Electrifying News About Electric Cars.

The little car that could . . .

The little car that could . . .

The fluctuating price of gasoline has long driven drivers to distraction.  Up and down and up and down; there never seems to be any rhyme or reason to the pricing of petrol.  Trying to budget for your gasoline needs is like trying to catch the Loch Ness monster – it might be possible, but it’s never probable!

Alternative fuel sources are also subject to unpredictable price fluctuations– the price of ethanol, hydrogen, and natural gas, is as skittish as a young colt.

So what’s a frustrated driver on a modest budget to do?

Well, you can always dream about the electric car and hope it makes a complete comeback.

Comeback?

Yes, comeback!  Rechargeable lead-acid batteries were invented by Gaston Plante in France in 1859, and electric carriages were on the road in continental Europe and in Great Britain by 1885.  London had a fleet of electric hansom cabs from 1889 to 1910, called Hummingbirds because of the constant low humming their motors made.

Major cities in the United States, such as New York, Chicago and St. Louis, also had streetcars that ran on rechargeable electric batteries, until about 1912, when the internal combustion engine was finally improved to the point where it could outperform rechargeable batteries, and became the standard engine for all Ford cars.

The trouble with those early lead-acid rechargeable batteries was two-fold.  First, they weighed too much.  An average electric automobile had to carry a battery that weighed anywhere from 100 to 140 pounds.  This allowed the vehicle a range of about 120 miles before it needed to be recharged.  Second, lead-acid batteries were prone to explode if mishandled or allowed to run dry.  The fumes created by the lead-acid combination were noxious as well as inflammable, and many an early pilot of an electric automobile suffered a touch of lung trouble from inhaling those battery fumes over a period of time.

And so gradually the electric car, for all its convenience and economy, fell out of favor and became virtually extinct in the United States by the mid-1930’s, when gasoline was cheap and abundant.

Today, of course, there is a renaissance of plug-in cars, as battery technology starts to finally catch up with the internal combustion engine, and fossil fuels become more and more suspect, not to mention expensive.

Using a lithium-ion battery, which takes only 3 hours to recharge, the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, from Daimler, was first introduced into the United States in Orlando, Florida, in 2012.  You’ve probably seen this peculiar little vehicle, which looks like a refugee from clown alley, as it is now being mass produced and leased all over the country.  It only seats two (obviously!) and can obtain a maximum freeway speed of 70 mph for up to four hours.  You can lease one for about $225.00 per month.

There can be significant savings, since no gasoline is required for an electric plug-in car.  But please keep in mind how much electricity costs in your area.  In some areas where hydro-electric power is abundant, charging up your car is a real bargain.  In South Florida, where most power comes from nuclear plants, the cost of electricity is middling – not too high and not too low.

If you’ve got a little bit more cash on hand, Consumer Reports magazine just released their Top Ten Electric Cars list.  At the top of the list is the Tesla Model S, retailing for around $89,000.  Of course, if you can afford THAT kind of car you’re probably rich enough to have everything and everybody brought to you – so WHY HAVE A CAR AT ALL?

Just for the fun of driving, right?

The Tesla Model S; retailing for a cool $89-thousand.

The Tesla Model S; retailing for a cool $89-thousand.

 

On the Road in Florida!

 

Take a road trip around Florida!

Take a road trip around Florida!

Whether you’ve been driving a car for decades, or have just gotten behind the wheel for the very first time; whether you’ve traveled the globe or never gone beyond the town limits; and whether you live in Walla Walla, Washington, or Sarasota, Florida, we want to encourage you to get out in your car and visit some of the wonderful sites down here in Florida, where Metro Traffic School has its headquarters.  You can usually count on the weather being sunny and fine, the roadside rest stops to be clean and convenient, and the people to be friendly and informative.  Florida is a great state to go a-wandering in your automobile.  So take a moment to plan a trip to one, or more, of these unique state attractions:

The Great One.

The Great One.

It’s the most impressive tomb in Miami’s Our Lady of Mercy Cemetery but there are not many inscriptions on it, just the Great One’s name and on the steps his famous line “AWAY WE GO!” You might expect to see a tomb in the shape of a flying saucer since Jackie was such a big UFO enthusiast. He even built a house in New York shaped like a flying saucer. Back in 1973 he claimed that his friend President Richard Nixon took him to see the preserved remains of space aliens at a secret facility on Homestead Air Force Base. According to the far-fetched story, the aliens were recovered from a crashed flying saucer back in 1953. After his death on June 24, 1987, Jackie Gleason’s huge collection of UFO books were given to the University of Miami’s library, where they are on permanent display.

