Greetings, Fellow Drivers!
There sure have been some changes in the auto industry since
we last covered cars and driving. American cars are noticeably
better in quality (even beating Japanese cars in some
categories), Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz are going to be the same
company, and BMW and Volkswagen are both trying to buy Rolls-
Royce. I guess that means Rolls' next models will either be
faster or cheaper. The Rolls Silver Turbo li? Or Rolls-Bug? It
could work... A few years back, my friend Paul had an idea for a
limousine for us common folk, the 'Stretch Yugo.' The idea was
to be really cheap and luxurious at the same time... It only had
two serious flaws, the country that made Yugos fell apart and
Yugos themselves fell apart even faster. Other than that, it
could have worked.
But the biggest difference in driving this year for us is
that our daughter Alison is learning to drive. Right, Alison is
16 now, so she is starting through that American rite of passage:
getting her license. For those of you living here in the US, be
cautious in the area around Milwaukee, Wisconsin, especially if
you see a blue Ford with the license "EMAIL ME." Those of you
living in Asia or Europe are likely to be safe -- for now,
SUNFUN Hellos and Thanks this week to: Peter Adler, Jerry
Taff, Timothy McChain, Hans Nord, Laura Hong Li, Waka Nishimura &
Ryota Ogawa, Beth Butler, Lydia Cheong Chu-Ling, Bob Martens,
Etsuko Hori, Carol Becwar and Naomi Ogawa. Thanks to all of you
for your contributions and encouragement.
Have a Great Week (& Drive Safely!)
Special note from Alison -
Learning to drive has been a lot of fun. But
whenever I tell someone I'm learning, they
say something like "your poor parents." My
poor parents? As far as I know, they are
just fine. Learning to drive is exciting and
it also leads to a whole new world. I can't
wait to drive on my own. Don't think that
any of the funny things you read today are
about me, at least, I don't think so.
WHY TEENAGERS NEED A LITTLE PRACTICE BEFORE DRIVING...
Last year, a mother in Redwood City, California found she'd
pulled just a little too far ahead when stopping at a gas
station. But she was standing at the pump before she realized
that the hose wasn't going to reach. Figuring it was a fine time
to give her 14-year-old daughter a little driving practice, the
mom asked her daughter to back the van up a little.
In backing the car, the teenager went far too fast, running
over her mother's foot and knocking her down. The daughter then
panicked and pulled forward over her mother's foot again before
again reversing, this time backing over her mother's hand before
crashing into a street signal box next to the gas station.
The mother was treated at Sequoia Hospital, fortunately
having suffered only minor injuries. (Long Beach Press-Telegram)
NO TEENAGERS? OK THEN, I'LL DO IT MYSELF...
It may sound like a disaster to have your kid back over you,
but then it has to be even worse to run over yourself. In 1996,
James D. Padgette Jr. turned into a parking lot in Maryland,
apparently intending to make a U-turn. Somehow, in the course of
maneuvering, his door came open and he fell out onto the pavement
where he was struck by his own car. Not seriously injured,
Padgette was still trying to leave the scene when police showed
up. Unfortunately for Padgette, he was trying to drive off in a
vehicle that looked like his, but wasn't. The seriously confused
driver was cited by police for driving while intoxicated, which
makes the story much more clear. (Reuters)
JUST THE FIVE OF US...
In many places, authorities are trying to encourage car
pooling by marking special lanes on the road just for vehicles
carrying more than one person. And it isn't unusual for drivers
who become impatient to steer into those lanes when traffic jams
up, even if they're alone in the car.
That's what happened to Robert Hanshew of Westminster,
California, who got a $58 ticket for driving in a multi-passenger
lane. Hanshew, a driver for a local funeral home, failed to
convince the judge that the four frozen corpses his vehicle was
carrying at the time qualified as a car pool under the law.
[ And he got a stiff fine. ]
Nigel Mansell of Devon, England was caught speeding again.
He was driving over 90 MPH (145 kph) on the highway in his turbo-
charged Bentley when police pulled him over, 20 MPH over the
70MPH (110 kph) limit. Since it's his third offense, under
English law, he'll lose his license for six months.
