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We’re changing drivers at the Road Warrior blog.

After nearly three years of writing the column — and 29 years at The Press Democrat — I’m retiring on Monday and Linda Castrone, editor of The Press Democrat’s Towns section, will take over Tuesday. She’ll do an excellent job.

The column has grown tremendously since it debuted April 22, 2010, with more than 1,000 columns, a total of 3 million page views and more than 7,400 published comments from readers.

I owe a great deal of thanks to readers who have written in with suggestions for topics and questions and with thoughtful and insightful comments.

And I deeply appreciate local and state officials who regularly took the time to answer questions and provide information for the Road Warrior, especially Phil Frisbie Jr. of Caltrans, CHP Officer Jon Sloat, Christine Gentry of the Sonoma County courts, Sgt. Ken Savano of the Petaluma police, Sgt. Rich Celli of the Santa Rosa police, Chris Cochran of the state Office of Traffic Safety and Tom O’Kane and Rob Silva of the Sonoma County Department of Transportation and Public Works.

I leave with a few requests:

–If you have to use your cellphone while driving, at least go hands-free. Frequently the driver I encounter who’s having trouble maintaining speed or staying in his/her lane is holding a cellphone. And that’s just plain dangerous.

–Shorten carpool-lane hours. The current hours of 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6:30 p.m. on Highway 101 in Sonoma County often leave the carpool lane wide open and the other two lanes jammed. 7 to 8:30 and 3:30 to 6:30 make much more sense. Caltrans sets the hours but with input from local officials, and it’s time for local officials to step up.

–Give other drivers a break. For example, too many drivers just won’t make it easy for others to merge on to 101. This isn’t L.A., New York or Washington, D.C.

–Be nice to bicyclists; give them room when passing. And bicyclists, please stay alert for approaching drivers and move over.

–Don’t drink and drive. I have no sympathy for those arrested for drunken driving, and I support local police who go after these drivers, whether at checkpoints or roving patrols.

It’s been a great ride. Thanks.

Jim Fremgen

 

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