Their post office gets awful busy in December.

Their post office gets awful busy in December.

If your idea of Christmas is snow, you won’t find any here; as a matter of fact the life expectancy of a snowman in this place is about an hour on a cool day. I’m talking about the town of Christmas, Florida, located on State Road 50, half-way between Cocoa and Orlando. Christmas residents may not have any snow, but they keep the happy holiday spirit all year long. At the main intersection in this small community is a permanent Nativity scene and nearby is a big living Christmas tree that stays decorated all year.

Most of the year, the town’s post office operates at a normal pace until just before Christmas, when a blizzard of letters, cards, and packages by the thousands are delivered to be re-mailed with the official Christmas postmark. This has been going on since 1930 when postmistress Juanita Tucker began stamping letters with “Glory to God in the Highest—Christmas, Orange County, Florida.” Today, the Christmas post office offers a choice of postmarks from Hanukah to Kwanza to Christmas, nobody gets left out. Of course this has only increased business at the post office. Some letters come in not for the postmark, but are addressed simply to Santa Claus. Maybe folks think that Santa, like so many other northerners, has retired to Florida. You can see a display of these items all year at the post office, but if you plan to do any holiday mailings from Christmas, you’d better get there early.

I'd like a drumstick, please.

I’d like a drumstick, please.

Our final destination tip is an EVENT, as well as a geographical location.  It’s the Rooster Roundup in Key West, Florida.  The town has been overrun with feral roosters and hens for decades.  Tender-hearted city residents have not wanted to butcher the fowl, but the constant, strident crowing of roosters tends to make even the most charitable inhabitant thirst for the Colonel’s Special Recipe when dealing with this avian nuisance.  As a compromise, the city holds an annual Rooster Roundup during the last weekend in March.  You can come on down with any kind of silk mesh net you can construct or buy, and chase chickens to your heart’s delight; for every hen or rooster you net you are given a token, which is redeemable at any of 20 restaurants in the area for a free drink and/or appetizer.  The chickens are delivered to a nearby alligator farm, where they are tenderly released to wander around . . . well, no need to go into the details!

 

 

Bumper Stickers

bumper

 

Americans, like Nature, abhor a vacuum; a blank space in the scenery, such as the side of a barn or a board fence, has attracted the devious talents of advertisers and graffiti artists since our country’s inception.  In Colonial times, when the Revolution was brewing along with the tea dumped in Boston Harbor, hundreds of large boulders that lay scattered around the state of Massachusetts along the main roads were painted with lime to read “DON’T TREAD ON ME!”  The Pennsylvania Dutch have been painting gorgeously colored and designed hex signs over the fronts of their barns and houses for over 300 years.  And Dan Rice, a famous frontier entertainer, who once ran for President and whose character was appropriated for our iconic Uncle Sam, was the first of many to plaster the sides of barns and long rows of fences with inexpensive and lurid lithographed circus posters.  Indeed, this habit of covering up any and every space available with advertising or political messages became so outrageously prevalent that every major city in America finally began passing laws against the indiscriminate pasting up of posters.  POST NO BILLS took the place of gaudy circus posters.

But Americans just can’t help themselves – they need to leave a trace of themselves on the scenery wherever they happen to be.  Thus, in Europe, during World War Two, after the most ferocious battles, GI’s would scribble KILROY WAS HERE on the sides of blasted buildings.

When automobiles first became a common sight on the roadways of America, no one thought to plaster them with messages.  Mostly because of their curvy and carriage-like build; it was hard to find a flat surface large enough for a postcard, let alone a poster.

But all that changed with the introduction of the bumper.

The Ford Model A was the first American car to feature a bumper, back in 1927; we can date the invention of bumper stickers to roughly that same time.  Many sources, including Wikipedia, credit a silk screen printer from Kansas City, Missouri, one George P. Gill, with coming up with the bright idea of advertising his business on placards that could be attached to car bumpers by pressure sensitive adhesive.

In the late 1930’s if you visited a tourist attraction like Rock City, in Tennessee, or the Fountain of Youth in Saint Augustine, Florida, your bumper would be surreptitiously covered with a placard announcing you had just visited the famous attraction; these advertisements were wired onto your bumper by employees while you and your family were away enjoying the sights.  There is no record of anyone suing these tourist traps for defacing their vehicles; it was a more laid-back time.

