Archive for the ‘Driving etiquette’ Category

Yet another positive ZipCar experience

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

On Monday, July 12, I rented a ZipCar for an hour to go grocery shopping. During the half hour I was in the store, some asshole thief put a grapefruit-sized dent in the bumper of the ZipCar and drove off without leaving any contact information.

I called ZipCar immediately on my cell phone. The rep with whom I spoke first verified that everyone was OK and then went through the “customer was in an accident” script quickly, efficiently, and politely. I received email within minutes of our phone call telling me everything I needed to know and do. It was all quite reasonable.


Mayor Menino, is it your policy to allow your staff to park city vehicles illegally?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Seat belt law opponents are either idiots or liars

Monday, July 13th, 2009


To the editor:

It has been painful to watch the avalanche of flawed statistics and discredited urban legends wielded by opponents of a primary enforcement seat-belt law in their foolhardy efforts to stop a law which would undeniably save lives.

Jonah Goldberg informs us that since there are states with higher traffic fatality rates that have primary enforcement laws, such laws must be useless.  His simplistic analysis ignores the prime directive of statistical research, i.e., that statistical variations between two samples are only relevant if all other factors have been taken into account.  Study after study that did take such factors into account have proved that primary enforcement dramatically increases seat-belt use and that increased seat-belt use dramatically decreases accident injury and fatality rates.

A recent letter writer claimed that since millions of people who don’t wear seatbelts have not been killed in accidents, seatbelts don’t save lives.  It would make just as much sense to say that since people who don’t play Russian roulette don’t shoot themselves in the head, Russian roulette isn’t dangerous.

That same letter writer trotted out the ridiculous myth that seatbelts can trap passengers in vehicles that are submerged or on fire.  The fact is that, as documented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, virtually every study ever conducted indicates that lap and shoulder belts cut the risk of serious or fatal injury by 40 to 55%.

While the Herald may have a journalistic obligation to present both sides of every story, I do not think that obligation extends to printing absurdities and lies.

Jonathan Kamens

Letting blind people drive

Monday, February 18th, 2008

On the topic of mandatory periodic retesting of senior citizens when they renew their driver’s licenses, my wife recently had this letter printed in the Boston Herald (under the completely nonsensical headline “Rights watered down”, thus proving yet again that the Herald really needs to hire some better headline writers):

Over a decade ago, it was a joke: A BU professor involved in a conference on rights for people with disabilities was hosting a visiting Italian professor. The visitor asked why the crosswalk light was beeping. “It’s for people who can’t see,” our professor explained. Her colleague yelled, “You let blind people drive?”

Apparently, now we do.

The story about the older men losing their eyesight (“What does being old have to do with it?” Feb. 12) was like running a sob story about an alcoholic who knows he will drive drunk but wants to be cut some slack to maim or kill since he visits his sister and likes to shop in Lynn.

We are not talking about “bad” drivers; anyone can be a bad driver and learn to be better one. We are talking about impaired drivers.

Older citizens should be using their political acumen to improve transportation and community networks so that individual cars are not lifelines, not lobbying for the right to knowingly drive impaired.

A… Kamens

Speed kills

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Four teens were killed, and a fifth critically injured, in a single-vehicle car accident in Leicester last Friday night. The driver of the car was traveling at over twice the speed limit. The local high school principal was quoted in the paper as saying, “It’s not like they did anything wrong.” I just sent the following letter to several area newspapers:


Beating a ticket

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

Approaching a red light on Washington St. at the intersection with Waverly Ave. near Newton Corner.  Thought the two cars riding the yellow line at the red light were turning left (cars often don’t signal turns at that intersection, or for that matter anywhere else in the Boston area).  Started to pass them on the right as the light turned green, then realized that the one in front was going straight.  Slowed down to let him proceed and merge in behind him, but that apparently wasn’t good enough for him.  He was a state trooper driving an unmarked, and I ended up with a citation for improper passing on the right.


The quintessential Israel experience

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

My family is in the middle of a two-week visit to Israel.  Today is my “day off” to spend by myself, and of course, where else would I spend it than at an Internet cafe checking my email :-)?  I’m not one of those avid bloggers who must record every detail of his vacation, but I thought it would be amusing to recount one incident which fits the theme of my blog.


Don’t block the box!

Friday, October 14th, 2005

Hi, boys and girls! It’s time for another exciting episode of

Driving etiquette that everybody should know, but most people don’t seem to!
Today’s episode is

Don’t block the box!
This episode is based on driving rule that’s so simple that it can be explained in a single sentence:

Don’t enter an intersection if there isn’t room for you on the other side.

Pull up a few feet!

Tuesday, October 11th, 2005

Here’s your etiquette quiz for the day….

You get home from work. You park your car on your street. You get out of the car and notice that you could have pulled forward a few more feet. What do you do?

  1. “I never check whether I parked properly.”
  2. Go in the house and have dinner.
  3. Get back in the car and pull up.

If you answered (c), give yourself a gold star.

On-street parking is a scarce resource, especially in a city like Boston. If you leave a few feet of wasted space at one end of your car, there’s a good chance that you’ve ruined a space at the other end.

On a related note, if you’re looking to park and you come upon a long stretch of empty curb (a miracle!), parking exactly in the middle is the wrong answer. Put your car at one end or the other of the empty space, making it likely that more people will be able to park in the remaining space.

All this is obvious, you say? I’m afraid not, judging from what I’ve seen in the eight years I’ve been living in a house with on-street parking.