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Driving with Dipsticks: Pets don't belong in the driver's seat

Monday, December 16, 2013 - 9:53 am

As I write this column grandkids and their friends are running all around my house screaming in joyful play as we await the Thanksgiving feast. Later today and Friday many of us will brave the parking lots of the stores that have spent billions attracting us to brave the elements, risk our lives, and drop our life savings for the greatest spectacle in human marketing, we all know as Christmas.

Dipstick No. 1, J., wrote in, “I want you to know how much I enjoyed your column. You are like a 12 step program to prevent road rage.

“I am amazed at the number of vehicle operators who never use their turn signals! I was beginning to believe that those huge SUVs were not equipped with them. Could it be that their turning signal bulbs are burned out and they are ignoring the little click they make?

“No, that can't be it.

“Could it be that all these drivers have no left arm? Now that's a little preposterous.

Then I made a tremendous discovery. These drivers are missing an arm! They need a third arm! How can one be expected to steer the vehicle, drink coffee, apply makeup, eat a doughnut, and TALK ON THE PHONE, and text only with two arms? And then be expected to use the turn signal?

“How silly of me. Now that I've figured it out, I no longer become inpatient with these self-righteous, egotistical, discourteous, moronic, law-breaking drivers.

“Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts. Keep up the great writing!”

J, I thank you for the support, and hope you feel better now. See it helps to get these things out in the open. Maybe we should start up Aggravated Anonymous. A calm and peaceful place to bring solace to our lives overstressed by moronic drivers who are oblivious to all of the other people who are “blessed” to be on THEIR roads. We can sit in a circle, in a dimly lit room, and breathe deeply and maybe listen to some calming music. I can hear it now, “Hi my name is Ben, I got cut off by this @#$%!!! Scratch that; it will never be peaceful or calm.

Dipstick No. 2, Russ, sent in his No. 1 complaint and it is a real pet peeve. He can't stand it when people drive with there dogs in their laps. Russ, I agree, the dog should not be interfering, obstructing, or otherwise distracting any driver. Russ sent an article that appeared online at theweek.com that claims 1 of 5 drivers will let Fido sit on their lap. Some even play fetch with Fido while they are driving. The article also claimed that two states are considering a ban on it. Do we need to be told by a state that this is dumb?

On the subject of how widespread the problem is, the article claimed, “A 2010 survey from AAA has some pretty jarring numbers: 21 percent of drivers who transported their dogs in the last year said they let the pooch ride on their lap, 7 percent said they'd fed or given water to the dog while driving, 5 percent admitted to playing with the dog while driving, and 31 percent said that the dog had distracted them, regardless of where it was in the car.” The article also claimed that it is dangerous, “An unrestrained 10-pound dog traveling at 50 miles per hour flies forward with 500 pounds of pressure in a crash, and an 80-pound dog at only 30 mph packs a 2,400-pound punch, says AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher. "Imagine the devastation that can cause to your pet and anyone in the vehicle in its path."

People, this is just plain crazy! There is no law in Indiana that prohibits this either; except the law of common sense. Use some. So I asked around concerning this and got a response from one lady who was quite curt, as she explained she would comply after people stopped talking on their cell phones and/or texting. I agree with her that there is too much cell distraction on the roads. You can't properly watch traffic with the digital appendages attached to your ear.

However, concerning the line you have put in the sand, that's fine, lady, if you don't mind being the person responsible for Fido's life, or death. Not to mention those of us who share the road with you. If Fido flies, he might die; 500 pounds of force will surely crush his skull. That's yucky.

Ben Brickman is production manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers. Want to vent? Send it to dipsticks@news-sentinel.com. Include all the details you can think of. If your dip gets in the paper he’ll give you the credit, or not. It’s your call. You can phone in your Dipstick sightings at 461-8285. He’s also on Facebook, Driving With Dipsticks! Lastly, be careful out there; no one else is.