In the 1950’s the bumper sticker came into its own, especially with political slogans.  “I LIKE IKE” was the most popular sticker during the 1952 presidential race, touting Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Another popular bumper sticker, in response to the perceived Red Menace, was “BETTER DEAD THAN RED!”  A lot of pickup trucks had that one.

In Sweden it is against the law to have any kind of sticker on the bumper of your car . . . but you can have all you want on the rear window!

Today bumper stickers are a multi-million dollar business in the United States.  In fact, it’s almost impossible to find a vehicle on the road today that doesn’t sport at least one bumper sticker, either bragging about a child in an honors program or explaining that their other car is a broom or exhorting people to honk if they love baseball.

What’s your favorite bumper sticker?

honking

We’re Not Joking!

joke

 

The automobile became a cultural icon in America long ago, probably by 1912.  Since then everyone talks about them, reads about them, drives them, and, occasionally, curses them.  But they are indispensable, and have bonded with the American psyche to produce a unique and vibrant vocabulary that, as H.L. Mencken might grudgingly admit, is one of the glories of the American Lexicon.  We have back seat drivers; we toot our own horns; we live in the fast lane; and our grandfathers yelled derisively at pioneer drivers “Get a horse!”

There are probably more jokes about automobiles than about anything else – except, perhaps, mothers-in-law.  And when it’s a joke about a mother-in-law behind the wheel – hoo-eey, now THAT’S a joke!  Metro Traffic School would like to brighten your day by displaying a few of the better auto jokes.  If you have a favorite driving story, feel free to share it with us as well!

Here goes:

  • A guy walks into an auto parts store and tells the clerk: “I’d like a gas cap for my Kia.”  The clerk replies:  “Sounds like a fair trade to me.”
  • A boastful Western rancher was visiting a truck farmer in Vermont.  The farmer proudly showed him his tomatoes, cucumber vines, corn and pumpkin patch, and the tiny pond used to water the one cow.  The rancher was astonished at how small the farm was, and arrogantly told the farmer “Back on my ranch I’d get in the car before the sun was up and drive and drive and drive for hours, and by the time the sun set I’d only be half way across my ranch!”  “Yeah” replied the farmer sympathetically, “I used to have a car like that, too.”
  • The Pope arrives in New York City and is met by a chauffeured car.  It’s a brand-new and very sporty model, so the Pope asks the chauffeur if he can drive it for a while.  After hesitating, the chauffeur agrees.  After all, how do you say no to the Pope?  So the Pope gets behind the wheel and steps on the gas!  He’s going down the road at 100 mph when a policeman pulls him over.  When the cop sees who’s behind the wheel he tells the Pope to wait a minute, please, and goes back to his squad car to radio the chief, saying “Hey chief, I’ve got a real problem out here.”  The chief asks “What kind of problem?”  Cop: “I pulled over this guy for speeding, but it turns out he’s real important.”  Chief: “How important, like the Mayor?”  Cop: “No, more important than that.”  Chief: Important like the Governor?”  Cop: “More important than that.”  Chief: “Like the president?”  Cop:  “Way more important.”  Now the chief scoffs: “C’mon, who’s more important than the president?”  Cop:  “I dunno, but he’s got the Pope driving for him!”
  • Remember:  Children in the backseat can cause accidents, and accidents in the back seat can cause children!
  • A mechanic was working in his shop late one night when a man rushes in and yells “Please, you’ve got to help me!”  “What’s wrong?” asks the mechanic.  “I keep thinking I’m a moth!” replied the man.  The dumbfounded mechanic says “Well, I’m sorry to hear that, but you need a psychiatrist, not a mechanic.”  “Yes, I know” says the man, now much calmer.  “Well then,” asks the mechanic, getting angry, “why did you come in here?”  The man says “Your light was on.”

My Wheels.

goodyear

We have been referring to our automobiles as “my wheels” since the 1930’s, reflecting the importance of those four circular tubes that keep our vehicle rolling, come rain or come shine.  Automobile tires have come a long way since Fred Flintstone chiseled his out of solid stone, and so let’s take a little trip down History Lane for some interesting background on the automobile tire – that appendage we rarely think about, unless it goes flat or is worn bald.

