Tag Archives: driving

Stop driving stupid!!!

I’m appalled by the recent news of the 4 year old boy hit in the crosswalk on one of our Santa Rosa streets yesterday afternoon. He was crossing the street with his family when a driver sped around the waiting car and hit the little boy full force, causing him to fly through the air.  (Update:  this young boy died from his injuries at the hospital, leaving behind a twin sister, along with the rest of his family) Reading the comments, the conversation has turned to target those who are unlicensed and uninsured. But let me tell you, this problem of being unable to wait exists in all kinds of drivers, not just the ones being, let me just say it, racially targeted.

This is not a race problem, this is an IDIOT DRIVER problem.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had cars speed around me when I’ve stopped to let pedestrians cross the street. Several times, the fear on my face and my hand on the horn have stopped those crossing in front of me from being hit by some idiot who doesn’t understand that someone might be stopped at the crosswalk for a reason.

But it doesn’t just stop at crosswalks.

Towards the end of the school year last spring, I was floored when a father zigzagged around other cars IN THE SCHOOL ZONE on the way to dropping off his kid. Judging by the time, he was just as late as I was in getting his kid to school. But rather than just letting his kid face the consequences of being late with a tardy and possible detention, he was risking the lives of all those around him just to get his kid to the curb 2 minutes earlier. A tardy is not the worst thing in the world. In fact, it might motivate your child to get ready in a timelier fashion next time.  Oh, and by the way?  My kid got to school at exactly the same time as this kid with the maniac father.

And then there are those who are still on their phones. WHY? I mean, seriously, why???  If you think you can drive with a phone in your hand, you’re wrong.  I can point out exactly who is on their phone when on the road just by the way they are driving slowly or all over the road.  And if I can tell, so can a cop.  But more than that, after all the press regarding kids who have been hit by those texting or talking on their phones – why are there still people on the road who continue to use their phones while their car is in motion? Ever since little Calli was hit and killed crossing the street with her mother last year by a teenager using her phone, I have made it a strict policy that my phone stays away from me while I’m driving. If it’s in my purse, I have no idea that someone is calling or texting me. After all, the majority of the things that someone might want to reach me for can wait the 5 or 10 minutes it takes me to get to my destination.

Your phone can wait too.

Why am I so jaded about driving in this blog when this isn’t even the Road Warrior Blog? Because this is a parenting blog, I’m a mother, and THERE ARE CHILDREN on the very streets that all these stupid drivers are driving on. School is back in, which means the possibility of a child getting hit by a car goes up significantly.

In case anyone needs a briefing on how to drive on the road, especially during the school year, let me give you a crash course:

1. Scan the road at all times. Don’t just look straight ahead, but weave your eyes across the road and on the sidewalks to anticipate anyone or anything darting across your path. If you are about to drive through a crosswalk, be especially sure to check both sides for someone who might want to cross.

2. If someone has stopped in the middle of the road, slow down and check out the reason they have stopped. DO NOT PASS THEM UNTIL YOU ARE SURE IT IS SAFE.

3. Yellow means RED. Trying to beat the light might mean running though a biker, walker, or someone else’s car.

4. Your phone call/text/email can wait.  Put the phone away.

5. Driving recklessly or fast on city streets will not only fail in making you any more on time, it could kill someone. Is avoiding a tardy really worth taking a life?

6. School zone during school hours means 25 MPH. Period.

7. Your car is not just a vehicle, it is a piece of heavy machinery that can cause serious damage when used improperly.  Drive responsibly.

School is now in session. Please protect our kids by driving safely and smartly.

Stop driving stupid.

Automatic Pilot

I got up at 6 am this morning, just like usual. I started the coffee and cleared out the dishrack while it brewed. I got out my small pan and threw in a scrambled egg to make my goat cheese and avocado omelet. Then I sat with the newspaper and got caught up on the news. The kids’ alarm went off at 7 am, and we started the hustle and bustle of getting ready in 45 minutes. Quick shower, hair and make-up, the long process of figuring out what to wear – all while the kids got themselves dressed, made their breakfasts, and packed their lunches. A couple of the usual reminders that hair and teeth needed to be brushed and shoes needed to be put on, and we were out the door. We started down the road while I mused once again if I had remembered to turn off the coffeepot. I always did without thinking, a habitual flick of the switch when I set my coffee cup with its traditional third of a cup left unsipped. I thought about turning around again since we were on time, but decided against it, placing faith in my automatic pilot to have done it for me.

