October 2012 Archives

Would You Pay To Avoid Traffic Jams?

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I recently read or heard an economist recommend that more of America's expressways be made toll roads as a way to more fairly distribute the cost of building and maintaining highways. Instead of making everyone pay for roads, have those who actually use the roads bear more of the financial burden of upkeep.

Makes sense, especially if you have lots of money to add toll booths and barriers to enforce the tolls. Here in Michigan, we don't have a lot of cash lying around.

Now comes a new twist: add just one toll lane.

The city of Austin, Tex., where traffic is becoming more and more snarled, they are doing just that. I read about it (where else?) on the Freakonomics blog.

It's Deer Hit Season

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On Michigan's roads, there are actually three seasons: winter, road construction, and deer hit season.

Deer hits are common throughout the year, but, as we all know, they really ramp up in October and November. In all of 2011, there 53,592 deer crashes according to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center. That's down by nearly 2,000 from the previous year. But in eight of those crashes, people died.

You can imagine the cost in injuries to people and damage repair to vehicles, let alone the cost to the deer. We're crashing into them, shooting at them. I'd be moving out, but I'm not a forest dwelling ruminant.

How can you avoid deer hits? The nuclear option would be to move to Australia; they don't have deer there. Short of that, the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition has some ideas:

  • Be watchful for deer at dawn and dusk. They tend to move about at that time of day.
  • If you see one anywhere, sharpen your level of alert; there are usually more you can't see.
  • When you see one cross the road, expect more; they tend to walk in single file.
  • When you see 'Deer Crossing' signs, be alert; there's a reason the signs were put there. The location is known to be popular with deer.
  • Don't swerve; chances are good you'll go off the road if you do.

That last one will be hard. We have to get in the habit of slowing down and driving straight when we see a deer.

Here are the 2011 statistics county-by-county:

  • Allegan 973
  • Barry 918
  • Berrien 746
  • Branch 941
  • Calhoun 1,429
  • Ionia 878
  • Kalamazoo 1,011
  • Kent 1,750
  • Mecosta 873
  • Montcalm 1,340
  • Muskegon 588
  • Newaygo 563
  • Ottawa 1,111
  • Van Buren 620

Shake Your Mailbox

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Mailbox in snow.JPG
I have never seen this kind of public notice, but that doesn't mean governments haven't sent them out.

The Kalamazoo County Road Commission is recommending that you shake your mailbox. That is, if you have a mailbox on a post next to the street, make sure it is secure in the ground before the snow flies.

I don't have such a mailbox, but they got my attention.

In a recent press release, the commission said that most mailboxes that are damaged in the winter are not hit by snowplows, but they are damaged when snow is pushed against them by snowplows and the mailboxes are not solidly anchored in the ground.

Hence the phrase, Shake Your Mailbox.

See if it's loose. A firmly planted mailbox stands a better chance to remain standing against the onslaught of snow kicked up by city and county plows.

Makes sense.

Saturday, October 20, is Shake Your Mailbox Day. Yes, there's a Shake Your Mailbox Day. 

By the way, government, including the Kalamazoo County Road Commission, does not take responsibility for mailboxes damaged as a result of snowplowing operations, but KCRC will take a claim into consideration if it is clear that damage was caused by direct contact from one of their snowplows.

FOX 17 small

Traffic Blog: Through My Dirty Windshield
FOX 17 Home

New Cars Segment Begins Friday

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Every Friday around 6:45 a.m. on FOX 17 Morning News, learn what Jean knows about cars.

Jean Jennings has her own web site, and Ford has picked her up to sponsor her new TV segments. 

Don't expect the same old thing from Jean, even though she has lived and breathed cars all her life

Don't believe me? Watch our first interview:

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2012 is the previous archive.

November 2012 is the next archive.

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