There are about 450 tire factories, world-wide.  China has the majority of them – over 339.  Over a billion tires are expected to be sold in 2014, with probably a billion more used ones discarded to be shredded and remelted, made into cheap sandals, festooned around boats and piers to cushion the shock of contact, or hung by a rope individually on a sturdy tree branch for a swing.  Sadly, the majority of used tires cannot be reclaimed or recycled and are still being bulldozed into landfills, where they do NOT biodegrade and are a constant fire hazard.  A smoldering tire fire is one of the most repulsive blots on post-industrial America.  That is why most states impose a disposal tax on car tires; to help pay for disposing of them in a way that won’t leave them vulnerable to burning.  In Florida you pay a New Tire Fee instead – which means that you are charged one dollar for every new tire you buy.  Recent experiments off the Florida Keys with used tires to encourage growth of new coral beds have had mixed results; the corals attach themselves readily to the tires, but some of the chemicals in the rubber seem to inhibit the steady growth of the coral once it colonizes a tire pile.

American history textbooks have inculcated the name of Charles Goodyear into our brains for the past century as the inventor of vulcanized rubber, which made automobile tires possible.  Prior to Goodyear’s discovery, rubber was a sticky and unstable element that grew brittle in cold weather and turned to taffy in hot weather.  It was good for little more than coating jackets to make rain coats or brushing on boots to make galoshes.  When Goodyear accidentally knocked a brick of sulfur into a vat of latex rubber he was heating on the stove, he discovered that the resulting product stayed elastic in cold weather, would not run in hot weather, and lost its irritating gumminess altogether.  Today we honor his discovery by naming a blimp after him and flying it around the Super Bowl each year.  The actual inventor of vulcanized rubber was a British scientist named Thomas Hancock, but where’s HIS blimp, we’d like to know!

John Boyd Dunlop, of Scotland, invented the rubber pneumatic inner tube in 1887.  It was initially used only for bicycles, but car manufacturers, especially Henry Ford, saw the desirability of having inflated tires that could cushion some of the blows from the era’s rough roads and requested Dunlop’s company to begin manufacturing rubber inner tubes to their specifications.  The reason Americans don’t hear much about Dunlop car tires is that the company soon branched out into making golf and tennis balls – which Americans buy in vast quantities.  But we still like our Goodyear tires better.

After all, you can’t beat a Blimp for hypnotizing the American public!

The Long and Winding Road

road

 

What were roads like before the automobile came along with its insistent and unending demands for a smooth yet durable surface?

Stone paved streets date back more than four-thousand years in the Middle East.  They were built for soldiers to march from one engagement to another.   Civilians had to stay off of them, on penalty of death.

So-called corduroy roads were built in Merry Olde England over two thousand years ago – these are roads made of oak logs laid side by side.  They were especially useful in boggy, swampy areas, as they would float instead of sink.  Anyone who has attempted to drive over a washboard road in a rural area knows just how inconvenient and bumpy a corduroy road would be – only the hardiest of Roman Legionnaires and desperate merchants or pious pilgrims would attempt to travel more than a single mile on one.  Otherwise, you’d probably have your teeth shaken out.

Tar roads were first devised and constructed by the Moslems of Baghdad over twelve-hundred years ago.

Gravel roads began with John Loudon McAdam, of Scotland, in the 1820’s.  These were made with soil and clay intermixed with the small gravel, and named macadam.  Soon, macadamized roads were stretching all over England, Australia, and the United States.

Tarmac roads added tar to the macadam mixture, plus a bit of Portland cement, and the whole thing was pressed down by steamrollers.  These kinds of roads became common with the advent of the motor vehicle in the 1910’s.

Today in the United States there are approximately 2.6 million miles of paved roads, and an additional 1.6 million miles of unpaved road that are made of either gravel, coral, or clinkers.

Instructions for driving on paved roads are fairly common and common sensical.  But did you know that there are a few things you should do differently when driving on an unpaved road?

For instance, most unpaved roads have large drainage ditches immediately on each side – this is to keep the gravel or crushed coral from flooding and floating away during heavy showers.  Instead, the water runs through the loose grave and right into the ditch.  That is why most gravel roads are bordered with what appear to be sluggish streams of water.  They are actually very long drainage ditches.

