Monday, June 13, 2005

Mister Schwarzenegger: turn off them cellphones!

During the 2004 year end, we moved to San Jose. Our place is about a mile from my first job in the United States: VLSI Technologies, (now part of Philips). Moving to San Jose was sort of a home coming. But also a necessary few steps back.

Every day, I commute up the South Bay to Menlo Park. And (for several reasons) during rush hour. It allows me to enjoy the American way of driving to the fullest. A few years ago, the Bay Area commute was worse than the Los Angeles daily grid lock. Tata and Wipro have swung the pendulum the other direction and made sure Los Angeles is back the traffic king of California. Nevertheless, the daily commute is not ride around the track: there was a reason Ray Charles went to drive in the desert.

Many mornings, another well trained driver reminds me to write a letter to the gubernator to take some action. For years, before the evening news in Belgium was about to commence, Flor Koninckx, colonel of federal police, did his little spiel on road safety in a 5 minute segment called 'Kijk Uit'(Watch Out). Arnold, here is your chance to put your acting skills to good use: start creating 5-minute road safety infomercials and make the popular channels broadcast them.

Episode 1: Turn of Your cellphones!

Episode 2: (Since episode 1 was not a succes, plan B:) Handsfree dialing - I make it mandatory!

Episode 3-10: repeat of episode 2 - believe me: 95% of careless driving relates to driving with one ear on the phone. It is furthermore impressive to see how many people are on the phone between 5 and 6PM. Guilty as charged. It is also the time I call my wife. Albeit, on a handsfree mobile. Not only does it allow both hands for driving (manual transmission anyone?), but is avoids tunnel vision.

Episode 11: A Hummer (or any other SUV) is not sexual, nor does it allow you to act like a dick.

Episode 12: Keep a distance! - It drives me nuts how people drive up to the car in front, only to tap the break and back to the gas pedal. You become insensitive to the stop lights going on. Will you react at 65 mph the same way, when it really is necessary? So far, I still get a small heart attack when at full speed in the car pool lane, break lights go on in front of me.

Episode 13:No CHP allowed during rush hour! - You would only hope the men and women of the law would have more common sense when they start pulling over people in plain rush hour for minor traffic violations. My wife was pulled over to check if there was actually a baby in the car seat. She had pulled to car seat cover down to protect her from the sun. Apparently, it is a classic carpool-lane-trick in the book. What the CHP doesn't seem to get that the act of pulling someone over creates typically huge traffic jams: one because the act of pulling over slows down traffic, two, a cop on the side of the road is always trouble. So, here's my advise, when you really really need to make your quota for the month, pull them over at the next exit, and off the highway. Traffic will get back to normal, once you get out of sight.

Episode 14: Asian special - An at the end of the episode: a raffle for a free trip to Buenos Aires. The survivor is allowed to return. [Mark Burnett - here's a suggestion for your next Survivor.]

Episode 15: Driving uphill - Your car will slow down you know, unless you put your foot down a little more. And no, the road doesn't end at the end of the hill. So no need to jump on your break. We have lots of hills in Austria. I can relate.

Episode 16: Rental trucks - Afraid the big wheeler in the car pool lane is out of control? No worries, it's only a rental truck. The driver has no clue his loading bed carries a ton of concrete and thinks of fig cookies when you bring up Newton.

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