Q A few months ago I had a harrowing experience with a texting idiot. I was driving south on Interstate 280 on a Saturday morning at a good clip, as I was running late for the start of my son's basketball game. Just after Alpine Road, I was in the No. 1 lane, and I saw a small SUV coming up behind me at a much faster pace.
Not wishing to be a road boulder, I -- yes -- put on my blinker and started to get out of the way. I looked up and saw the SUV straddling the No. 1 and 2 lanes, as if he were going around me, so I stayed in the fast lane. At that point, I saw that he was still straddling the lanes.
Then I could clearly see the reason. SUV Man was looking down and texting, and he had no idea what was going on. At this point, we were on the big downhill towards Page Mill Road, and SUV Man was gaining fast. I decided that I might not be able to cross in front of him, especially if he drifted further right, so I figured the only thing I could do was outrun him until he finally looked up.
I downshifted and whipped all 330 horses under my hood. I was over 85 mph in a moment. SUV Man was still looking down and now clearly too close to pull in front. At 95 mph he was still closing and still oblivious, just a few yards from me.
At a little over 100 mph, I began to get to his pace.
A Going 100-mph-plus to avoid a texting driver! This is beyond frightening.
Q A good Samaritan saw what was happening and, bless her, she roared up near SUV Man and began to blare her horn. Nothing.
At 107 mph, I finally was creating distance, and safely pulled over to the far right, letting this idiot pass. I gave a salute of thanks to the good Samaritan for trying to help; she pointed at SUV Man with a finger other than her index.
SUV Man never looked up. If my math is right, this guy was covering about a football field every couple of seconds. I'm with the reader who said $1,000 should be the minimum fine for texting while driving.
A This doesn't happen to me often, but I am speechless. I'll continue to print one cellphone horror story a day throughout the April crackdown, but this one may be hard to top.
Q I am impressed by the mileage and environmental aspects of the Prius. But before I become one of the flock when I move back to California in June, I would like to find some real-world information about one area. Can your readers tell me whether they have gotten better than the 150,000 expected battery miles and what replacement batteries actually cost?
A Prius electric batteries in California are under warranty for 10 years/150,000 miles, and new replacement batteries can run $2,000 to $4,000, while a used battery will cost around $1,000. I'm curious what response your question will generate.
Q I would be grateful if you could bring this to Caltrans' attention. One recent night I drove home from Pleasanton to Pacifica. It's been a while since I've made that trip at night.
There are a few large, brightly lit yellow signs along the way. I believe my first encounter was along Interstate 580 in Castro Valley and another one was along Highway 92 in the San Mateo hills. I appreciate the opportunity to read the alerts, but the bulbs, in my humble opinion, are set way too bright at night.
The glare prevented me from reading the message until I was passing under the signs. The brightness setting may be just perfect for the day, but is there a way for the brightness to be toned down at night?
A The changeable message signs are designed to dim at night, but Caltrans will check these signs and adjust the brightness as necessary at these two locations and at a couple more -- at eastbound 580 in San Leandro and westbound 92 after the San Mateo Bridge toll plaza.