So when driving on a gravel or crushed coral road you want to make sure you stay well clear of the edge of the road – otherwise you may find yourself in a very deep ditch, with water slowly oozing into your car!  Also, when driving on gravel never go over 45 miles per hour; that is the maximum speed at which your tires will not spin out of control, sending you into an inadvertent wheelie.

Never drive on a coral road during a thunderstorm, as the coral contains enough metal salts to attract lightning bolts on a regular basis.

Never drive over a gravel road that has been covered by snow; the snow acts as a mild glue, and the gravel can stick to your tires to such an extent that it interferes with the shocks and brakes.

The latest innovation in roadways is happening in Israel.  The Israelis are experimenting with making roads out of shredded used tires, without melting them down completely prior to laying them down.  So far, they have over two-hundred miles of used tire roads in Israel, and the Israelis claim the rough roads prevent rollovers and speeding to a marvelous extent.

The Drive-in Theater — Passion Pit or Cultural Icon?

drivein

 

The automobile is a wonderful mode of transportation, carrying us from city to city, state to state, even nation to nation – and it can also transport us to realms of imagination and thrills, as well as romance!  We’re talking about drive-in theaters!

Once ubiquitous across the land, and especially in Florida, where in the mid-1950’s there were over 189 of them, there are only a handful of drive-in theaters left in Florida, but those that survive are doing a thriving business as more and more families and couples discover or rediscover the inexpensive pleasure of sitting in their own car watching a Hollywood movie.  At a modern cinema, ticket prices often go as high as $15.00, or more, while at the humble drive-in the ticket price is usually around $5.00 – less for children.  Most drive-ins don’t care if you bring your own popcorn and drinks, and if you have kids there’s no one to complain if they yell and scream inside your car. Most of them show double-features – so you get two movies for the price of one.  All Florida drive-ins prohibit bringing alcohol onto their premises, and many now have a no-smoking policy as well.

If you are a Florida driver and would like to experience the drive-in, here is a list of all the current drive-ins left in Florida:

Central Florida & Tampa Bay

  • Ocala Drive-in Theatre (4850 S. Pine Ave., Ocala, 352-629-1325, ocaladrivein.info)
  • Fun Lan Drive-in Theatre (2302 E. Hillsborough Ave., Tampa, 813-234-2311, fun-lan.com)
  • Joy-Lan Drive-in Theatre (16414 U.S. Highway 301, Dade City, 352-567-5085,joylandrivein.com)
  • Ruskin Family Drive-in Theatre (5011 N. U.S. Highway 41, Ruskin, 813-645-1455,ruskinfamilydrivein.com)
  • Silver Moon Drive-in Theatre (4100 New Tampa Highway, Lakeland, 863-682-0849,silvermoondrivein.com)
  • Dezer Collection Museum (2000 NE 146th St., North Miami, 305-354-7680,dezercollection.com)
  • Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop (3291 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-791-7927,floridaswapshop.com)
  • Lake Worth Drive-in and Swap Shop (3438 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, 561-965-3624,floridaswapshop.com)

South Florida

  • Dezer Collection Museum (2000 NE 146th St., North Miami, 305-354-7680,dezercollection.com)
  • Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop (3291 W. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-791-7927,floridaswapshop.com)
  • Lake Worth Drive-in and Swap Shop (3438 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth, 561-965-3624,floridaswapshop.com)

 

Today’s Florida drive-in features first-run movies, but every once in a while the managers will throw a bone to those older, nostalgic folks who remember the sometimes cheesy and always low-budget beach party and sci-fi/horror movies of the 50’s and 60’s that led to so much screaming and . . . cuddling.  Anyone remember these gems?

BEACH BLANKET BIMBO.  1963.  Starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello.  With Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper, and cameo appearances by Peter Lorre as the butler, Don Rickles as Harold Stassen, and Buster Keaton as a totem pole.  The plot has Frankie falling in love with a space alien, played by Tina Louise, who has come to earth to study human mating rituals.  Annette, of course, is furious and jealous, and persuades her gang of friends and surfers to sing so many dopey love songs that Tina is forced back to her planet by chronic tinnitus.

IT CAME FROM NEW JERSEY. 1952.  Starring Peter Graves, Leslie Nielsen, and Mamie Van Doren.  Script by Ray Bradbury.  Special effects by Ray Harryhausen.  Music for the theremin composed by Franz Waxman.   Something is rotten in the state of New Jersey, and scientist Leslie Nielsen and his assistant Van Doren are sent to investigate.  They discover that mad scientist Peter Graves has crossed a mafia hood with a horse shoe crab, creating a hideous thing that only comes out at night to sing at Italian weddings.  They destroy it with a barrage of radioactive bran muffins.

