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From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 13:41:38 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

GBinNC wrote:

> >And while we're on safety, do people really cook while
> >traveling?
> NO. Nobody with even a modicum of sense, that is. Hazards abound.
> Spillage, fire, etc. Absolutely not. Anything could happen. A sudden
> stop = grease over the side of the pan = fire.

And now the rest of the story from the "senseless" side.  A wide
variety of cooking is practical in a moving motorhome.  We routinely
cook in the Crockpot with it sitting in the sink and plugged into
the inverter.  A bungee cord wrapped under the pot and hooked to the
lid knob keeps the lid on and suppresses rattles.  Anything that
doesn't have a lot of free liquid can be safely cooked in the oven. 
Ditto on the stovetop.  Grilled cheese sandwiches for example.  Then
there is the microwave.  All sorts of possibilities abound.  Even
liquid food can be heated if some basic steps are taken to keep the
lid on and the liquid contained.  Tuppeware works well if the
microwave can be operated on reduced power so the top doesn't
prematurely blow off.  For corningware and the like, to hold the lid
on, we use those nifty little velcro straps sold in the hardware
store to hold bundles of cord or hose together.  This has the added
benefit of keeping the lid from driving you crazy rattling against
the pot.

> >Do people get up and walk around, like
> >on an airplane
> Comparison to an airplane here is not appropriate. Airplanes generally
> fly in a straight, smooth path for long periods of time. In addition,
> they stay great distances away from each other so that sudden moves
> are unnecessary. This is VERY different from driving on an undulating
> highway surface, surrounded closely by other vehicles whose drivers in
> many cases do not have a clue as to how their actions affect others on
> the road.

Actually an airplane is an exact analogy.  In both vehicles,
assuming a driver with a modicum of sense, the ride is very smooth
until something out of the blue disturbs it.  In the RV that might
be a pothole or a bozo driver cutting you off (see below). In the
plane it is turbulence.  We treat the RV exactly like we would a
plane - move around freely but stay buckled in when not moving

> People riding in motorhomes should remain seated and buckled in. Some
> folks, I'm sure, don't, but the problem is that things happen so fast
> at highway speeds that there's usually no time for the driver even to
> yell out a warning before a collision, or even a panic stop. Anybody
> who's loose and standing up at the time instantly becomes a heavy
> projectile and will likely be VERY seriously injured, at the very
> least.

I've just been shaking my head at this thread with people whining
about the lack of passive "safety" (sic) features in motorhomes
while discounting the inherent safety of high mass and long crush
zones, all the while, accepting (consciously or unconsciously) the
apparent inevitability of an accident.

I prefer the more direct approach to driving safety - taking an
active role in protecting myself and my motorhome.  I simply do not
allow dangerous situations to develop.  One CAN keep people out of
the blind spot and off the front bumper with just a bit of
situational awareness.  One CAN read what the driver in the next
lane is going to do and anticipate getting cut off.  In the 30 years
of driving everything from big rigs to RVs, with two exceptions,
I've never had to make a panic stop or take excessive evasive
maneuvers.  There is a reason for that and it is not just luck.  I
suspect that most "panic stops" are immediately preceded by a
display of testosterone. 

I suggest that anyone who drives whiteknuckled, just waiting for
something to happen should take a good offensive driving course.  I
have enjoyed the benefit of just such a course that my parents sent
me to when I got my license.  I think they've PC'd the name these
days to something like active accident avoidance courses but the
course is the same - actively taking control of your situation to
head off accidents, coupled with high speed driving skills to avoid
or mitigate the accident if all else fails.

A point that has not been made that answers the original question is
that the motorhome is inherently much safer in an accident because
of its weight and its large crush zone and energy absorbing
structures.  These are the same factors that almost invariably let a
truck driver walk away from a collision with a car or light truck. 
I'd have no problem at all strapping down a baby seat on a dinette
seat using the supplied seatbelts, giving due consideration of what
might fall from above.  Remember too, that in the rear seats there
are no exploding steering wheels or dashboards to worry about, as
there would be in a pickup.

From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 04:08:47 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

sbourg wrote:

> John, I have been rear-ended by a fast moving vehicle while I sat at a
> red light for at least 30 seconds before the incident. 

I've been a witness to such a collision.  I was a witness because I
saw the bozo coming and squirted over on the shoulder and let the
guy in front take the hit. (and no, I don't want to hear how I
should have done otherwise.)  Situational awareness.  

>I have seen a VW
> sitting in a line of stopped traffic on the freeway rear ended by a
> semi going at least 50 mph at the point of collision. There are maniacs
> out there who could care less if they hit you - some even WANT to! The
> merest idea that you can safely control the traffic situation in your
> environment is disconnected with reality. Your careful driving may have
> kept you out of trouble so far - but only by improving your odds. Lady
> luck has been your passenger.

