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On the Lighter Side

A wicked bumpah stickah

When most people think of Boston, “conscientious drivers” isn’t the first descriptor that comes to mind. “War zone” might be a little more fitting.

That may explain why Beantown officials are trying a new approach at curtailing the city’s notoriously aggressive motorists.

According to The Boston Globe, City Councilor Robert Consalvo has introduced a proposal that would ask drivers to sign an oath swearing they’ll obey the traffic laws at all times.

The oath signers would also be given bumper stickers for their vehicles to urge other drivers to sign the oath.

It may sound crazy, but Boston isn’t the first city to try this – Greensboro, NC, for example, has had a similar program in place since 2003. Unfortunately, less than 100 residents in the city of nearly a quarter of a million have signed up, The Globe reported.

Judging by the mindset of many of the Boston’s drivers, slapping a bumper sticker on the back of do-gooders’ cars probably wouldn’t make them examples – if anything, it might make them moving targets.


That'll show 'em

Work crews in Southern California weren’t having much fun last year during a widening project on a section of state Highway 138.

According to the Los Angeles Times, two workers were hit by cars and a third was shot with a BB gun, all of which were apparent road rage incidents.

Luckily, no one was seriously injured – but why so much hostility?

It’s because the roadway – located between Palmdale and Lancaster – is situated in an area that’s becoming increasingly popular to former Los Angeles residents who’ve fled the city’s rampant overpopulation, the Times claims.

But as more and more people made the move, the area’s highway infrastructure needs grew as well – and road workers involved with the widening began to feel the wrath of residents who were irritated to see the same kind of congestion they had tried so valiantly to avoid.

To protect its workers, California Department of Transportation officials made a surprising move – they shut down the section of roadway entirely, despite the fact that it’s a relatively major travel route through the area.

To put it in simpler terms, it looks like Caltrans did the construction equivalent of taking its ball and going home – at least until the project is completed and the road is reopened.


What a scream

If you think noise ordinances for trucks are ridiculous, take a look at what visitors to the Scandia Family Fun Center in Sacramento, CA, have to deal with.

According to KOVR-TV, the amusement park features a 168-foot high, 60-mph ride, which is capable of hurtling thrill-seekers through the air at 3.5 Gs.

However, because of multiple noise complaints from residents living in a nearby neighborhood, the Fun Center has prohibited riders from screaming, and has threatened to kick out of the park anyone who violates the rule.

Since you’re reading this in “On the Lighter Side,” can you guess the name of the ride?

Sure you can. It’s “The Screamer,” of course.


At some point, walking becomes faster

It’s a sight every trucker’s seen in the side mirrors before – that little pest of a four-wheeler that’s practically glued to the trailer’s back bumper.

There could be any number of reasons for such a dangerous driving maneuver. For example, the driver could be a few steps lower on the evolutionary chart than most people. But if that car’s a hybrid, that ridiculous driving might be part of a scary new trend known as “hypermiling.”

In theory, the concept is admirable. Hybrid drivers are attempting to improve their fuel economy to abnormally high levels. For some drivers, their miles per gallon have jumped into the triple digits.

Unfortunately, while hypermiling is a good idea in theory, it’s terrible in practice. Besides tailgating trucks, drivers are also traveling well below the speed limit, over-inflating their tires to reduce rolling resistance, and turning off their engines – and, we would assume, a great deal of steering control – so they can coast down hills.

If there’s one positive to all of this, it’s that many of the participants say they’re smart enough to know that no amount of fuel economy is worth the danger of tailgating an 80,000-pound rig.

Triple-digit fuel economy is impressive, but if hypermilers are serious, they might want to take a look at Shell’s annual Eco-Marathon. During the 2007 competition in France, a specially built fuel cell vehicle set a new record by traveling 3,039 kilometers on one liter of fuel.

In case you’re metrically challenged, that’s about 1,888 miles using about a fourth of a gallon of fuel, or 7,552 miles per gallon. And no, that’s not a typo – we had to double-check it ourselves.


“On The Lighter Side” is written by Aaron Ladage, staff editor.
He may be reached at