Eclipse 2017

Eclipse 2017 – Avoid the Roads!

Next week, on August 21, 2017, the United States will be the only land mass in the world where a total solar eclipse can be seen. The Eclipse will come ashore on the coast of Oregon at 10:15 AM, Pacific Daylight Time and will cross over the South Carolina coast near Charleston at approximately 2:49 PM, Eastern Daylight Time.

Portions of 12 states between Oregon and South Carolina will experience totality (total darkness). As it passes over those 12 states, it will cross every major north-south interstate highway and many of the east-west interstates in the US. The totality will pass over the following cities;

  • Lincoln, NE
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Nashville, TN
  • Greenville, SC
  • Columbia, SC
  • Charleston, SC

The totality will just skirt the edge of St. Louis, MO.

This event isn’t the end of the Earth nor does it have any dreaded meaning unless you happen to be among the millions of people who will be out driving during the period of totality. Driving during the totality should be no big deal; it’s just like driving at night.  However, the roads in the area of totality are going to be packed and the totality is going to be a huge distraction as many drivers take their eyes off the road to try to view the sun.

During totality, the sun will be totally blotted out for up to two-and a half minutes and only the sun’s atmosphere (corona) will be visible. For many it will be a once in a lifetime sight. It’s not a sight you want to try to view while driving at highway speeds.

If you’re going to be on the road during the event, it’s best that you pull off the road and stop before totality arrives. It will be best to get out of your vehicle to experience what, for most of us, will be our only chance to witness a total eclipse.

Don’t just pull off the road; exit the road completely. If you’re on an interstate or limited access highway, exit the highway before totality. If you’re on a city street, pull into a parking lot. Pulling off on the shoulder will be too dangerous because there will be so many distracted drivers, you can easily be hit.

Remember not to look at the sun until it goes completely dark. Looking at even a sliver of the sun can burn your retina and possibly blind you for life. The only safe way to look at the sun is through official eclipse glasses.

To see what time the area of totality will pass over your location, go to the eclipse map  and click on your location. All times on the map are in UTC or Greenwich mean time which is six hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time.

Drive safe and enjoy the view!

Atlanta bridge collapse

To My Friends In Atlanta

The City of Atlanta suffered a crippling fire yesterday that’s going to tie up traffic in the area for months to come. A large plastic tubing storage area underneath a bridge on Interstate 85 near downtown Atlanta caught fire and the resulting heat weakened the bridge structure causing it to collapse.

Highway officials and engineers say the damage isn’t limited to just the section of bridge that collapsed but also to adjacent roadways. The bridge collapse has shut down a major artery into downtown Atlanta that carries hundreds of thousands of cars each day. Since there’s no idea yet on the extent of the damage, there’s no word on how long repairs will take. Needless to say, Atlanta traffic is going to reach even greater nightmarish levels over the coming days and months.

In past articles, I’ve written nostalgically about my early days learning to drive in the City of Atlanta. For a while, I even worked as a tour guide, driving passengers in a small bus to all the interesting sights in and around the city. In those days, Atlanta drivers took great pride in their courtesy to each other. In fact, my tourists used to comment on how courteous the drivers were in Atlanta compared to their home cities. Those days are long gone!

The explosive growth of businesses in and around Atlanta brought millions of people from other parts of the country to Atlanta in search of jobs. The population of metro Atlanta swelled from just over a million people when I graduated from high school to almost six million today. Many of those transplants from other areas of the country brought their bad driving habits with them and the folks with bad driving behaviors soon supplanted the older, more courteous native Atlantans.

Their driving behavior became so bad that Atlanta is now listed among the top cities with the worst aggressive drivers and road rage incidents according to periodic surveys by AutoVantage, an online insurance company. In fact, Atlanta passed New York and Miami in the road rage rankings.

The collapse of the I-85 bridge is going to test Atlantans in ways not seen since General Sherman’s visit in 1864. If Atlantans stick to their current driving behaviors there’s going to be a lot of chaos on Atlanta roadways. There are going to be a lot more incidents of road rage, car crashes, and, unfortunately, a lot more deaths and injuries than normal.

The only way Atlantans are going to make it through this intact is if they fall back on those old fashioned driving behaviors exhibited by Atlantans many years ago. That means;

  • obeying the speed limits,
  • no tailgating,
  • no cutting into the front of long lines of traffic,
  • no trying to beat the yellow light,
  • no running red lights, and
  • keeping intersections clear.

It even goes so far as to mean allowing other drivers to enter the roadway ahead of you. Allowing another driver to enter the road in front of you costs very little time and will avoid those dangerous maneuvers by drivers trying to force their way into traffic.