Well, since everything we do involves playing the odds, I can live
with a lack of absolute control.  But like the old saying, the
careful-er I am, the lucky-er I get.  Of course I may be on a bridge
when it collapses or I may be in the wrong place when some bozo
comes over the median but I can live with those odds.  OTOH, I WON'T
have a rear-end because I could not stop fast enough and I won't
pull over into some bozo sitting in my blind spot, etc., because I
pay attention.  

Owning a restaurant gives one the opportunity to observe a wide
variety of people as they come through.  Some people seem to get all
the breaks while others are walking disasters. I had one cook who at
the age of 35 had broken his neck 3 times in separate car wrecks! 
When one gets to know these walking train wrecks, one can observe
the personal flaws that leads to the disasters.  I believe one can
determine his destiny to the extent that the risk form
uncontrollable hazards is vanishingly small.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 04:41:24 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

GBinNC wrote:
> On Tue, 11 Jan 2000 13:42:02 -0500, Neon John
> <> wrote:

> >And now the rest of the story from the "senseless" side.  A wide
> >variety of cooking is practical in a moving motorhome.
> ><snipped for brevity>
> John,
> I acknowledge your extremely broad scope of knowledge <g> on matters
> RV and other, but simply put, on this topic I think you're absolutely
> off the deep end.

Off the deep end?  C'mone, GB.  I was probably off the deep end when
I tried bungee jumping (once really is enough!) but cooking while
driving?  I think not.  Must be the internet effect that causes such
polarizing language.

> Why anyone would willingly expose passengers in a vehicle to the
> completely unnecessary hazards imparted by cooking food while driving
> down the highway is utterly beyond my scope of comprehension. (Well,
> microwave popcorn, maybe, but a crock pot? Liquids in a microwave or
> oven? My God!)

Risk is relative, I suppose.  I considered it risky when I had to
crawl out of an upside down car with racing fuel soaking my
clothes.  Was also risky when I slid under the bridge and down the
hill on my butt at Road Atlanta after stepping off my roadracing
motorcycle at 100+ mph. When my hillclimbing bike tossed me off
about halfway up the Widowmaker Jr. hillclimb at White Oak Mountain
and I fell about 100 feet straight down, yeah, that was probably
over the edge. And some would probably think it was risky to stand
on the refueling deck of Three Mile Island nuclear plant and peer
down at the melted reactor core.  I've worked with some of the most
dangerous stuff known to man.  Radioactive sources emitting
radiation sufficiently intense to cause electrical discharges in the
surrounding air and to turn clear glass black in minutes.  VX nerve
gas (developing a method of destroying it using radiation.)  I've
worked with just barely subcritical masses of plutonium.  In high
school I caught and sold rattlesnakes for spending money.  Relative
to that, frankly, a pound of pot roast bubbling away in a crock pot
buried in the bowels of my motorhome bothers me not one whit.  I
consider the risk to be so vanishingly small as to approach zero. 
(photos of some of this stuff on my web page.)

I don't have any problem with your finding the pot roast peril to be
excessive - the perception of risk is an intensely personal affair. 
I do have a problem with promoting what I consider to be a
hypersensitivity to risk to a newbie as the norm.  Actually, I'd not
even care too much about that until I'm called off the deep end for
presenting the alternative view.

> I am the most safety-conscious, careful, aware, alert driver I know of
> (I am almost ALWAYS asked by others to drive whatever vehicle I'm
> riding in because of my long-standing and well-known reputation on
> this), and yet I cannot possibly control road conditions and what
> others around me are doing to the extent that I can assure complete
> safety to myself and my passengers. There are just too many unknowns
> and variables. One minor collision -- or even a hard panic stop --
> when hot food goes flying and you'll be singing a different tune.

Only if I can't catch the pot roast before the Bob the cat gets it!

> BTW, I do not drive "white-knuckled" and "waiting for something to
> happen." I LOVE to drive -- anything, any time, anywhere. Driving is
> one of the most relaxing things I do -- partly because I am so good at
> it.
> As someone else said, you have been extremely lucky. For your sake, I
> sincerely hope it continues...

Of course I've been lucky.  But I know that I can make a large
component of my luck go my way.  And if I'm successful for another
20 or 30 years, then I'll have been REALLY lucky person.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 04:59:16 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Scott Leahy wrote:

> Man, if you slam on the brakes right, nobody's gotta even set the
> table. It'll be instant potluck! If I ever ride with you, I'm bringin'
> a crash helmet and a spoon.

Yer on!

