Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Vehicle Property Tax

Dear Daytonian,

Fortunately Ohio is one of 23 states, and the District of Columbia, that does not have a yearly tax on each car you own.  No one likes paying taxes, but this type of tax is not just about the money, it's about saving some each month, taking the time to write and mail a check (or the online equivalent) and dealing with the inevitable government screw-ups.  As detailed at this link below, the top ten states that levy a vehicle tax start at an average of $413 per year and top out, in Rhode Island, at an average of $1,333.  I paid less than that for the first car I bought.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Vehicle Safety Inspections

Dear Daytonian,

Do you remember the days when we either had to take off work or wait in long Saturday lines to get our cars "smog tested" for $19.50?  Fortunately that went by the wayside around here, but it's still going strong in other parts of the country where air quality problems continue.

But did you know that fifteen other states have periodic safety inspections?  In Pennsylvania, your suspension, steering, tires/wheels, brakes, electrical and lighting systems, defrosters, windshield wipers, speedometer, odometer,  horns, fuel system, chassis and mirrors are checked for proper operation every year.  How do drivers in the other thirty-five states get by, without the government holding their hands?  Just fine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Highway Ramp Metering

Dear Daytonian,

Here's another sign you won't see around here.  It's purpose is simple, it signals drivers when it's their turn to enter the highway.  The sign cycles slower as highway traffic gets heavier and more quickly when the coast is clear.  As the sign below says, only one car is allowed to enter at a time and this helps the merging process be more effective.

Of course, only highways with ridiculous volumes of traffic, typically around the morning and evening rush hours, need this type of assistance.  So if in your travels you encounter a ramp meter at the wrong time of day, calm down and enjoy the view.  You're not going anywhere very fast.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Where Are The Street Lights

Dear Daytonian,

We're used to our traffic lights being suspended over the road directly in front of us, like the one pictured below, but that's not a universal rule in other parts of our country.  My first encounter with a different location, which fortunately ended without injury, was in my youth going through some forgotten town in Kansas.  I never saw the traffic light, mounted on a pole where we would find pedestrian crosswalk signs, and sailed through that intersection when the other direction had the green.  My friends told me what I had just done, and my nerves joined theirs in being totally shaken up.  But I never again assumed traffic lights would always be in the most logical location.

But did you notice in the picture below that this green light was on the top?  This unique sign is in Syracuse, New York at the corner of Tompkins Street and Milton Avenue, and legion has it that stone-throwing Irish youth back in the 1920s couldn't stand for British red sitting on top of their Irish green, and broke the lights over and over until the city council relented and reversed the light sequence.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

State Gas Taxes

Dear Daytonian,

If you're budgeting for your first long distance driving vacation, be aware that gas prices vary wildly, and a part of that is explained by each state's appetite for revenue.

It might come as a surprise, but our eastern neighbor, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, has the highest state gas tax, clocking in at 58.7 cents per gallon, compared to our own 28.01 cents, which puts Ohio in 29th place.  After PA comes California (no surprise), Washington, Hawaii and New York.  Of our directly bordering states, only Kentucky is less than ours, and only by 2 cents a gallon.

The picture on the left below is from the last Speedway in Ohio on I-70 going eastbound (exit 186), where I always fill up before going into Pittsburgh, so I can avoid their sticker shock shown on the right picture, and save $10 on a fill up.  Not all of this is due to the state tax differential, but at least 30 cents is.  Check out the link below to see all 50 state's tax on gas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Bug Spraying

Dear Daytonian,

One benefit of our four weather seasons, and particularly some of our really cold winter nights, is the relative lack of bugs.  Sure, we're swatting at flies and lighting citronella candles at the worst of times, or being a kid again and chasing lightning bugs around the yard.  But compared to some "nice to live" areas like parts of the southeast and southwest United States, we get off pretty easy.  When you have regularly scheduled aerial bug bomb attacks to keep the hoards somewhat under control, like detailed for San Diego at the link below, you can just imagine how much worse these areas can be.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Snow Poles

Dear Daytonian,

The first time I saw the snow poles shown below, I was on a state route in the state of Maine and had to ask what they were.  A Mainer explained they marked the sides of the road so snowplow drivers knew where to plow.  Then one time in Green Bay, Wisconsin I remarked how well-shoveled people kept their driveways, and a local had to explain that if they doddled, the snow would quickly pile up and shoveling would then become a real chore.  In both cases, that's way more snow than I care to deal with.

Perhaps you lived through the Dayton "Blizzard of 1978" and its three feet of snowfall and much higher drifts, but most winters we get much less than that all winter, usually in under 4-inch increments, making snow poles non-existent and shoveling driveways optional.  Snow is beautiful, but I'll take mine in our smaller quantities.

Vehicle Property Tax

Dear Daytonian, Fortunately Ohio is one of 23 states, and the District of Columbia, that does not have a yearly tax on each car you own.  ...