On January 14, 2010, Galveston, Texas joined the 19 states and countless municipalities as well as Guam and D.C., that have banned texting and the creating and sending of electronic messages from a mobile device while driving. There are 6 states that have laws keeping that responsibility on a state level as opposed to local. A first time offense in Galveston carries a $500 dollar fine.
In the small rural community of Brazoria, about a 50 minute drive down the Nolan Ryan Expressway, just south of Houston, in a barn behind a simple ranch style house, sits an old four door 1964 Ford Falcon. Baby blue in color, needing some body work and a new engine to replace the old worn out 170 CID Thriftpower inline 6 as well as the 3 speed auto transmission. Actually in remarkably good condition if one considers it hasn’t been driven in about 35 years. Never as popular as it’s cooler brother, the Mustang that didn’t cost too much more, the Falcon was hugely popular with young families on a budget and Ford rated it at somewhere near 32mpg hwy.
Equipped with bias ply blackwall tires, steel rims, semi chrome hubcaps. It had blue vinyl interior that you could fry bacon on in the dog days of summer in Houston and a bench seat across the front. Granted, it might never be the muscle car we dream of, although it has a rich history in the 60’s and 70’s. This particular example of Detroit steel has an interesting story…
As it was approaching it’s 10th birthday, it’s voluminous trunk was loaded with a family’s luggage, enough for their 2 week vacation, 3 boys from the ages of 8 to 14, and of course Mom and Dad. If you know this particular steed, you might know it was, in it’s time, considered a compact car. So just imagine this family of 5 and their “stuff” all packed in and ready to drive half way across America.
Map Quest puts this particular trip, on modern roads at just under 16 hours and a bit shy of 1,000 miles. How is this relevant? The trip was made in August and when looking at the painted steel and semi chrome dash it might be noticed there is no radio. Not even a hole for it. This car was made without a way to pump out your tunes. Even more frightening than that is the absence of any air conditioning controls, just the vent and heater functions. Looking at the steering wheel and the stem controls, it dawns on you there’s no cruise control either.
The father of this soon to be sweaty clan was a road warrior of sorts and he made the drive in record time. He drove straight through only stopping for gas and the all too frequent bathroom stops. Is it any wonder? If you can, imagine the trip with the boys, the wife and no radio, mp3 players, laptops, DVD player, a navigation system, cell phone(s) and the windows open most of the trip. For Heavens sake they navigated with a piece of multi-folded, brightly colored paper… Some say they called it a “Map”??? Go figure!
As good fortune would have it, they made it there and back safely. Without run-flat tires, a full compliment of airbags, Onstar and enough electronic gizmos to make the Starship Enterprise look old-fashioned, perhaps even antiquated! No blood needing attention in that somewhat cramped vinyl backseat. A bruised ego here and there, but no marks in evidence of that long trip.
So when you’re tooling up the freeway, and you use the remote to raise and lower the volume on your in-dash AM/FM/CD/MP3/DVD/Nav system. Talk on your BlueTooth equipped hands-free cell phone. Adjust the zone managed HVAC system in your fully updated, crumple zoned and SRS air bagged and safety belted tribute to modern engineering, please remember those brave souls that braved our nation’s highways in the not so removed past.
All these new technological devices have made our lives easier and seemingly less complicated. They help us to get from point A to point B in remarkable comfort with a level of style unheard of in the past. But they can also be a terrible distraction. Safety is a given in today’s automotive offerings. When taking that heavy footed drive in your dualed out classic, it might be a good thing to remember that even though you may have added many of these electronic anachronisms to your ride, it’s safety ratings remain rooted in the era it was forged in. If it hadn’t needed help in that respect, the manufacturers never would have gotten around to addressing those safety concerns.
Manufacturers are making the autos of today far and away more comfortable and safer than they ever have before. They have engineered our daily drivers to entertain passengers and drivers alike. But all it takes is an irresponsible driver that we have to share the roads with to ruin our day, our cars and our dreams of those sweaty vacations spent in the backseat of the unairconditioned Falcons of the world. Thank you Galveston!
Today’s final thought… Some studies claim texting while driving is worse than drinking and driving… Please… Don’t do either!!!
The one on the right makes it go!