Car Quiz.

quest

 

It’s Friday.  The weather is lousy in much of the country (it might even rain in Miami today!)  And there isn’t anything really good on TV tonight.  So what are you going to do to brighten up your life on this dismal Friday?  How about taking the First Annual Metro Traffic School Car Quiz?  Americans have had a love affair with the automobile ever since Henry Ford started rolling them off the assembly line back in 1913, so let’s see how much cultural knowledge you have about, say, the Hupmobile or Stanley Steamer, or maybe even the Edsel!  Answers will appear at the bottom of the blog — no cheating now!

  1.  In what year was the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways started?
  2. Automobiles and the Interstate made the suburbs possible; what was the name of the first planned suburb in the United States, where was it located, and in what year was it started?
  3. What is the difference between a hot rod and a jalopy?
  4. Who was Barney Oldfield?
  5. High speed cars needed an extremely flat and hard surface to be tested and raced on, which was provided by the natural phenomenon of the Bonneville Salt Flats.  In what state are the Flats located in?
  6. What does NASCAR stand for?
  7. Pastor Robert Schuller started the first drive-in church service, where worshippers could park their car and listen to his sermon through a speaker attached to their car window; where in California was this done, and in what year did he start it?
  8. Songs celebrating the automobile are too numerous to list completely, but can you name just three?
  9. What famous comedian had a long-running gag about driving a decrepit Maxwell car?
  10. Who was the infamous Ford Edsel named after?
  11. Little Trees are a popular disposable air freshener for cars, that come in the shape of a pine tree and are often hung from the rear view mirror;  In what year were they invented, and by whom?

car

  1.  1956.
  2. Levittown, Pennsylvania.  The suburb was built just outside of Philadelphia.  Construction started in 1951.
  3. A hot rod is a car that is rebuilt for increased speed.  A jalopy is any car with a reconfigured chassis that doesn’t run too reliably.
  4. Barney Oldfield was an American pioneer car racer.  He was the first man to drive a car at over 60 miles per hour.  He was often referenced in early, silent movies, and, in fact, made several silent films himself.
  5. This densely packed salt pan is located in Tooele County in northwestern Utah.
  6. “National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing”.
  7. Schuller began his drive-in ministry in Garden Grove, California, in 1955.
  8. Rocket 88.  In My Merry Oldsmobile.  Hot Rod Lincoln.  Maybellene.  Wake Up, Little Suzie.  Teen Angel.  Cadillac Ranch.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Get Out and Get Under.  Little Deuce Coupe.  Mustang Sally.  Surf City.  See the USA in Your Chevrolet.  And about a million others!
  9. Radio and TV comedian Jack Benny, whose performance persona was a penny pinching miser, made his long-suffering chauffeur Rochester drive the asthmatic Maxwell long after the vehicle was ready for the junkyard.  The sound effects of the sputtering wreck were supplied by the nonpareil voice artist Mel Blanc.
  10. The Edsel brand of motor car was only produced for three years by the Ford Motor Company; 1958, 1959, and 1960.  It was a marketing disaster on par with New Coke.  The car was named after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel.  Interestingly, mint-condition models of the Edsel now fetch as much as $100,000 from car collectors!
  11. The ubiquitous air fresheners were invented in Watertown, New York, in 1952, by Julius Samann.

fresh

How to Study Effectively.

 

tips

Whether you’re getting your first Learner’s Permit or participating in a court-mandated class at Metro Traffic School, it’s important to develop effective study methods in order to retain the knowledge you need to pass your test(s).  For some people passing a simple driver’s test is easy, but for many others it does take hours of hard work.  No matter how you feel about it, you can always use good study habits to help you analyze and succeed at any kind of testing situation that you may face.   Here are some sound study habits that have proven successful for college students, and they can be just as successful for you!

