THE GRIDLOCKSMITH, traffic safety activist, "Roads Scholar," former "Road Warrior" who lost a brother (aged,15) on the road in 1969, has compiled many observations and ideas about traffic safety after 3 decades of driving for a living. "Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution? Set a safe example in traffic." You, too, can be a gridlocksmith. "Road-Peace is a step toward World Peace." - Earl Shoop

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Location: Silver Spring, MARYLAND, United States

Looking for what's logical, efficient, kind and fun... Traffic safety became a personal issue when my youngest brother died on the highway. I observed traffic unsafety while driving for a living(30yrs). Spread the word about "Road-Peace" as a step on the road to World Peace. Since those wise and gentle enough to create World Peace will not treat each other as we now do, in traffic, the road is a good place to focus our efforts. see

Friday, July 31, 2009



OK, I know, traffic safety is serious stuff; it's true. But, a somber demeanor can lead to depression, and where does that get anyone? As a wise mentor used to say, "If it isn't fun, it isn't being done right."

He was asserting that when we are having fun, we are more relaxed. This means that we think better, more clearly and creatively. Creative thinking combined with clarity? Sounds like good things just have to happen.

Laughter is a surefire sign of fun, but it has a greater significance. When we laugh, we let go of our embarrassment, and, we sometimes present some of our wildest, most creative ideas. Exposing ourselves to possible ridicule takes courage, and laughter discharges fear, thus, helping us to overcome our fears.

It helps, when in a brainstorming group, to have an agreement not to ridicule, but, rather, try to outdo each other with even wilder ideas.(The morale boost and comeraderie are added benefits.) The craziest idea is not likely to be your ultimate plan or objective, tactic or strategy, but may spark some worthy ideas that the group will want to pursue.

Speaking of "Think Tanks," here is one that may interest you. (assuming you have a strong interest in traffic safety... and, if not, why would you be here?)


People of humor are always in some degree people of genius.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
1772-1834, British Poet/Critic/Philosopher

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Monday, July 27, 2009


Not one, but two, head on collisions on the same N.Y. highway...

on the same day!

(Of course, condolences go out to those who lost loved ones.)

Generally, this happens when stretches of the road are not divided.

When the driver approaches a divided section, it seems that signs

that scream out, "WRONG WAY" are not always enough to get the

driver to do the right thing. Whether the driver is sleepy, drunk,

distracted, dyslexic or anti-authoritarian, it seems that something

more needs to be done to protect our lives.


Strategically placed "rumble strips" could alert the wrong-way

driver that something is amiss.

Drivers who are headed the proper direction may also benefit,

as they will be reminded to reduce speed.


The question is not what you look at but what you see.
- Henry David Thoreau

Serious about traffic safety? Check out the "think tank."

Saturday, July 25, 2009


It is like a war on our highways, sometimes. "Road Warriors" are everywhere, and "Road Rage" seems all too common.

Recently, I have been thinking about war and peace and casualties that are weekly named and numbered. Remember the fanfare when dead U.S. troops reached 3,000?

Why does the press not show similar interest in the casualty count on our roads? The death toll on U.S. roads has hovered at over 40,000 annually for the last 20 years!

Is it not time that we start a new "PEACE MOVEMENT" to bring attention to the blood being spilled on our highways?

It is not an entirely different issue, as I am sure some will claim. The issue has to do with attitudes toward other people. Do we truly respect one another? Do we have kindness in our hearts? Can we see that "What goes around, comes around?" If we drive without regard for the safety of others, we will someday find, "Our chickens have come home to roost."

If you wish to see peace on our roads, the most important thing you can do, I believe, is to set a safe example. If you are committed to doing that, and want to contribute your ideas to help further the cause, may I suggest that we have an online "Think Tank" where we can share our best ideas.

Here it is.


Your work is to discover your work
and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

All our dreams can come true,
if we have the courage to pursue them.
- Walt Disney

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

School Bus Seat Belts?

Recently, I read about an accident involving a school bus that plummeted off an overpass, killing a number of students.

The issue of seat belts was raised, with cost being cited as the main objection. I am sure many parents are concerned that the rowdies will use the belts as weapons against others. Such misbehavior is in the realm of certainty, while life-threatening accidents are relatively rare.

The issue is not likely to be resolved any time soon. Meanwhile, a reminder to drivers (and others) could be posted on the buses:

"Please act kindly. We have no seat belts!"

Here is an article about new seat belt designs at Ford. I wonder if they are working on something for bus riders.


All things at first appear difficult. - Chinese Proverb

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Monday, July 20, 2009


(photo by Laureen Summers)

Imagine a world with no wars, no animosity between humans; it is a world where all people see that everyone is well thought about and cared for. (It is our mission in life in this nirvana-world.) All people care about you, and you care about them.