> And what's this bit about always putting (sic), literally, "as
> written", after "safety feature"?  Do you find the phrase "safety
> feature" ungrammatical? Or do you think there is no such thing as a
> vehicle enhancement to improve occupant survivability?

Oh, of course I do.  Helmets, roll cages, 5 point harnesses,
automatic fire suppression systems, fire suits, etc.  Of course most
people are not going to do any of that for the street.  It's just
that I don't regard exploding steering wheels and dashboards and
motorized gossamer thin seatbelts and such to fall into the category
of safety features. 

> I agree you can greatly improve your odds by not driving like an idiot
> and by imagining that everyone else is. The philosophy is totally
> sound. I learned to do it riding motorcycles. The need for sudden
> stops still exists however, and some of those stops will not require
> testosterone's assistance. They must be planned for, however
> imperfectly.

yep, I drive like I ride a motorcycle - like I have a target painted
on my chest.  You misunderstood my testosterone remark.  I was
referring to getting ones' self into trouble while trying to prove
to another driver whose is bigger.

> We differ in one regard perhaps: I can imagine a set of circumstances
> that could bring me into collision despite my good efforts.

Oh, I can too.  I just assign a very small probability to most of

> As well as you plan for mechanical catastrophes, (spare alternators
> pointedly included) I have a hard time reconciling such superlative
> preparedness with a griddle full of cheese sandwiches and a crock-pot
> loaded with hot dumplings busting one of your passengers in the head.

The crock pot fits pretty much all the way down in the sink so it
would take a lot to get it out.  Now consider what might happen in
an accident severe enough to dislodge the crockpot.  For sure the
overhead cabinets would come down - they're held up with perhaps 6
or 8 sheetmetal screws screwed into the aluminum skin.  The
refrigerator would become a battering ram as it tears out of its
veneer mounting box.  I'm sure my spare parts kit would make like
(large) shotgun pellets.  The convertible bed bases would slice
through the place like plywood hatchets.  In other words, in a bad
wreck, we're at high risk of being toast ourselves.  Given that we
accept the risk by going places in the MH, I submit that the
additional risk from a pirouetting pot roast or sailing griddle is
very small.

> Of course, I have no room to talk, since anybody up walking around in
> my motorhome at impact is God's projectile, but you gotta strike a
> balance somewhere. I'd bag the crock-pot, but have to admit that I
> haven't tasted what's in your's at the crash scene, and suspect there
> are delicacies that could be worth the risk.

Well my rosemary, garlic, celery seed potroast is to kill for. 
ohhh, that was baaaaad :-)


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 19:03:38 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Janet Wilder wrote:
> In article <>, dtblank3&&
> writes:
> >Anyone know where I can enroll in an "offensive driving
> >course"? Near as I can figure, most drivers in southern
> >California are summa cum laude graduates.
> New York City.

Nah.  NYC drivers are simply a**holes.  Little skill involved.  My
vote goes to Boston.  One trip down Veteran's parkway at 75 mph with
cars no more than an inch away on 3 sides and trees so close that
they shake the car as they pass illustrates that.  Several years ago
I spent several weeks driving in Boston in a rental car.  Had a ball
cuz I had the full boat CDW.  wouldn't dream of taking my own car


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Wed, 12 Jan 2000 19:18:44 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Mickey Lane wrote:
> Neon John <> wrote:
> >And now the rest of the story from the "senseless" side.  A wide
> >variety of cooking is practical in a moving motorhome.
> <Crockpot, cooking in the oven, liquid food, corningware & velcro straps, etc.>
> I'll pass on the merits and methods of cooking and focus on the reason.
> Why would you want to do this? Are you usually in that much of a hurry?
> Our meals while traveling usually fit into one of three categories: sandwich,
> fast food or all-you-can-eat buffet. This covers your basic "I could use a snack,"
> "Lunch!" and "I need FOOD. NOW!" situations. They all involve stopping the rig
> and getting out and walking around a while. As we tend to get up and going
> early, there's plenty of time at the end of the day to stop and fix the
> evening meal.

I'm almost never in a hurry.  I don't eat fast food.  Never, ever. 
I'd rather starve.  I avoid chains unless desperate.  I almost never
eat cold sandwiches and when I do, it is limited to a real deli sub
- no processed meat product "sandwich" for me.  The reason we cook
while in motion include:  Good food takes awhile to cook, especially
when cooking with fresh ingredients.  Back to my potroast, it
doesn't even get tender until about 10 hours of simmering.  You
think I'm going to stop and wait on that?  Nah. Neither of us likes
much in the way of "quick" snacks.  Only very occasionally will we
stoop to something like cheese and crackers, and then only after we
can stop for the night so the wine can come out too.  I love to
smell the food cooking.  I'm usually hungry when I stop and am
usually not in the mood to wait a couple of hours to cook from
scratch.  Aged USDA prime ribeyes cooked over a hickory fire (yep,
we carry the wood) being the major exception.  Sorry Mikey, but
eating is too much of a pleasure to us to waste a meal on junky
food. I'm trying not to sound like a gastro snob here but I love to
eat, I love fresh, first class food and I love to travel.  Cooking
in the MH makes that possible.