We merged into traffic on the 12, getting behind the same car that we have followed many times before. They must be on the same schedule as us. I dropped my son off first, signing all of his homework at the very last minute, as usual. Then I dropped my daughter off. We listened to the same radio morning show we always listen to and piped in to answer the questions to their latest contest in the privacy of our own car. And then, before I knew what was happening, I was at work.

Yesterday I was driving home from work to go pick the kids up from my parents’ house. A Pink song came on the radio and I hummed along. It made me think of her amazing performance at the Grammys. I thought about the feedback she must have heard after the show. She must have had friends and fans alike telling her how awesome it was, probably still to this day. And what about her family? Pink is notorious for her outbursts and wild nature. I remembered a story once of a Thanksgiving she attended at her in-laws house. She and her husband got into a full on fight at the dinner table and starting throwing food all around the dining room. Her in-laws must have been amazed that she was capable of something so raw and beautiful.

And that’s when I realized that the ground was moving below me, and my stomach actually jumped. I had been so engrossed in daydreaming that I had actually exited the car and was floating in oblivion while my body kept driving the car to my parents’ house.

The routine is never changing, always the same. A deviation in it would throw our whole schedule off. But because it is so routine, I find that I can do it half asleep and never remember what is going on in between Point A and Point D. It can be a little jarring when I get so caught up in doing the same thing every day that I am doing it without thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven somewhere and, once at my destination, I literally can’t remember what happened during the drive. I don’t even remember driving!

Are you the same? Is your schedule so intact that you can do it without thinking? Between kids activities, the school and work routine, and all else that takes up your time as a busy mom, do you find yourself most days on Automatic Pilot?

Driver's Ed

I am teaching my 11 year old daughter to drive. “When you merge into traffic, be aware that you have to keep up to speed for the cars behind you and also for the cars that you are merging into. And be sure to check your mirrors to make sure that you have enough space to merge.”

No, my daughter is not behind the wheel. She is sitting in the car next to me as I drive. And every single instance on the road is a teachable moment. After all, in less than 5 years she will be the one behind the wheel, handling a vehicle that weighs 10 times more than her. And she will be responsible for all those on the road or in the car with her. 5 years is a relatively short time to teach her all she needs to know about driving before that day arrives.

“When it’s raining, drive slower. The roads are more slick and slippery, and the water can coat your brakes, making it hard to stop the car on a dime. Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you so that you don’t have to slam on the brakes.”

As if to prove my point, we passed by a car that had spun out and was stuck in a muddy field. The driver and passenger were busy pushing the car in the mud to no avail as the tow truck driver was on its way. We had chosen to take the long way around to avoid merging into the heavy traffic, and I was glad that we had. This rainy day was not the day to try and merge into fast moving traffic on these slick roads.

We got onto the freeway and I merged into traffic. The spray from the water created a shield of mist between each car. Just 20 yards up, a truck in the fast lane was merely a blur except for their red backlights.

“See how hard it is to see that car in front of us? That’s why you have to drive with the lights on when it is raining.”

“Are your lights on?” she asked. “Because it doesn’t look like it.”

“They’re on, but it’s not so that we can see better, it’s so that other drivers can see us.”

My daughter is very interested in learning about driving. Even when she rolls her eyes at me at times when I am speaking to her about anything else, she never fails to pay close attention when I give her driving tips. “Where are the brakes?” “How am I supposed to hold the wheel?” “How do you keep your eyes on the road and know that there’s a car next to you?” Almost every time we are in the car with each other, there is something new I can tell her about driving.

I dropped my son off first at school, then my daughter at hers. After wishing her a good day, I got back on the road and back on the freeway to home. Traffic slowed to a crawl. Up ahead there were flashing lights of a police car and a tow truck. Upon first glance I thought that it was a traffic stop. But then the third car came into view. It was on its side, the top of the car caved in against the middle barrier. It had obviously slid off the road and catapulted against the dividing wall with incredible force. The car appeared almost flat. The officer was next to the vehicle. It looked grim. I breathed a sigh of relief as a baseball capped head emerged from the passenger side window, the side of the car that was now the top. But it was unclear whether there was anyone else in the car with them. I said a little prayer as I drove past, and thought about my own children driving one day in these conditions.

Yes, it is never too early to give your child driving tips. They don’t even need a learner’s permit to learn.