  • Memory is strengthened by location, so switch your study areas; spend an hour or two at the library one day, and then the next day try the local coffee shop for your studies.  Cognitive scientists say this is the best way to maximize your brain’s resilience.
  • Join a study group.  Working with your peers on memorization and comprehension is an excellent way to boost your ability to retain and use the knowledge you’ve picked up in class.  Besides, it can always turn into a night out with the boys – or the girls!
  • Use flash cards.  This may sound like a kindergarten stunt, but even the brightest scholars have found that internalizing mundane facts and figures is much easier when the information is first written down on flash cards, and then reviewed on a regular basis.
  • Since you are studying to take a test, do a few dry-run tests prior to the real one.  Get the feel of what the questions will be like, how simple or complicated they might be.  The Internet is a great place to get samples of any kind of test, including driver’s license tests!
  • Mens sana in corpore sano.  That’s Latin for ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body.’  If you’re tired and distracted with a headache you will not perform as well as you could on a test.  The night before get a full night’s rest, eat a light meal before bed, nothing heavy, and avoid too much caffeine and alcohol.  These simple actions will help boost your confidence, as well as your health, when you take your test.
  • Don’t worry about where you belong on the learning curve.  Studies show that categorizing yourself, as a slow learner or a left-brainer, are impediments to every kind of scholarship and knowledge gain.  Don’t let others label you and, especially, don’t label yourself or put yourself into some kind of category.  Just have a general positive self-image; it’s how the best students get the best grades.
  • Don’t skip any of your classes, or chapters in the book.  Seems obvious, doesn’t it?  But a recent poll of college students shows that 49% of them skip class on a regular basis, and that their grades are falling as a result.  ANYBODY SEE THE CONNECTION?
  • Manage your time, and if you have trouble in this area get with someone who can show you how to effectively manage it.  Procrastination is the thief of time, and it may also rob you of your driver’s license if your time management skills are poor.  It’s no crime to want to put things off – we all feel that way from time to time – but the difference between success and failure is often the difference between doing a difficult task when it needs to be done and doing it “when I feel like it.”

Traffic Signals.

light

 

Interstate 75 in Florida has absorbed Alligator Alley, that beloved section of road that crossed the state, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic.  Old-timers fondly recall the road as a great drive through cypress swamps and palmetto groves.  It was not originally slated to become part of the Interstate Highway System, but was built by the H.L. Mills Construction Company in 1955 as a toll road.  It was widened to four lanes in 1986, supplanting  the Tamiami Trail, which ran from Naples to Miami – that road is still two-lane, and for nature lovers is a great drive, due to the fact that there are no high fences to keep the wildlife, including alligators and nutria, from crossing the road wherever they want.

No one today seems to know why, but Alligator Alley was the first road in Florida to gain a stoplight, back in 1922.  This was, purportedly, to keep traffic from spilling into Miami at a breakneck speed.  Prior to that epochal date, there were only live policemen on duty at certain busy street corners to direct traffic, and no automatic stoplight system in Florida.

While we’re on the subject of stoplights, we might as well go back to the first recorded stoplight, which was built in front of the House of Parliament in London, England, in 1868.  It was a gas-lighted semaphore system designed by railroad engineers, to keep the horse and buggy traffic in check when Parliament was in session.  It seems that Queen Victoria had complained of the gridlock around Parliament when she came to open the two Houses of Parliament.  That particular stoplight only lasted a few months before it blew up (it was lit by coal gas) and another light was not installed near Parliament until electricity became available in the first years of the Twentieth century.

Here in the United States, Salt Lake City, Utah, was the first metropolitan area to utilize a complete stoplight system for its downtown area.  That was in 1917.  The first computerized stoplight system (which conspiracy enthusiasts still insist is controlled by a madman located on the moon) was installed in Toronto, Canada, in 1968.

Do you ever get tired of waiting at a traffic light, and wonder what genius came up with the waiting period between light changes?  Well, you can thank Edgar L. Buchanan, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, who began timing and analyzing traffic, first in Chicago and then in New York City, back in the 1920’s.  From his calculations it was determined that during rush hour traffic signals should be set at exactly 75 seconds, and during slack periods they should be set at 86 second cycles.  The only large city that does not follow Buchanan’s recommendations is Albany, New York, where state legislators, no doubt feeling their oats and wanting to flex their muscles, mandated that all traffic lights, no matter where or when, must change every 48 seconds.

In Florida, of course, you’ll always want to obey traffic signals.  Although penalties for disobeying traffic signals are standardized today, it was not always the case in Florida.  Back in 1948 a traffic court judge in Homosassa Springs, Florida, found a defendant guilty of running a red light and decreed the speed demon had to take his mother-in-law in his car for all drives within the city limits for the next six months!