Electronic Design

What's all this "driving into accidents" stuff, anyhow?

A while back, I decided what I would write about for my next book. It took a year longer than I expected, but it's here: How to Drive Into ACCIDENTS—And How NOT To. It's 488 action-packed pages. (OK, one page is blank.)

What is the book about? I want beginning drivers to learn thoughtful, advanced techniques for making decisions, driving defensively, and avoiding accidents. So, I wrote about all the ways that funny little habits or quirks become bad habits, and how these can work together with other factors—conspiring to cause accidents.

For example, most people have figured out that the phrase "Speed Kills" is baloney. Yet, driving fast CAN compound with other factors to get you in trouble, cause accidents, and get you killed, or, even worse, get you badly injured.... Whereas bad visibility is much more perilous than merely speeding.

Why am I qualified to write this book? I have driven over 1,000,000 mi. I have seen other people's accidents, and discussed them. I think that I know enough about cars. And I think I understand the physics, the mechanics—and human nature.

Why did I think I could write this book? Hey, I have already written one book, so I knew I could write another. Word by word, paragraph by paragraph, topic by topic, file by file—I knew I could do it.

Process those words. CRUNCH those topics. I was confident that by September, I'd have 90% of the draft typed up. Yeah, but back in 1995, I neglected to say, September of which year.

Who is the book for? It's for any inexperienced or new driver. Now, a person who doesn't know much about driving yet, or doesn't drive, is not going to appreciate all this stuff, until later. That's OK. This is a good book for beginning and intermediate drivers. I do not think it will screw up the head of the non-driver, but it won't do him a lot of good, either. I mean, if you have never held a tennis racquet in your hand, a book about how to play better tennis is not going to sink in really well. (This book is NOT intended to teach you to drive. You need a smart driver, a good teacher, for that. Then, this book can be helpful to teach you to be a better driver.)

Who is going to buy this book? Obviously, that is where the mothers and fathers of the young drivers come in. They are going to buy a LARGE number of the books. That part is easy. Obviously, I can sprinkle around just enough guilt-oriented comments that people will buy. What parent would not buy this book, for his kid? Then, after the kid starts to read the book, I have to keep his interest—with good writing; interesting ideas; and, most of all, examples. Examples of accidents and near-accidents.

Obviously, this book has to get good reviews, well-targeted advertising, etc. I have a lot of good ideas about how to promote this book.

What's in the book? There's about 61 chapters, about 380 pages of important topics. Additionally there's about 100 pages of appendices that give you good advice on driving competently. There are four of my columns reprinted from Electronic Design—on Reflex Response, Dead Cars, Stupid Dangerous Stuff, and Double-Clutching.

Where's the incentive for me to write this? Lots of $$$? Well, I am going to give one-third of the profits to safer-driving organizations, and one-third to safer-flying organizations. The other one-third (after taxes) will probably not be enough for me to retire on. But that's ok. My motivation is to save lives and save pain. Maybe in the long run, our automobile insurance rates will stop rising!

What was the first motivation for the book? My cousin lost her daughter, Christine, in an unfortunate car accident, a few years back.The idea began to grow, but I got sidetracked until the fall of 1994.

What's the big deal about safe flying? I lost three friends who flew into the ground. Chuck Everhart used to work for National, 20 years ago. He was a test engineer in National's ALIC group—he programmed our first Teradynes. He was an excellent, safe, conservative, and cautious pilot with over 5000 hours of flying time. All of his friends were confident that Chuck would be a long-term survivor, and would retire from flying at the age of 85. He was flying up in the foothills, up near Tuolomne City, Calif., in December of 1994. He was too low for a ridge, in heavy clouds; he barely cleared the ridge, but clipped a tree. Killed instantly. Too darned bad.

Ron Brown was taking a student on a lesson. A plane sneaked up behind him and did not see him. It clipped off his tail, and he lost control. They crashed and died.

Kathy Raphael was flying with her instructor and one other student, a couple years ago. They were all three good, smart pilots. They flew up a canyon in the Sierras, near Sonora Pass, Calif. The canyon got too tight, and they could not climb out of it, nor turn. They tried to loop out of it, crashed, and were killed instantly. They all knew enough to not try to fly up a canyon. But somehow, inadvertently, they did fly up the canyon. Paid a terrible price. Sigh. That motivated me.

I wish I could write a book to save the lives of young pilots, but I am not wise enough to do that. I'll let somebody else do that. But I CAN write a book to help young drivers. So I did. It just took all my spare time for a couple years.

The format of the book is explanations about how to drive correctly, and interesting stories about accidents, indicating how the various factors conspired to cause the accident.

How did this accident "happen?" What were the drivers THINKING? If you were in the same situation, could you avoid the accident by thinking? Or would you be better off if you were just trained to react? This book is as much about thinking, as it is about driving. I certainly am not going to teach kids anything by being preachy, but I think I can teach them with examples.

All along, I said that I wanted the list price to be not much more than 12 or 14 gallons of gas. Paperback. Affordable. (But if the price of gas goes down or up, I am not going to change the price of my book.)

I pitched this book to several publishers. I got a nice rejection letter from each one. That's OK. I just decided to self-publish. I'll show all those guys they were wrong! (Revenge is a GREAT motivator!)

Is there a possibility of a sequel, a video, a CD-ROM? Quite possible, if I get suggestions from readers. But I want to get this book out promptly, and start saving lives.

Ah yes, and what is the theme of the book? That quote from Count Otto von Bismarck, that was on the back cover of my older book: "Fools you are ...who say you like to learn from your mistakes.... I prefer to learn from the mistakes of others, and avoid the cost of my own."

For more information on this book, send a note to the address below, or you can also check out my new web sitew and obtain complete information: http://www.transtronix.com. To order this book, now in stock, send a check for $21.95 (tax and shipping included) to: Robert A. Pease, Pease Publishing, 682-E Miramar Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112-1232.

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected]—or:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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