ROADS REPORT: Getting it all wrong

The county messed up my drivers license, the feds misspelled my road sign and my wife is driving me crazy

Blog Entry November 12, 2013

David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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What’s in a name?
When your last name is 36 letters long, you’re used to it being misspelled and mispronounced. But this summer the state of Hawaii told Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele that her name is too long to fit on a drivers license and that she might consider changing it.


For the past 20 years, Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s (pronounced KAY’-ee-hah-nah-EE’-coo-COW’-ah-KAH’-hee-HOO’-lee-heh-eh-KAH’-how-NAH-eh-leh) drivers licenses have only had room to include an incomplete spelling of her last name, with her first and middle names omitted entirely.


So whenever she traveled, Janice also carried a state ID card, which thanks to a special adjustment by the governor’s office, was able to fit her entire name.
That is until her ID card was up for renewal in May, and Janice’s new card arrived with the same incomplete spelling as her drivers license.


Janice decided to fight the issue after being pulled over this summer by an officer who gave her a hard time about not having her full name on her license. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, this is not my fault,’” she told the Associated Press. “‘This is the county’s fault that I don’t have an ID that has my name correctly.’”


What really irked her was when the officer suggested she use her maiden name. Janice took Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele as her last name when she married her husband in 1992. When he died in 2008, the name had been in the family for decades, and Janice felt that it would dishonor his memory and heritage to change it.


Eventually the Hawaii Department of Transportation agreed, stating that by the end of this year, it will redesign its ID cards to accommodate up to 40 characters for a first name and 40 for a last name.


It’s fitting that Janice will once again be able to proudly display her family name. After all, as she explained to the AP, one of Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s meanings is “when there is chaos and confusion, you are one that will stand up and get people to focus in one direction and come out of the chaos.”


Getting on my last nerve
According to a new study, the most irritating passenger to have in your car is the one you married.


Insurance.com surveyed 500 drivers and found that husbands and wives are the worst backseat drivers. Wives polled slightly more annoying than husbands, while mothers and friends came in a distant third and fourth. Surprisingly, children of all ages ranked fairly low, especially teens.


The survey showed that the biggest offense of backseat drivers was commenting on driving speed, followed by giving directions, talking too much and stomping on the time-honored “imaginary brake.”


Respondents also were able to write in pesky passenger behaviors not listed on the survey, which produced some interesting complaints like “screams about something I’m already aware of,” “gets carsick” and “makes faces and gestures.”


With behavior like that, more than a few drivers must have their own imaginary eject button.


Spelling the end of grammar
The city of Wichita, Kan., posted signs this summer warning motorists against crossing flooded streets. They read “When Flooded Turn Around Dont Drown.”
Great advice, but isn’t there some punctuation missing?


City officials say yes, but it’s no mistake. The signs include a run-on sentence and no apostrophe in the word “dont” in order to conform to the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).


“It is the standard for making traffic signs uniform throughout the country,” the city’s public works strategy manager told the Wichita Eagle. “According to the MUTCD, ‘Word messages should not contain periods, apostrophes, question marks, ampersands, or other punctuation or characters that are not letters, numerals, or hyphens unless necessary to avoid confusion.’”


So dont blame the city for the misspelled sign, and definitely dont ask why the “Dont” wasn’t simply switched to “Do Not.” The MUTCD says you’d just be too confused by the answer. R&B

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