OUR VIEWS

Our View: Drive carefully

June 20, 2014 

Summer vacation dreams are in full gear, so more people are hitting the roads. That may explain the uptick in deadly crashes recently in the area. The death of two people in a north Modesto crash Monday was the third fatal traffic crash this month and the eighth this year within the city of Modesto.

According to an Expedia survey, as the numbers of drivers on the roads increase, courteous driving habits seem to decrease. The 2014 Expedia Road Rage Report found the texter, tailgater, drifter and crawler are the types of drivers who incite the most road rage.

The travel site’s survey found 69 percent of drivers rated those who texted behind the wheel as the worst for rudeness. Next come the tailgaters at 60 percent, multitaskers at 54 percent, drifters at 43 percent and crawlers at 39 percent.

Red light racers came in at 39 percent in the survey of 1,001 Americans.

A survey of 2,800 British motorists by VouncherCodePro, a money-saving site, singled out Friday afternoon and Monday morning work commutes as peak times for drivers to lash out.

As you get behind the wheel, take a deep breath. Remember, getting mad isn’t going to help. When you are behind the wheel, behave as you would in the presence of an impressionable child or, better yet, your grandma. You wouldn’t want to fire away with a string of four-letter words or hand gestures in front of either one.

Heather Graves, Modesto police spokeswoman, offers these defensive driving tips:

• Slow down.

• Maintain a safe cushion between you and the car in front of you.

• Stay aware of your surroundings by checking mirrors and areas around you.

• Brake early.

• Don’t underestimate an approaching vehicle’s speed, particularly when making a left turn.

• Use tools such as your lights and horn.

• Plan ahead so you arrive at your destination safely.

• Keep distractions out of arm’s length (cellphones, food, animals, make-up).

• Be courteous.

And Graves adds – in all caps – don’t drink and drive, and always wear your seat belt and keep children in age-appropriate safety seats.

Nuts welcome a new mascot

The Modesto Nuts matched their worst first-half record in 50 years with 23 wins, but it didn’t stop them from registering the second largest first-half attendance in team history.

To add to the excitement, in the stands – if not on the field – the Nuts unveiled their first female mascot. Shelley the Pistachio has joined Al the Almond and Wally the Walnut.

Here’s the skinny on pistachios, according to the American Pistachio Growers: About 49 nuts contain 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of heart-healthy fat for about 160 calories.

Stanislaus has about 155 acres of pistachios. The total acreage in Merced County is 6,731 acres, according to the American Pistachio Growers. Merced County produced 12,098,808 pounds of pistachios, making it the sixth largest producing county in California.

Be safe and sane this July 4

Fireworks booths are popping up, and so are thoughts of Fourth of July celebrations.

Bone-dry drought conditions mean revelers should be extra cautious when planning celebrations involving fireworks at home, said Shane Hawkins, with the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District.

On Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than on any other day, according to the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA’s Fireworks report from June 2011 goes on to say that fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.

“The safest way is to go to a professional show,” said Hawkins.

If you’re going to buy fireworks, he said, obtain them from a legal booth and make sure they’re stamped with the “Safe and Sane” seal from the state fire marshal’s office.

“Pick a safe location on the street on the pavement or sidewalk and not near any dry vacant field or dry grass or any structures of any kind, or vehicles,” Hawkins said. “It’s a good idea to have a metal pail of water or 5-gallon bucket of water for after the fireworks are done, because those types of fireworks tend to smolder.

“After they cool down, let them soak overnight in the bucket of water before discarding. And, obviously, never let children play with the fireworks. Only adults should light them.”

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