I'm really surprised at the reactions in this thread.  Among those I
frequently travel with, cooking on the fly is the norm.  Is everyone
so tightly wound here that they really don't enjoy the benefits of
cooking on the fly?   If so, man, I feel sorry for ya!


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 03:05:09 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Bill & Barbara Ruh wrote:
> >I've been a witness to such a collision.  I was a witness because I
> >saw the bozo coming and squirted over on the shoulder and let the
> >guy in front take the hit. (and no, I don't want to hear how I
> >should have done otherwise.)  Situational awareness.
> Incredible.  You need to stop in queue well behind the car in front (15'?) to
> get out of your lane.  Not a bad idea, but I can't recall seeing anyone do this.
> In Boston, leaving 5' is enough for someone wedge in.
> Peace,
> Bill Ruh

nah.  I was in my practically brand new Datsun 240Z sports car.  I
probably didn't need 6 feet.  I adopted a policy early on of
stopping back a little from the car in front of me.  That originated
after some bozo squished my mom's car in a rear-ender back when I
was a kid.  I figured that the post-accident aftermath would be
simpler to deal with if my car had a decent chance of not slamming
into the car in front.

I agree on Boston.  I'd not drive a vehicle I was responsible for in
Boston for love nor money!!!  I had a ball there in a rental car
with full boat CDW where I could drive by ear with wild abandon. 
Was very nonplusing in the beginning to have people tap me (or vice
versa later) NASCAR style and no one paid any attention.


From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: Child safety while traveling
Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2000 03:24:13 EST
Newsgroups: rec.outdoors.rv-travel

Scott Leahy wrote:

> Yeah, the airbags need work, I think. Those gossamer-thin belts do a
> pretty good job though. 

Saved my life with a head-on with a drunk (one of those two
exceptions I mentioned).  I was just flat lucky, though, that I had
Newton on my side.  Had the drunk been in a caddy instead of a
beetle, I'd have been typing this from down under :-(  As it was,
the shoulder belt was melted from the friction of the fibers rubbing
together under the load to where it was so stiff it would stand out
like a sword.  Though severe, the impact was not so bad as to
seriously distort the passenger capsule.  That certainly got me to
thinking.  The problem is we have a Catch-22.  I can either accept
the weak belt system custom designed to survive a single type of
wreck (the fed's crash testing) or I can go with heavier equipment
without any means of testing the validity of the design.  This is
what happens when the government meddles.

>I suppose it's a balance between effectiveness
> and practicality. It's kinda interesting how the fatalities have
> dropped over the years, most of which I attribute to the vast
> improvement in handling, braking, crashworthiness, and safety features
> of modern vehicles. In 66 there were 5.4 deaths per 100 million
> vehicle miles traveled. That number has dropped steadily to the
> current value of 1.7/100mVMT. We are doing something right.

Gordon Baxter and friends over at the National Motorist Association
(who you thank for the 70-75 mph speed limits in much of the
country) have debunked that propaganda promoted by DOT in a very
detailed study of death rate statistics.  The best correlation to
the declining death rate is the rate of modern freeway
construction.  Modern designs with large runoff areas, energy
absorbing structures (those yellow tubs, collapsing guard rails and
the like), etc figure much more prominently in the equation than car
improvements. The figures that indicated this are that the fatality
rate for drivers of OLD cars has dropped in sync with those of newer
cars.  I move back and forth between a BMW, a 280Z sportscar and my
favorite, a 68 Plymouth Fury.  The other cars handle better than the
Fury but only by a little.  Balancing that is the yards of crush
zone in this land yacht :-)  The rear bumper has a dent in it that
the previous owner told me was caused by a compact car totaling
itself in a rear-end.

> >Well my rosemary, garlic, celery seed potroast is to kill for.
> >ohhh, that was baaaaad :-)
> Shoot, I may just have to buy myself an inverter so I can try road
> roast for myself! I ought to be able to lash a crock-pot down a hell
> of a lot easier than most of my lard-ass pals!

:-)  I have a large inverter but I've found that the crockpot will
run just fine on an old el-cheapo 150 watt unit with lower total
power consumption.  Important for overnight crock cooking while dry


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