What I learned in (traffic) school last night

I did an online traffic school the other day to avoid a point on my license. Here's some tidbits of information that I noted while reading the class material.

While discussing fuel economy: "keep the outside of the car clean; it also reduces drag."

[I guess if you're looking at tertiary or smaller effects then you could make this argument with a straight face.]

"Small animals may run into your path. Never risk a collision or put a life in jeopardy to avoid a small animal. Larger animals, however, should be avoided."

In the duh category: "If you experience brake failure, downshift to a lower gear to help slow down the vehicle. Pump the brake pedal several times. Activate the hazard lights. Pump the parking brake while releasing the lock mechanism. Move off the road safely. If you are still not able to stop, look for an uphill slope, guard rail or curb to help further reduce your speed. As a last resort, select objects that are soft and will give on impact to collide with in order to come to a complete stop. Avoid objects such as trees, light posts, telephone posts, buildings, etc." [emphasis mine]

Also in the duh category while discussing escape from a sinking car:
"Roll Down Your Window to Escape - Opening windows may make it easier to open a door. Open the window and get out of the car as soon as you can--if possible, before it starts to sink."

"If for some reason you cannot get the window down, wait till the car fills completely before you can open the door. If you try to open the doors too soon the water rushing in will impede your escape and could trap you. When the car is filled, the water pressure will be equal on both sides. This will allow the door to open. Before exiting, try to find a pocket of air at the top of the car and take a breath."

OR use a small hammer, a Philips screwdriver or center punch, available at most hardware stores to shatter the glass. Strike the window at the bottom or a corner edge. Always try to break a side window.

[Of course, most people I know carry those in their car where they have easy access in the panic of an emergency. But of course you could always run to the local hardware store if you needed one.]

"Never sit in the car and just wait. It takes a car 2-3 minutes to sink, depending on the car. If you follow these steps, you should be able to escape the car before it starts to sink."

If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety."

[Those mobile homes seem to be tornado magnets. I wonder what would happen if you were in a car that was in a mobile home park?]

New information about scooters, skateboards, and skates, and passengers there on:
"As of January 2003 California law requires all persons under 18 years of age to wear a properly-fitted and fastened bicycle helmet while operating a bicycle or riding upon a bicycle as a passenger, operating a non-motorized scooter or skateboard, wearing in-line or roller skates, or while riding upon a non-motorized scooter or skateboard as a passenger."

"You must also report the collision to the DMV if it involved property damage of $750 or more or if someone was injured or killed."

[Maybe we've just been told the minimum value of a human life. And the maximum (below). Or maybe the DMV doesn't index for inflation.]

"The required minimum liability insurance coverage is:
* $15,000 for injury/death of 1 person.
* $30,000 for multiple injuries/deaths.
* $5,000 for property damage caused as the result of one collision."


  1. I read about an air freight company that washed their planes often for fuel economy. I never worked the numbers, but apparently, dirty planes do use noticeably more fuel. Who knew dirt could cause so much turbulent dissipative energy?

  2. As Paul MacCready was fond of pointing out, airplanes are actually designed to be aerodynamically efficient, but for some reason we don't take aerodynamics very seriously when designing (most) cars.

    By luck rather than design, I think I do have a hammer or screwdriver handy in all my driver's side doors. In the case of the Volkswagen, the door latch comes loose at regular intervals, so we keep a star-head screwdriver right there ready to tighten it back up again.

  3. It's amazing how educational a driving class can be, for a cave man who's never seen a car before.

    I had to take one in Texas, when I was 17 and got my first ticket. They told me nothing my father hadn't already said.

    Cool blog, though.

  4. Fine comedy!

    At least you got to do it at home. Can you imagine attending an actual class for that? Imagine the questions from the other students.

    My partner's mother (in her mid-80s) keeps a window-breaking piece of metal in her car in case they ever drive off the road into a swamp.

    She's really afraid that could happen and she thinks she'll be able to break the window, unfasten the seat belt, and swim to safety if it ever does.