to you to set restrictions (read: rules). Parents, make it clear that driving is a privilege, set very specific rules with penalties. The two biggest risks are alcohol and a car load of kids. Mix these two ingredients and it's a recipe for disaster. A good rule is no transporting other teens for the first 3 months and after that no more than one other teen in the car at a time. This could save your teens life.
March 25, 2005 - California Style Traffic Nightmare
Think about the worst traffic you have ever been stuck in. One hour of not moving on I95. 45 minutes at 5mph on US1. Or an hour and a half fighting your way across Orlando on OBT in 90 degree heat with no AC. Now imagine traffic so bad that it seems you will never get where you are going. We just drove from Lake Tahoe to Livermore California. Lucky for us we did the trip midday. Livermore is about 35 miles east of San Francisco and many people commute daily from there to San Francisco. To drive the 35 miles is at least an hour and a half.
As we gassed up at a Livermore gas station and headed to some friends place for dinner there were cars, tens of thousands of cars heading east. Turns out that many people commute from Tracy California to San Francisco daily. That's a 60 mile drive in excess of two hours. This kind of traffic can take a normally calm friendly person and turn them into a raging maniac. We observed several unfriendly gestures in just a few minutes. Just looking at the traffic left all of us speechless, wondering how people can do this day after day.
Not Your Average Traffic
This was not your average traffic. Imagine looking miles in every direction on two major freeways (580 and 680) and seeing cars, bumper to bumper cars. The carpool lane was a cruel joke. It moved at the same snails pace. California has made every effort to alleviate traffic. They actually have traffic lights on the freeway ramps to control when you can get on the freeway. They have Fasttrack - an equivalent to SunPass. We even found our first two lane McDonalds drive through. But the traffic is epic - without question the worst in the country. California is proud that it starts trends but if this is a trend we're hoping it doesn't spread to Florida. Sure we have traffic but you always know you're going to get to your destination. In the case of California - we have our doubts. Writing this six hours later we wonder if everyone has made it home. We hope they did. Unfortunately tomorrow they'll do it again.