In such a world could there be such a thing as "road rage?" Of course not. ...well, maybe a little... we will probably still have emotions.

How long will it take to evolve into such beings?

It better not take very long. We are facing a time when some people will not only have the desire to wipe out "intelligent life" on our planet, but the technology to do so.

Many people have, over the centuries, cried out for peace. Attempts have been made to create peaceful, civilized societies. A war was deemed to be the last... "the war to end all wars."

A world at peace cannot simply be wished into existence. War cannot be simply wished away.

A tremendous change in attitude will be required if we are to move toward true peace.

Would a world in which all drivers treated each other with kindness be a step in the right direction? Imagine such a thing!

What would you be willing to do to bring us a step closer to world peace?

Forgive those who don't "measure up?" (including yourself)

Stubbornly persist in setting a safe example?

Drive kindly?


Change your thoughts and you change your world.
- Norman Vincent Peale

The distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult.
- Du Deffand

To view another outstanding photo by Laureen, see the website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


[After writing the following, I recalled writing about this in a
previous post. You may wish to compare. How do they hold up?]

There has been some discussion regarding when it is best to merge when a lane is ending for roadwork (or whatever).

Inevitably, a sign advises drivers that a lane will end a fair distance before it actually ends. It generally gives no instruction as to what drivers ought to do before that point. (?)

Some are of the opinion that it means to get into the thru lane, n-o-w. Acting on that assumption, those who move over immediately create a disparity in volume of traffic between the two lanes. They create one lane bogged down in creeping, b-to-b traffic, and another lane that is left with plenty of room-to-zoom.

I have, at times, come over a hill (or around a curve) to be greeted by such a scene. What to do? Hmmm...

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does traffic. The vacuum will suck traffic along, passing the displeased, disturbed, and disgusted drivers in the creepy lane. Can't be helped. Law of nature.

Just as naturally, when the point is reached that civilized merging ought to occur, we have drivers who are steamed and feeling dissed; they have no desire to allow someone to merge in front of them. It is an understandable desire to get even. It is just as understandable that the other drivers expect a civilized alternate merge.

Do we really need this kind of aggravation?

It is so easy to avoid.

Since there is no reason to let perfectly good pavement go to waste, let the drivers maintain both lanes up to the merge point. No vacuum will be created. No one must feel slighted or disrespected. We all travel at about the same speed. Instead of seeing cars zoom by, we see fellow humans alongside. We accept that we are all in this, together, and there is no reason for discourtesy.

All that is needed is a sign that this is what is expected of us.

We're in the same boat;
So follow what's wrote.
All on the same page,
Not needing the rage.
Doesn't that get your vote?



I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand.
- Chinese Proverb


Feel free to visit the GRIDLOCKSMITH website.
Still under construction, but hard hats are not needed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


It has been forty years since the death of my youngest brother. He was on a camping/bicycling adventure from Sioux Falls, S.D. to the Twin Cities, where another brother still lives.

(That other brother, Mike Shoop, is a well known nature photographer, who recently electrified a Corvette. You may see his photos here.)

Ricky did not make it to his destination. The only witness was the truck driver, who had the misfortune of having to live with what happened for the rest of his life.

Why should we drive (bike, walk) safely? Not only to preserve our own lives, but so we don't have to live with such a thing on the conscience.

My poem for Ricky is in the sidebar, but I present it below in a tidier version for easier reading.

Remembering Ricky

On a lonely highway,
Early one morn,
From a young bicyclist,
His life was torn.

It was the Spring
Of sixty-nine,
And that young boy
Was a brother of mine.

As I was feeling
My terrible loss,
The way others drove
Made me feel cross.

I counseled away
My rage and tears,
Observed, while driving,
For many years.

To help make things better,
That is my plan.
As the gridlocksmith
Perhaps, I can.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Florida's worst drivers to retake driving test

According to this story from The Miami Herald, " Florida will soon start sending some of the state's worst drivers back to school." The new law becomes effective at the start of 2010, and could have a major impact on how seriously drivers take their responsibility for public safety.

Since it takes three crash related tickets in three years to send a driver "back to school," don't expect to see anyone do so until 2013. Still, it gives folks something to think about.

(Takoma Park,Md.)

Advances and backward glances in the transportation field include:

An alternative look at pedal power...

and, possibly pointing the way toward
a renewed interest in methane power...?

and finally, a reminder that
"not building 'em like they used to" can be a good thing...

I am a big fan of The Darwin Awards ... they make me laugh.
(Best wishes to head honcho, Wendy Northcutt,
for a speedy recovery of her broken leg.
Happily, she has a healthy sense of humor.)