If Atlantans were to try this radical new idea, they’d probably be very surprised to find that traffic will flow much more quickly and smoothly. It’s the smartest and safest thing to do. If not, they should run to their hairstylist, get a Mohican haircut, put on the spiked hubcaps, and mount the harpoons and mini-Gatling guns to the hoods of their vehicles because it’s going to be just like a Mad Max movie.

RR Crossing warning signs

Pay Attention To RR Crossing Warning Signs!

All too often, drivers either ignore railroad crossing warning signs or assume the warning doesn’t apply to them. Yesterday, four people lost their lives and seven people were critically injured after a bus that was stuck on railroad tracks was hit by a train.

This wasn’t the first crash involving a stuck vehicle and a train at that railroad crossing. Just two weeks ago, a Pepsi delivery truck became stuck at the same crossing but, fortunately, no one was injured in that crash.

Many railroad grades have steep sides that make it dangerous for vehicles such as semi-trailers and buses that have very little ground clearance. Even some cars that have been modified can become stuck at these crossings.

One of the mistakes made in this instance was that the bus driver failed to immediately evacuate the bus as soon as he became stuck. Instead, a few people got off but most remained onboard while the driver tried to move his bus off the tracks. Had the bus been evacuated and the people moved far away from the tracks, the loss of life and injuries could have been minimized.

It’s important to remember that a fully loaded freight train carrying a lot of weight can take up to a mile before it can be brought to a complete stop. When approaching railroad crossings, look at and pay attention to all of the warning signs. If you think your vehicle may not make it across, turn back and look for another nearby crossing.

For more information visit: 4 dead after train, bus collide in Biloxi, Mississippi




Safe ride cab

Free Safe Ride Cabs Offered On New Year’s Eve

The year 2016 will ring out on Saturday, December 31 and, to make sure you live to see 2017, a lot of organizations throughout the country are offering safe ride programs with free cab rides or free tows for those who have had too much to drink.

In Jacksonville, FL, the legal firm of Farah & Farah is once again offering free cab rides for those who have had too much to drink. To take advantage of the offer, call (904) 396-5555 on New Year’s Eve or visit:

In the Washington DC area, free cab rides are being offered by the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). The “Sober Ride” program covers DC and most local cities and counties in the VA, MD, and DC area. The cab rides are free for trips up to $30 and the rider is responsible for any fares over that amount. To call a cab, don’t call the cab company,  but, instead, contact the Sober Ride program (1-800-200-8294) and place your request with the operator, who will place your request with the corresponding cab service. AT&T customers can simply dial #WRAP from their cellphones.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is offering free and discounted rides and tows throughout the country. For a list of AAA clubs that are participating, visit: Holiday Safe Ride Program

For a state-by-state list of other organizations that offer safe ride programs visit DUI Justice Link-Sober Ride

These are just a few of the holiday free and discounted ride programs. For safe ride programs in your area, Google “holiday safe ride” or “NYE sober ride”. You can also check with your local newspaper or TV stations.

If no sober ride program is available in your area, remember to use a designated driver or make other plans to get home safely before you go out drinking. If there aren’t any free cab ride programs in your area, consider the cost of a cab as part of the cost of your New Year’s Eve celebration. A cab ride is much cheaper than the cost of a hospital stay or funeral.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Booster seat ratings 2016

IIHS: List Of Top Child Booster Seats for 2016

If you’re a parent whose child is ready to graduate to a booster seat or a grandparent looking for the perfect Christmas gift to ensure your grandchild’s safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has come out with a new list of the top booster seats just in time for the Christmas shopping season

It seems that manufacturers have gotten the hint and, compared to only 25% of the seats getting a good rating in 2008, this year, 48 out of 53 new models got a best bet rating. A best bet rating means they are likely to provide good belt fit for a four to eight year old child in almost any car, minivan, or SUV.

Out of the 53 seat models tested, three seats are rated “Check Fit” meaning they may not provide the best belt fit in all makes of vehicles. Two seats, the Cosco Easy Elite and the Cosco Highback 2-in-1 DX — both made by Dorel — were rated “Not Recommended.”
Booster seat belt fits

Click on image to enlarge

Parents should remember that, in spite of some state laws, booster seats are recommended for children once they outgrow their child seat, at approximately age four, until they’re big enough for a seat belt to fit properly, low on their hips, without riding up over their abdomen.  For the average child that can be anywhere from nine to twelve years of age.

Another thing to remember is that child seats have an expiration date. Sunshine and trapped heat inside a car over long periods of time can degrade the plastics and synthetic fabrics used in the seat structure and belts. If you’re considering using a hand-me-down seat, you’ll want to check the expiration date located underneath the seat.

For more information, visit: Designs that click – Booster manufacturers have mastered good belt fit

Images courtesy: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety