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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why I Absolutely Hate Buying Cars!

And another of Life’s Lessons:

I’ve always been a car guy and have been fortunate to have owned some great ones in my life. The buying process for me, however has always been stressful and it sucks. Although I’ve managed to get some fantastic deals on some awesome cars, I’ve also been ripped off, mostly when I was a much younger man, and those memories are not pleasant.

Almost two years ago, my old beater, work car (1999 Dodge Neon) seemed to be about ready to expire so I started looking for a replacement. Wanting to buy something reliable as a second car to get back & forth to work that would last a few years until retirement, I searched the online private seller ads for a decent vehicle. I came across an ad for a 2006 PT Cruiser convertible with a turbo that had only 50,000 miles on it. Owned by a retired couple who towed it down to Arizona every winter behind their RV. Great looking car with good paint and like-new top. The price was right about book value. This is gotta be good, right?. Didn’t do any other research, raced over, did a quick test drive, and plunked the money down. What a piece of crap that car turned out to be. It was a money pit that I couldn’t trust to even start after 2 tows to a dealer. I finally got fed up, decided to absorb a huge loss, and bite the bullet. I put the car in a local online ad Tuesday, trying to get a decent price for it, went out to clean it, retracted the top for the first time this year and the rear window wouldn’t go down. Come on! Another trip to the dealer? That was my breaking point.

Wednesday, I went online to search vehicle inventories at nearby dealers. I’ve spent a lot of time researching cars the last few weeks and found a 2016 Nissan Altima at a dealer only a couple miles away from me. I rented a 2016 Altima to drive back to Wisconsin last September (didn’t trust the PT Cruiser) and was very impressed with the roomy, comfortable car, great power and 38 MPG average on the round trip.

This car was one of the dealer’s own fleet vehicles, well equipped and had only 8,000 miles on it (some were most likely rental miles). It was first titled in July of 2016. The ad said it was a “Certified Used Car” with extended warranty, so I took the PT Cruiser over to see what they would give me for it, knowing it wouldn’t be much. To make a long story a little shorter, we went back and forth, me taking another $2000 hit on the trade-in, but the Altima was well more than $2000 under book. I’m thinking, go for it and get this POS Chrysler off my back....

Then the game begins:

The price of 15K for the Altima was only good if I financed it through Nissan. It amazes me that they don't even want your cash anymore. They make a commission from Nissan finance based on as much as they can lend for as long a period as possible, assuming they can qualify you. OK, for that price, I’m thinking, I can pay it off or re-fi in a couple months.

I specifically remember the exact words of the salesman when looking at the car, “ This is a ‘certified used car’ and comes with a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty in addition to the three year factory warranty”. The salesman then had me at a table, another guy hanging out within earshot. We worked the numbers and I asked what other fees they would come up with. I specifically remember again the exact words, “document prep fee of $295, taxes, registration and license fees”. The other guy hanging out would jump in, coaching up the salesman(boy) after I asked questions. I agreed to make the deal. I then sat and twiddled my thumbs for 45 minutes while they “did the paperwork”.  Meanwhile, they take the license plates off my PT Cruiser and inform me that they’re in the trunk of my “new car”. Finally the finance dude calls me in to start signing papers.

He’s shoving papers in front of me to sign like I’m buying a freaking house, telling me I’m getting the first 3 oil changes and inspections at no charge. Paper after paper, no contract, I was getting a bad feeling this was not going to turn out well. Of course, the second last document was “the contract”, and that contract was about $3000.00 more than what we agreed to! Those first 3 oil changes? That was going to cost me a $100 maintenance fee. That 7 year, 100,00 mile warranty? That was $2000.00. Line item “Gap” charge $895.00? I asked “what the hell is that?”. Answer: “That is Gap insurance, in case you total the car and you are upside down on your payments”. Emissions and safety inspection? $100.00. Double the price you’d pay at a regular emission site.
My 64 year old temper then erupted. Without detailing the entire conversation, suffice to say a few bad words in a very irate voice were said by me, a gal that was busy photocopying, put down her papers and abruptly left the room. I told him "put the license plates back on my PT Cruiser, I’ll find somewhere else to buy a car". As I started to get up, he's got his hands up in the air saying “hold on, hold on, let me fix this”.

He had to tear up the contract and write a new one as well as redo the finance agreement, and he was not happy, desperately pleading non-stop that I absolutely "needed" that $2000 extended warranty. I told him that they should have been upfront with me at the beginning, I was not going to be played for a fool and I'm not paying for an additional warranty. After signing the revisions, he walked out of his office saying he would find my salesman. The prick never even said thanks or goodbye, leaving me standing there. He had the temporary registration tag for the back window in his hand and stuck it on the showroom door as he went outside while calling the salesman on a two-way radio. He never came back, the photocopy gal was gone, as well as a couple other people that had been standing around outside his open office door. The salesman came and got me after a couple minutes. That’s supposed to make me feel guilty? Think I would recommend them to anyone else? Hell no! I'm hoping Nissan contacts me for a review of my "car buying" experience.

You have to be prepared to stand your ground and remember what is stated, they will clean your pockets for everything they can get! One thing I learned over these many years, think clearly and be prepared to walk away from a bad deal. And doing some research would have saved me a bunch of wasted money on that PT Cruiser, a lesson I should have remembered! Consumer Reports has vast data on the reliability history of automobiles. If you're in the market for a vehicle, you can pay $6.95 per month for a few months while you do your homework. is a pretty good source also that is free.

Hopefully, if I have to buy another vehicle in my life, there will be a better way to do it, or in my old age, I may throw my future cane or walker at the next guy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Time to sign up for Mother’s Day Convoy

Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:

There were a record-setting 590 trucks in last year’s Make-A-Wish Mother’s Day Convoy in Lancaster, Pa., but Eddie Perales had eyes only for the one in which his son, Justin, was a passenger.
Seeing Justin wave from the cab of the Freightliner brought Eddie back to the terrible time when he thought his son was going to die from a brain hemorrhage.
“He was almost dead,” Eddie thought, “and look at him now, waving to everyone and offering hope to other families.”
Justin Perales is one of more than 100 children who ride in the annual convoy and one of thousands helped by Make-A-Wish of Philadelphia, Northern Delaware & Susquehanna Valley, the beneficiary of the fundraiser.
Justin, 11, will be back in the convoy this year with the same driver as last year, Henry Albert of Statesville, N.C.
“I have been in the convoy eight years and I do it because it’s a great cause. The kids make it worth all the effort of being there,” Albert said.
Justin was only seven in 2013 when he collapsed during a family trip. Doctors diagnosed a brain hemorrhage caused by a congenital defect and he was flown by helicopter to Penn State Children’s Hospital in Hershey, Pa.. He was put into an induced coma for three weeks, surviving a second hemorrhage and several operations.
His slow recovery has entailed more surgeries and years of therapy, but Justin, now 11, is back in school and doing much better. He still has some memory problems and he has not regained full use of his right hand, but his father is grateful for the progress made.
A bright spot in the four years since the hemorrhage was the Make-A-Wish trip the family took in 2014 to Aulani, a Disney resort in Hawaii. For Justin, Eddie, his wife, Addy, and their younger son, Jordan, it was a welcome break from the regimen of treatments and therapy.
“It was beyond just treating us with respect,” Eddie said of their reception at the resort. “It was another level. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.”
Justin still keeps souvenirs from the trip in his room, Eddie added.   
Last year’s convoy, which claimed the Guinness Book of World Records title for World’s Longest Truck Convoy, raised more than $400,000 for the Make-A-Wish chapter, which equated to funding 40 wishes like the one granted the Perales family.
RoadPro® Family of Brands, based in nearby Palmyra, has been the primary sponsor of the convoy since 2015. Eddie, who had been laid off shortly before his son fell ill, was hired as a salesman by RoadPro a year ago.
“I’m grateful to RoadPro and Make-A-Wish and to everyone who helps organize and support the convoy. We used to go just to see the trucks, but now I have a new appreciation for how much it helps Make-A-Wish and all the families like mine,” Eddie said.      
The Mother’s Day Convoy will be Sun., May 14 in Lancaster, Pa. For information on how to participate or donate, go here.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

FOX 11 Investigates: Speeding tickets in Rosendale, Wisconsin
Story thanks to Robert Hornacek and Links provided:
Nov, 2016  ROSENDALE (WLUK) -- The Village of Rosendale has a bit of a reputation for issuing a lot of speeding tickets. FOX 11 Investigates decided to look into the issue.
Check out the t-shirts for sale at the local convenience store: Rosendale. Just the ticket.
"We have sold thousands every year, people not only in Wisconsin but all over the U.S." said Elizabeth Crook, who is one of the owners of Bluemke's. Crook also sits on the village board.
"I just think that over the years, people have realized that they must go the speed limit," Crook said.
Chris Lusk of Oshkosh found that out firsthand in August.

"I saw him turn his lights on. I was like okay. I really wasn't speeding," Lusk said.
Lusk says he was slowing down on his way into town, where the speed limit drops from 45 to 30. He doesn't think he deserved a ticket.
"There's a difference between enforcing the law and knowing that people aren't intentionally trying to speed through that town," Lusk said.
Lusk is certainly not alone. FOX 11 Investigates looked into the numbers to see just how many speeding tickets are issued by Rosendale Police.
We went back five years and here's what we found: According to data from the Lakeside Municipal Court, Rosendale Police issued 2,150 speeding tickets in 2011; in 2012 - 1,903 tickets; 2013 - 1,780 tickets; 2014 - 1,574 tickets; in 2015, one of the main roads was under construction for several months, police issued 1,162 speeding tickets.
That works out to an average of 1,714 tickets a year. To put that into perspective, Green Bay, which is 100 times larger than Rosendale, issued an average 1,542 speeding tickets per year over that same period.
We sat down with Rosendale police chief Kevin Verdine to find out why Rosendale issues that many tickets.
"Everyone says we only issue citations and that's all Rosendale is known for. But we issue 800-900 warnings a year in addition to the citations," Verdine told FOX 11.
Verdine, who has been chief since 2002, says his officers only issue a ticket if someone is going 10 or more over the speed limit. He says the village is unique: It has two state highways that go through a residential area. Each highway has a school.
According the village's comprehensive plan, one weakness identified by a village committee is that Rosendale is "considered a 'speed trap'" by some. 
When asked what he would say to people who would call Rosendale a 'speed trap,' Verdine replied, "I would say that my definition of a speed trap would be an officer hiding in a driveway, behind a bush, right at a change speed limit sign on the other side waiting for somebody. And we're not doing that. We're trying to get a high visibility patrol out there to get the motorists to slow down."
Since the number of tickets issued each year has gone down slightly, Verdine says drivers are getting the message.
"We haven't changed anything in what we're doing. We're still out there patrolling," Verdine said.
Lusk sees it differently.
"I think that they're basically trying to make money for the town," Lusk said.
FOX 11 tried to find out how much money the village has collected from speeding tickets but village leaders say they do not have specific records for that. We can tell you that over the last five years, the village brought in an average of $107,075 per year for all citations. Speeding is the most common, but that dollar figure also includes more than three dozen other offenses, like operating after suspension, failure to stop and driving without insurance.
"If you wouldn't speed you wouldn't be getting a ticket," said Rosendale Village President Duane Ciske.
FOX 11 asked Ciske what he would say to people who think Rosendale is just trying generate revenue. He replied, "We do get money from it, obviously, because of the fines and everything else. But if we could reduce the speed and not write all the tickets, we'd be happy about that also."
While Rosendale is pretty well known as a place where police write a lot of speeding tickets, it's not the only small town in this area doing it. Just a few miles down the road is the town of Ripon. Over the last five years, Town of Ripon police have issued an average of 1,126 speeding tickets per year.
"The reason that I feel it is is people aren't paying attention to the speed that they're going," said Capt. Howard Stibb. He has been with the Town of Ripon Police Department for 34 years.
When asked what he would say to people who would call the Town of Ripon a 'speed trap,' Stibb responded, "I would disagree with it."
"A speed trap in my mind is where signs are hidden or you drive past a billboard or something like that. We're normally parked out where a person can see us," Stibb said.
As for Chris Lusk, he's still trying to fight his speeding ticket in Rosendale. He says he doesn't expect his fine to be lowered. Lusk also says he will continue to drive through Rosendale, he will closely watch his speed.
"A little more careful and make sure that I'm probably under the speed limit," Lusk said.
That's just fine for residents like Elizabeth Crook.
"We want people to come to our town but we want them to slow down when they come through," Crook said.
So instead of getting a ticket, drivers may just get a t-shirt.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Funeral home van theft surprises police, thief too

Funeral Communications Now
Story thanks to Tom Quimby and Links provided:

Feb, 2017  This might be a great theft deterrent, but you surely don’t want to try it at home or anywhere else for that matter.
A thief got the surprise of his life this week after stealing a van from a California funeral home.
Yep, you guessed it. There was a body in the van.
About an hour after the theft occurred early Sunday morning, police say Bobby Joe Washington, 24, returned the vehicle with its passenger to the Riverside funeral home and stole another one of the company’s vans, but this time he made sure it was empty. As with the case for the first van, the keys had been left in the ignition.
When a mortuary worker came out of a nearby building and tried to stop him, Washington tried to run him over, police said.
A 10 minute police chase ended in Washington’s arrest, but it didn’t come easy.
“The suspect was uncooperative, until the canines got there,” Riverside Police Department spokesman Ryan Railsback told the L.A. Times.
Washington faces multiple charges including two counts of auto theft, one count of evading police and one count of assault with a deadly weapon. He will not be facing any charges for stealing the corpse because police say Washington never intended to take the body.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything like this,” Railsback said. “Out of all the bad decisions he made, he at least made one good one and brought back the deceased person.”
- See more at:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Estate Planning

By Jack Dinse:
 Everyone has heard at least one story about some eccentric, rich person who leaves their entire estate to their dog. While this may seem unfair to most people, I applaud the thoughtfulness shown. After all, your dog has more than earned it with his/her undying devotion. How about your spouse and kids? They are probably not as devoted to you as your pooch is. So good for Fido, now where is the application so I can apply to hold the checkbook? A good dog deserves someone who will ensure a canine lifetime of luxury.

  True story, the other night my wife asks me, “If something ever happened to me, you would just get another dog, wouldn’t you?” Without the slightest hesitation I replied,”No, it would be too hard to walk three dogs at one time.” I was mentally patting myself on the back. Atta boy, pal that was an excellent save. Then just as romantically she came back with, “Well if something ever happened to you, I’d go down to one dog once the other passed away.” Wow, guess we were meant to be together.

  But in all honesty, I have been saying this for a long time now, just never within earshot of Dolores. I would never get married again, ever. Nothing against my wonderful wife, but “been there and done that.” Once is enough. I’d stick with my dogs who hardly ever talk back. They don’t need their own car or charge cards either. Granted, they don’t earn a paycheck, but you’ve got to take the bad along with the good! And if they were not enough companionship, I would head to the animal shelter and adopt another dog. Yes, three dogs would be hard to take for a walk, but I would manage somehow.

  What about human companionship? Well I would get my fill of that at work, with friends and just being around town. Besides, human beings are overrated. Dogs don’t cause wars or become obnoxious drunks. Yup, I’d become the “crazy dog dude”, but so what? Is there really anything wrong with someone being dragged down the road by a couple handfuls of leashes with dogs on the other end of them? I do truly believe that there are worse things in life to become than the eccentric guy who leaves all his money to his dogs.

The preceding, a guest post thanks to cousin Jack Dinse, former active duty US Marine, and very talented, published author. Link here for a free chapter of his excellent book!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Truck driver’s tech wish list
Article thanks to Jim Sweeney and the RoadPro Family of Brands. Links provided:
The cab of your average long-haul truck has enough electronics to outfit a Best Buy, but there’s always some new device that promises to make the job a little easier and the downtime a little more enjoyable.
To gauge what drivers want, we surveyed members of the RoadPro Road Warrior Club on what new technology most appealed to them. Not surprisingly, their answers revealed a strong bent toward the practical and proven:
Technology which respondents wanted most:
Smart TVs – 67%
Self-service truck stop kiosks – 60%
Smart watches – 40%
These findings probably could be best summed up by the driver who added: “I’m just a simple person and all I need are a few things that make life easier a little easier on the road.”
Not surprisingly, less practical technology, such as virtual reality and video games, was not as popular.  
Technology in which respondents had the least interest were:
Robotic shopping carts – 80% uninterested
Video games – 67% uninterested
Virtual reality – 60% uninterested
Augmented reality – 60% uninterested
We fleshed out the survey by asking Facebook friends what mobile electronics they wanted. Laptops, dashcams and tablets led the wish lists, though a number of respondents said they didn’t want any more devices. (“I can barely work my phone,” one said.)
At least one driver was concerned about finding room for one more device in his cab: “I can't think of anything else I could put in here. Didn't get any sleep when I had a game console in here and I don't have any room for a bathroom/shower.”
In cases like that, a multi-purpose device such as Garmin’s dÄ“zlCam™ LMTHD, which is a trucking-specific navigator with built-in dash cam, and Rand McNally’s TND™ Tablet 80, a hybrid truck GPS and Android tablet, are the best solutions.  
Another driver asked for a virtual reality driving game. That guy either can’t get enough time behind the wheel or he wants to indulge in a little fantasy driving behavior that most carriers would find unacceptable.
If history is any indication, drivers will continue to adapt the technology that works best for them, while skipping the stuff that’s fun, but doesn’t have a practical purpose (at least not yet!).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Linda Vaughn And Rob Kinnan Discuss Their New Book
The "Hurst" girl! Most old timer race fans should remember Linda Vaughn from way back. Nice to see she is still doing well and is publishing a book years in the making.

Article thanks to Bobby Kimbrough and Check them out at the links provided:

Feb, 2017  Linda Vaughn’s amazing career began with little fanfare, starting as a beauty queen at the local racetrack. Five decades later, Vaughn finds herself in a world beyond anything she could have imagined as a young girl in Georgia. From trophy queen to motorsports icon, the unsinkable Miss Vaughn has never been given enough credit for being an exceptional business woman.

Call it what you will, but the fact remains that no other model, spokesperson, or sports personality, has had a longer career based initially on appearance. There’s nothing accidental in Linda’s ascent to iconic status. Her longevity and success has been attained in large part due to her intelligence.
We’re happy that Vaughn has finally decided to document her life in manuscript form, with personal insights from every detail of her life – both public and private. Her new book Linda Vaughn: The First Lady of Motorsportswritten with veteran motorsports writer Rob Kinnan, represents Vaughn’s life in macrocosm. There is never a doubt that Vaughn marched to her own drumbeat, her charisma through inner and external beauty made other women want to be like her, and men want to be with her.
“Linda is a very loyal person, and she had already been working on a book with Brock Yates,” explained Rob Kinnan. “That’s why she turned down other offers to do a book. Yates began to struggle with health issues, and that opened the door for other opportunities.” Brock Yates endured a long battle with Alzheimers, and ultimately succumbed to the disease on October 5, 2016.
“CarTech had seen my interview with Linda from 2010, in an old series we called ‘In Their Own Words,’ and they liked it. They called and asked if I was interested in doing a book in that same format,” said Kinnan. The In Their Own Words interview series drew information from motorsports celebrities involving their lives and the life stories about others. Many times, long forgotten mechanics or people that tended to be in the background were identified and discussed during the interviews, finally getting their day in the sun. “With Yates’ health in decline, Linda must have felt that the timing was right and the project was right.” he added.
Everyone Has A Linda Story
By now everyone has a personal, favorite Linda Vaughn story. Ours came late last year at a gathering in Hollywood, at Bruce Meyer’s garage. Vaughn had suffered a heart attack just three weeks prior, but was still able to make the event and be the center of attention as always. Our editor, who has an implanted pacemaker, was sharing heart attack stories with Vaughn. She was invited to feel the editor’s implanted pacemaker device. Once she had felt the lump under the skin, he proclaimed “My turn.” Vaughn smiled sweetly and said, “I don’t have a pacemaker. Not yet anyway, but that was a nice try.”
We called the wonderful Miss Vaughn to get some insight on her new book. The first question we asked was pretty basic. “What part of the book is your favorite?” Always the clever marketer, Vaughn replied, “Why don’t you buy the book, read it, then tell me what is your favorite part?” Touche, Miss Vaughn. Touche. This is exactly why she has managed to survive in this industry for so long.
Who Is Linda Vaughn?
We asked Vaughn what people should be looking for when they read the book. “Just getting to know me on the inside,” Vaughn replied. “I think that kinda sums it up. I enjoy getting comments from the people that have read it. Mario [Andretti] absolutely loved it and that’s why we worked so hard on it.”
This opened up the door for us to have the wonderful lady to tell us about Linda Vaughn. “Who is Linda Vaughn?” we prompted. “A real person,” she replied. “With a real love for this industry and our sport. Whether it be drag racing, stock car racing, Indy car racing, Formula One racing or sport car racing. I mean… I love this sport.”
Her replies are passionate, so they come off as intense. When coupled with that syrup-sweet, light Georgia drawl, there is just something honestly sensual in her responses. She is our hero, and we do a little hero-worshiping, but we are allowed that. We bought the book specifically for that reason.
She is honest, but don’t make the mistake of thinking she will take cheap shots at people or be a part of a kiss and tell book. “She never talks crap about anyone,” said Kinnan. “I think that is why the industry loves her. You don’t last sixty years in this industry if you are not liked and respected.”
“I love this industry,” said Vaughn. “It’s my life, and I’m married to it. It is passion and it is medicine. It is also tears and there are sad moments.” Vaughn refers to her life-long friends and loves in motorsports. She has no enemies. Everyone is either a good friend or a friend she hasn’t met yet.
Losing The Ones You Love
“Losing the ones you love is the hardest part of this sport,” she admits, but would not say which loss was the most difficult. “I’d rather not answer that question,” said the icon. Vaughn is many things to everyone in motorsports. She is a best friend, a lover, a wife, a teacher, a role model, and an expert. When she says “I’d rather not answer that question,” her motherly side comes out and you instinctively know not to go any further.
The book is amazing on several levels. There is the feel good story of a young lady that came from humble beginnings to become the most loved and recognized person in motorsports. Then there is the emotional story of a woman that experienced the greatest highs and the saddest losses in her journey. The most triumphant feature of Linda Vaughn’s life story is her never-ending optimistic attitude. If you buy the book for nothing else, at least buy it because her positive attitude is infectious.
“This is book one,” she said. “There are some things we could have done better, and will do better in the next one.” If that doesn’t tell you how much Linda Vaughn pushes herself to excellence, then nothing else will.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

109-year-old veteran enjoys driving his F-100
Article thanks to Tom Quimby and Links provided:

Feb, 2017  A few things that stand-out in a short film about 109-year-old Richard Overton: He’s the oldest living U.S. veteran; he smokes at least 12 cigars a day; he takes whiskey with his coffee; and he’s still driving his Ford F-100 Custom pickup that he bought with cash decades ago.
Yes, he’s a licensed driver. He had no problem walking up to a DMV counter in Austin, Texas to prove that he’s still got what it takes to drive his truck.

“I still walk. I still talk, and I still drive,” Overton explains during the 12-minute National Geographic film (posted below) that passes along some of his wit and wisdom.
“I just got my license renewed this year. They gave me an eye test. Everything they give me now, I pass it. I feel good going on driving. I like to drive myself ‘cause other drivers…they drive crazy.”
Overton laughs at that last part. His sense of humor and his will to carry on is still very much intact. He keeps his love-life moving along, too, and enjoys having his 91-year-old girlfriend sitting beside him in his truck as they drive to the grocery store and church.
“Church is a wonderful place. Lovely place. Keeps me goin.’ Makes me feel good. I think that helps me push myself along—going to church,” Overton explains. “You learn something at church, too. You learn how to live better…how to treat people. Good to have a spiritual life. But you’ve got to live it.”
Overton’s lived through some of history’s biggest moments, including the arrival of the mass produced automobile. The first car he and his family had ever seen was a Ford bought by a man in town.
“We didn’t know what a car was. We heard about it, but we would never come to town much,” he says.
Though he only made 50 cents a day, Overton eventually plunked down enough cash to buy his first car.
“My first car was a little old Ford, Model T Ford. Had to get in front and crank it. You remember them. Oh no, you wasn’t born then, was you? No, I know you wasn’t,” Overton says, smiling, kidding with his interviewer.
Overton credits his time in the U.S. Army for making him stronger and better prepared to take on life’s bumps in the road. The World War II veteran served from 1942 to 1945 in the Army’s 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, which included time in the western Pacific.
“Made you more braver, stronger. I can sleep with every door open here without a lock on it. Ain’t scared. Ain’t nothing gonna bother you,” he says.
While troubling debt and other financial issues can be a big bother for a lot of people these days, it’s not a worry for Overton. He’s not one to rush out and buy every new thing that comes along.
“I’ve got a truck out there and it runs just like I want it,” he explains while sitting in the house that he built in 1945.
When Overton does open his wallet, he’s pretty careful about it.
“I don’t fool with a credit card, never. For everything I get, I pay cash for it.”
Besides smoking at least 12 cigars a day, Overton enjoys a diet of fish, soup, coffee, whiskey and butter pecan ice cream.
“I eat ice cream every night. It makes me happy. I eat butter pecan. If you wanna buy any, you better buy butter pecan. And it’s the Overton diet. It’s anybody’s diet that wants to eat it,” he says.
Overton’s advice for living is nearly as simple as his diet.
“If you give up, you’re through. You’re just doubting yourself. I may give out, but I never give up.”
Editor’s Note: Overton turned 110 years old following the release of the film below. Relatives say he now requires more assistance at home. It’s unclear if he’s still able to drive. However, he’s still smoking cigars, drinking whiskey with his coffee and relatives report that he’s as sharp as ever. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Distracted driving ...overblown?
Article thanks to Aaron Marsh and Links provided:

Feb, 2017  As mobile devices and apps — and everyday use and growing reliance on them — have spread at a pace rabbits and bacteria might envy, fleets have been acting to curb distracted driving in their trucks. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s (DOT) bans on text­ing and hand-held cell phone use while operating commercial motor vehicles since 2010 and 2012, respectively, are advancing those efforts.
Meanwhile, faced with big hikes in insurance premiums and both fraudulent and legitimate lawsuits following collisions, motor carriers also want to eliminate any accidents they can. DOT data shows that in 2015, fatalities on America’s roadways grew by 8%, the largest year-over-year increase in half a century — and everywhere you look, all fingers seem to point at distracted driving.

When it comes to distracted driving, some fleets are now going farther than what’s required by law, like prohibiting even hands-free cell phone use behind the wheel where such calls are perfectly legal. Is all the fuss really warranted, and is banning things like cell phone use of any kind while driving the best way to approach this problem?

Technology: Culprit and solution

On one hand, cell phones and other mobile, Internet-connected devices are what anti-distracted driving laws target most, and they’ve come to define distracted driving in the Information Age. At the same time, technology is also helping solve this problem: passenger cars and commercial vehicles alike are touting advanced tech like lane departure and condition-based risky speed warnings or automatic braking to avoid collisions. Third-party developers are offering driver-monitoring systems designed to spot and guard against distracted driving.
Even as DOT is pressing voluntary guidelines for in-vehicle and mobile devices to limit technology’s potential for distraction, the agency has just proposed a new rule requiring and laying the groundwork for vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, safety message communications. DOT claims V2V technology — that is, vehicles wirelessly communicating things like their speed, direction and coordinates to each other — could drive advanced safety functions like autonomous braking and could help avoid “hundreds of thousands” of collisions every year.

Thus technology has become like the humorous old illustrations of conscience: picture devil and angel figures on either shoulder of the driver. To be sure, no one advocates driving distracted. But the reality is that, depending on how you define it, just about any action by a driver that isn't eyes forward, hands at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock, and attention fully on the task of driving itself could be considered a distraction. A “distraction threshold” commonly cited is 2 seconds or more looking away from the road.
Many things people have been doing since the advent of the automobile arguably could fall into that category. And if the driver looking anywhere other than the road ahead and adjoining peripheries in a moving vehicle can be a problem, why are OEMs putting increasingly advanced media centers, touchscreen displays, camera feeds, and more in both commercial vehicles and passenger cars?

Beyond what’s required

Amid the distracted driving debate, keep in mind that electronic logging devices (ELDs) will be required in heavy trucks for drivers who now have to keep paper logs starting in December, meaning yet one more device, although ELDs must also have a “driving mode” that engages while the truck is moving and reduces potential driver distraction. For its part, New York City has taken what could be seen as a similar lockout tactic to mobile phone use in its approaching 30,000 fleet vehicles, banning even hands-free calls last spring.

“We think this is the right thing to be doing,” says Keith Kerman, NYC’s chief fleet officer and deputy commissioner of the Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), which oversees the city’s numerous fleets. Since banning hands-free phone use while operating city vehicles — exceptions include emergency radios such as those used by police or making emergency calls — and taking other safety steps like adding side guards to trucks to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from getting pulled under them, Kerman notes that injuries and fatalities have been dropping.
“Those have been going down even as we’re increasing the number of vehicles and total miles driven,” he tells Fleet Owner. “While we’re making progress in reducing fatalities and injuries on New York City’s roads, unfortunately, the opposite is happening across the country.”
DCAS and the city’s fleets are taking the position — and promoting it with new ad campaigns — that “safe driving is focused driving.” But Kerman says he recognizes the duality of technology inasmuch as it can be a big source of distraction yet also has the potential to reduce or possibly eliminate it.
“We know that human beings and the human mind can handle only so much distraction, and we want our drivers focused on the road,” he stresses. “If in a beautiful future someday cars are taking care of the driving function — or most of it — and are keeping us safer, we’ll be thrilled. We’ll try to be an early adopter.
“But today, [cell phones and other mobile devices] are distractions, and we worry about the risk,” Kerman continues. “We’re more concerned that our drivers stay safe and set the phone aside.”
Indeed, although hands-free calls while driving are legal in New York State and most others, Kerman says he believes lawmakers may have gotten that wrong. “Hands-free phone use is really not safer, and there was an error made in suggesting that it is,” he argues. “The issue is distraction, not just kind of having your right or left arm physically raised. Using a phone hands-free is just as distracting as using a handset.”

Not all distractions equal

How far does the “everything that isn’t focused driving is a distraction” conversation need to go? Herschel Evans, who’s been a truck driver for some 30 years, driving for truckload carrier Holland for nearly 23 of those, points out a subtle but significant distinction: the real distraction while driving isn’t necessarily where your eyes go, but rather your mind.
“There are things you normally have to do when you’re driving,” he notes. “You might have to shift gears, check mirrors, or check gauges — that’s always been the case — and you can make any of those a distraction if you let them take too much of your attention.”

And that’s why mobile devices are such a distraction in the driving environment, Evans contends: they take the driver’s attention very notably off of the road ahead and piloting the vehicle. “There’s practically no way to read a text or type an email without having your direct focus totally taken away from the road and put on a device,” he says. “You change that direct focus and you have to concentrate pretty hard on something to be able to read a paragraph and understand what it means; it could even be a short sentence.”
Perhaps even more so than police officers, Evans notes, truck drivers can spot distracted drivers because of their higher vantage point. “We see exactly what’s going on — there’s no way to hide it from us,” he points out. “It’s obvious to us [truck drivers] during the day, but it’s really obvious at night because there’s a glow from a screen as they’re playing with their phone or tablet and driving down the road.”
Many studies, including information from DOT, suggest that drivers distracted by mobile devices have the same or even worse impairment than drunk drivers.  Evans agrees. “Years ago, when I saw people driving how I’m seeing them drive today, my first thought was, ‘They’re drunk,’” he says. “They’d be weaving or getting across the line; they’d be coming into your lane.
“Today, you pretty much think, ‘They’re playing with their phone,’” Evans adds. “It’s the exact same actions. They’re not staying in their lane, they’re going off the road, and they’re doing things that are going to get them into trouble and get them in a collision.”

‘Not just lucky’

Carnesville, GA-based truckload carrier Davis Transfer Co. has always tried to limit accidents and screened drivers in efforts to have its trucks be as safe on the roadways as possible, according to Todd Davis, the company’s president. But after being involved in “a fair amount of litigation” related to collisions over the last seven or eight years, Davis Transfer began looking into video systems to monitor drivers and record what’s happening around its trucks.
The very day the company went to check out a video- and data-based truck safety product from SmartDrive Systems, one of Davis’s trucks got in a collision with a cyclist. “That persuaded me that as soon as something like that happened, we needed to know immediately or very quickly afterward what we were dealing with,” Todd Davis says. “We committed to a pilot program [with the SmartDrive product]. There was really no hesitation once we saw what the technology could do for us.
“It was going to put us in a position where we were going to be able to see not only accidents, but behaviors that could lead to an accident,” he continues. “Certainly, all of us today are challenged with the technology that the driver has in the cab: texting, talking on the phone, etc. A lot of distractions are going on.”
And regarding those problem behaviors and distractions, that’s where the company discovered that some of its drivers weren’t quite as safe as it had thought — even some of the best ones.
“We really worked with some of our drivers that we considered to be cream-of-the-crop, top-notch people,” explains Brittany Britt, director of safety and personnel at Davis Transfer. “And very early, it became evident that some of the drivers we had, yes, they’re great operational drivers, but in a lot of situations, they were just straight-up lucky.”

Once the SmartDrive system was in place, one driver in particular who was considered one of the company’s best ended up having the system detect a number of adverse events, Britt says. “He was running the truck off the road and would get things that would actually trigger the event recorder, and what we found was that he had a really bad habit of looking at his phone while he was driving.”
Davis Transfer used the SmartDrive system to design a coaching program specifically for this driver, she adds, and the driver adjusted his behavior. “We pulled him aside to say, ‘Look, you’re a great driver and we appreciate everything you do for the company, but we need to work on this as a team and get you the safest you can be on the road,’” Britt recalls.
"After he went through the training, he kind of saw, 'Yeah, I have a problem,'" she notes. "We've had the system for over a year now, and he's one of our safest drivers. Now he's not just lucky, he's safe."

Take the wheel away?

Some believe that trying to legislate and police against potential distractions behind the wheel ultimately is ineffective. A 2013 study published in the American Economic Journal, for instance, examined vehicular fatality data from across the United States and found that “any reduction in accidents following texting bans [while driving] is short-lived . . . with accidents returning to near-former levels within a few months.”
Given the growing number of connected mobile devices individuals have — from cell phones to tablets, laptops, fitness devices, and who-knows-what to come — will it take fully autonomous vehicles to reach distraction-free roadways? That is, must humans be removed from the driving equation altogether?
Kerman and Evans don’t think so. “I think there has in fact been progress in getting people to not use hand-held phones and not text while driving,” Kerman contends. “The idea that you can’t effectively achieve public benefit through regulation, I think, is just not consistent with the facts.”
And on that note, Evans — who helps get the message out about distracted driving as a professional driver with the American Trucking Assns.’ “Share the Road” public safety outreach program — notes that laws have been more effective in some places than others. Anecdotally, he points out that states with stiffer penalties for distracted driving like California seem to have made more progress than others like his home state of Georgia.
“I think that sooner or later, everyone will get the message,” he says, and distracted driving “will kind of go the way that drunk driving did” where people became proud to be a designated driver. Evans surmises that people are still in “an infatuation stage” with mobile devices.
“I hope that somewhere along the line, we get to that point where distracted driving has the same stigma that we’ve rightfully given to drunk driving,” he says. “We know this is not safe, we know it’s ugly, and we know it’s something that shouldn’t be done. At what point do we just say enough is enough — we’ve got to stop this?”