Make New Year’s road resolutions

Does it not seem as though every year our New Year’s resolutions are pretty much the same? I think it’s because we are not so good at keeping them and therefore often repeat the same ones, hoping that this will finally be the year that they stick.

As I sit here pondering my resolutions for 2010, I’m chuckling because I know many of these were the same for 2009. You might be going through the same thing. However, life is a little different for me now. I have a fiancé and he has definitely added a new and very rewarding dimension to my life and, believe it or not, also has a lot to do with the fresh spin on a few of the following automotive-related resolutions.

Aside from cigarettes and gambling, I don’t know if there is a more irresponsible way to throw money away than on meaningless parking tickets that can so easily be avoided with a little more attention and diligence. Those nasty $45-$50 pieces of paper on the windshield are truly a pain in the … wallet. Where I live in Los Angeles, we maximize property space, or maximize taxation, depending on your perspective. Many homes have garages that have been converted into guest houses. And thankfully because of lovely weather — little rain, that is to say — in Southern California, we can park our cars in the driveway and feel pretty good about it. Lately, however, we’ve been doing yard renovations and have needed to move the cars from the driveway to the street for lengthy periods. Because street parking is different on each side of the street, it has created what seems like a vicious game of musical cars, a game that we often lose: more parking tickets, thank you very much. I acknowledge that it’s a terrible waste of our hard-earned money, right up there with setting it on fire, and I absolutely refuse to let this continue in 2010. So, that’s New Year’s resolution No. 1.

Making my way around in snails-pace L.A. traffic to gas stations that are always jammed with cars is one auto-related task that I detest. Making it worse is that I wait until the last possible second to fill up. This has meant cutting it way too close too many times while trying to get to meetings. Recently, while heading to a meeting with a friend in my fiancé’s car, we actually ran out of gas during rush hour. Nice. As luck would have it, a close-by friend came to the rescue. But running out of fuel is a pretty bone-headed move and can lead to huge trouble depending on the time and place it happens. So, in 2010, I will fill the tank before it falls below the quarter mark and I will use all my charm to get my fiancé, Ilya, to do the same. Good luck here.

There has been a law in California that we cannot hold a cell phone to talk while driving, but hands-free speakerphone is permitted. Friends have been ticketed for talking while driving in West Hollywood, and one afternoon, a police officer asked me to kindly get off my phone while driving unless I wanted a citation. “Bye-bye.”

In a weak moment, I actually forgot about the law. So, no texting while driving — whether sending or reading — and I will also make sure that in 2010 I only use speaker phone while driving.

Ilya shows his appreciation for our convertible Thunderbird by putting the top down on every occasion except in the pouring rain. I love that. Why own a convertible if you don’t take advantage of it, right? He’s always cruising along wearing a cool pair of shades, listening to some great tunes and enjoying the L.A. weather. In 2010 I vow to put the top down on my rides as often as possible, which goes along with simply enjoying life more.

OK, I have saved my least-endearing habit and the most important resolution for last. I am without a doubt California’s worst backseat driver (possibly the nation’s). I know it, and I am not proud of it. It’s like an illness or something. I simply cannot get control of it no matter how hard I try. I give a driver the benefit of the doubt, but upon his or her first scary screw up, I lose confidence in his or her ability and find it nearly impossible to shut my mouth. My friends laugh at it, and Ilya is driven crazy by it (clearly he needs improvement, yes?). But since I apparently have no control over my own mouth, in 2010 I hope that the less-than-stellar drivers in my life will resolve to get better so I won’t have to say a word … OK, OK and I will work to chill out, have more trust and enjoy the ride from the passenger seat.

Those are my New Year’s resolutions for what is hopefully an exciting 365 days ahead. I have not set the bar unrealistically high — except maybe that last point — so I hope these will be attained this coming year and make room for a fresh list of automotive resolutions in 2011, but we’ll see. I would love to hear your vows for 2010, so drop me a note with them. Happy new year!

Among her numerous accomplishments, Courtney Hansen is the author of the “Garage Girl’s Guide,” the host of Spike TV’s “PowerBlock,” the former host of TLC’s “Overhaulin'” and a writer with Wheelbase Communications. You can e-mail her by logging on to www.wheelbase.ws/mailbag.html.

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