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How To Drive Into Accidents...and How Not To by Robert Pease

1998 (reissue ed.); 472 pp. $18.95. Pease Publishing.

Robert Pease looks like a madman and may be a genius. He carries his papers in a cardboard box. He laughs frequently; sometimes the proximate cause of his laughter is unclear. He shakes hands by way of expressing agreement. He raises his eyebrows to express astonishment and pulls little tufts of his hair straight up.

He has an Old Testament beard. He is an honored employee of National Semiconductor, for which he "invents circuits and designs ideas.'' They send him around the world. His conversation leaps from the cemeteries of Buenos Aires to the problems of home electrical wiring.

His expertise in the latter is unquestioned: he is the distinguished author of Trouble-shooting Analog Circuits (Butterworth-Heinemann, 1993), now in print nine years with 30,000 copies sold. In the old phrase: For the people who like that kind of thing, this is the kind of thing they'd like.

He's also the author of How to Drive Into Accidents. He sent me the book many months ago; I loved it. It is opinionated, repetitious, smart, provocative, loony, pedantic, and useful. It is probably the only automotive book with a cover blurb by Otto von Bismarck: "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.''

I asked Pease about his mistakes. "Oh my! Oh my! Chapter 16! I have driven into trees. I have driven into trucks. If people read my book, they will not be as stupid as me. That is my guarantee.'' He crosses his heart, literally. Then he claps his hands above his head.

It's like talking to Moses during his tenure as a yell leader.

The prose of How to Drive into Accidents has a definite home-hobbyist feel. It has illustrations by the author. It has anecdotes. It has many, many opinions, some more conventional than others. It's all about driving, not a heavily covered topic in literature outside DMV manuals.

I wanted to write about the book when I first got it, but it turned out that it was really not available anywhere. It was self-published and essentially undistributed, except for the free copies to press people.

I was the only press person who even responded; discouraging for the author. But...Pease holds up a copy of The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter (Para Publishing, 2000). "This is the book,'' he said, unaware of the duty of the author to hold up his own book when he says that. "Poynter knows more than everyone else put together.''

He got Baker and Taylor, a national distributor, to handle the book. He got support from the folks at Green Apple. He persuaded Amazon to list the book, an enviable coup. He is less impressed with the Books in Print people, who declined to list him, even though his book was clearly in print and for sale.

"I have sent them a strongly worded note. You have to wonder whom they are protecting." The way he says it, you do begin to wonder. The Trilateral Commission? The House of Hanover? The Mongolian Hegemony?

The full Pease experience is available at The book itself may even help you drive more safely, which is sort of the point. Unless the point is Pease himself, who flourishes in defiance of convention and has a swell time doing it.

"There are several roads in San Francisco that are fun to drive. Gough St. has synchronized lights, and it's fun to try to keep moving despite slow traffic. Some city "parkways" are kinky roads, quite challenging. One friend recommended Titus Street in San Diego, as it is essentially a paved cliff. "It was always a thrill to drive over the edge, given that you could see nothing below as you went over. Local authorities decided that teenagers were having too much fun there, so they put a Stop sign just before the edge. However, people continued to crash and burn rather often, so they finally added a telephone booth at the bottom of the hill, so local residents would not be required to call tow trucks or ambulances."

"It is not SPEED that kills, but SPEED DIFFERENCE. If most of the drivers are doing 63 mph on a 55 mph road, and one guy is poking along at 41, the wise policeman will not stop the guys at 63, but will stop the guy doing 41 and ask him why. He will try to get that slow driver out of there?put him on the Old Road, or demand that he get his engine fixed, if it will not go any faster, or lock him up if he is drunk. But the guy doing 41 is the real danger to safe driving, because other people are not expecting to have to pass such a slow driver. (If you ever drive a slow car, or a heavy truck, you know that there are some high-speed highways where you cannot pick up speed?such as on upgrades. If you ever have to drive slower than 45 mph on a high-speed road, turn on your 4-way flasher signals, so people will be cautioned that they will have to pass you).


ISBN: 0965564819

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