All of which would be perfectly commonplace, except that
Mansell is a retired race car driver and former Formula One world
Mansell's lawyer argued in court that the car was "well
insulated against noise and ... it crept up over 70 MPH without
him realizing it." (Reuters)
[ Or maybe he only says he's retired... ]
YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRIVE?
Many people in California take the cars they drive very
seriously. So what are the stars driving these days?
ex-Batman Michael Keaton - White 1956 Ford Pickup Truck
(Restored to mint condition)
other Batman George Clooney - Red 1960's Classic Corvette
actor Brad Pitt - White, two-door Ford Explorer with
leather interior (the O. J.
actor Hugh Grant - Volvo 960 (he appreciates the
spacious front seat)
actor Liam Neeson - Mercedes-Benz G-class (Schindler's
singer Bruce Springsteen - 1962 Chevy Convertible (Made in the
actor John Travolta - Late 70's Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
director Steven Speilberg - Toyota Land Cruiser
actress Holly Hunter - Red Mazda Miata
actor Tom Cruise - Red Mercedes 500 SL (perfect for
actress Sharon Stone - BMW convertible (of course it's
actor Mickey Rourke - Rolls-Royce (now that's a surprise)
Arnold Schwartzenegger - Owns 5 military-style HumVee's (and
that's not a surprise)
Source: In Style Magazine October 1997
AND WHILE I WAS DRIVING...
With it's car culture, California does set the standard for
the country -- at least in the weird things that people do while
they are driving. "People do some weird, weird things," said
California Highway Patrol Officer Joe Escobar. Examples? Sure!
Here are some of the goofy things officers spotted people doing
on Los Angeles freeways:
- One man persuaded his wife to ride under the hood of the car
and pull the accelerator cable after it snapped. The car
was pulled over by Highway Patrol officers after they
noticed the woman's legs dangling out of the engine
compartment of the vehicle moving at a speed of 45 mph (72
- A man explained to a Highway Patrol officer that his seat
belt was unfastened because he wanted to smell his feet.
- A motorist tried to flirt with female Highway Patrol officer
Sandra Hartman and ended up slamming his car into another
vehicle. "I didn't cite him," she said. "I figured he'd
been humiliated enough."
- Other things LA motorists have been observed doing while
- Eating a can of chili with both hands
- Cutting children's hair
- Brushing teeth and rinsing with a cup of water
- Grooming a pet dog
- Typing on a laptop computer
- Changing baby's diapers
- Using a curling iron
- Removing pantyhose
- Reading a book.
Source: Los Angeles Times
ALMOST LIKE A LIVING ROOM ON WHEELS -- BUT NOT QUITE!
"I was in a car dealership a while ago when a large motor
home was towed into the garage. The front of the vehicle was in
serious need of repair and the whole thing generally looked like
a leftover from the movie "Twister." I asked the manager what
had happened. He told me that the driver had set the cruise
control, then went back to make a sandwich."
- from the Web
WORST PLACE TO DRIVE?
L.A. has it's crazy freeways, Tokyo has it's crazy traffic,
New York has it's crazy tunnels and bridges, and Boston has it's
crazy drivers, but the world's worst place to drive has to be
Kabul, Afghanistan. Years of warfare and occupation since the
1980's have left Kabul in a state of political, economic and
driving anarchy. Shell holes in the streets, missing and
destroyed traffic signs and the occasional live bomb test the
skills of even the best drivers.
To try to bring some order into the traffic chaos, the
Taliban Islamic movement has repaired a few of the traffic
signals in their part of downtown Kabul. But even they don't
really expect it to make much difference.
"It will take some time for people to get used to it,"
admitted traffic police captain Mohammad Anwar.
Admittedly this is an improvement from the days when fighter
pilots used the stop lights (and sometimes the stopped cars) for
target practice. (Reuters)
Georgette Day of Nice, France must have been having a bad
day. Or maybe she just had other things on her mind. At any
rate, in a moment of inattention, she managed to drive her car
over a 30-foot (10 meter) cliff.
She had been hurrying home to tell her family about her
exciting new job --- she had just been hired as a driving
© 1998 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.