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#22 The Steering Wheel Desk

Steering Wheel DeskAn American’s car is his castle.

And while that castle comes nicely equipped with leather seats, air-conditioning, a sound system and ample cup-holders, until now it has always lacked a critical feature: a table.

But thanks to the American innovative spirit, that problem has been solved.

Introducing the Steering Wheel Desk.

It is an easy-to-use desk that simply attaches to your steering wheel. According to its ads, it can be used as a table, reading or music stand as well! Never again will you need balance your Chinese take-out between your knees while fiddling with chopsticks with one hand and holding your drink in the other. Now you can enjoy the meals you eat behind the wheel from the comfort of a table, just like you would at home.

Judging by the overwhelmingly positive reviews on, Americans have been longing for something as useful as the Steering Wheel Desk for a long time.

You would have to be some sort of luddite not to recognize the immediate productivity gains that this steering wheel desk affords you. I spend about 4 hours a day in my car making sales calls and used to spend two hours a night doing that day’s paperwork. No Longer! By the time I arrive at the next target’s business, I’ve already completed my sales call site summary, product order form for the target I just visited, and a game or two of Free Cell. Sure, cell phones may be illegal behind the wheel here in Maryland; but the law dogs have yet to ban my right to work on my Notebook PC as I cruise around the I-95 corridor.

Although not everyone was quite so impressed.

Obviously the snake oil salesmen who designed this product don’t know much about computers or steering wheels. My first and most notable complaint is that you better be sure you’re driving on a straight road when you use it, because it is impossible to turn your steering wheel with this attachment. Maybe because my car is a foreign model, it doesn’t fit, but I honestly cannot even back out of my driveway with this thing on.

If you are lucky enough to have a car where this apparatus can fit safely on the steering wheel, I hope you have a satellite internet card, because there is no way you can pick up wifi in a moving vehicle.

God Bless America!

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

#3. Cup Holders

The war on driving

Multi-Tasking and DrivingAn American’s car is his castle, and that castle is under siege.

The assault on American motoring practices began last Saturday when The New York Times published its lede story on the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone.  The Times continued the theme Monday, citing recently released study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that claimed drivers distracted by their cell phones caused 955 fatalities in 2002—still far short of the 100,000 people killed by doctors every year—but still nothing to sneeze at. Pointedly, the study concluded that there was little to no safety improvement between drivers talking with a handset and those using a hands-free device.

This set off  another round of calls to ban the use of cell phones while driving. Most of these people, mind you, don’t want to simply ensure both hands are on the wheel by requiring hands-free sets, they want to ban talking on the phone all together.

But as this blog has pointed out before, an American’s car is not only a machine designed to get from point A to point B, but also a personal sanctuary for eating, drinking, enjoying top-notch entertainment systems and yes, talking on cell phones. In short, an American’s car is his home away from home. And if we are going to start regulating when people can and cannot talk in their cars, we better have a good reason to do it.

But we don’t have a good reason to do it.

Whether it is closing a business deal, arranging to meet someone, reporting a drunk driver or simply ordering a pizza, the ability to talk on the phone while driving is a huge benefit to society as a whole. And despite the rapid proliferation of cell phones—and more distracting smart phones—over the past few years, America’s roads today are the safest they have been in decades.

Is talking on a cell phone while driving dangerous? Sure. But so is fiddling with the climate controls, listening to the radio or driving faster than 10 MPH. We could almost eliminate road fatalities entirely—saving 40,000 lives a year— if we simply prohibited the production of cars that could travel at speeds greater than a brisk walk. But that would not be reasonable.

Neither is banning cell phones while driving.

It is time to lift the siege on American drivers and go back to the good old days of last week, when we were all free to do as we pleased in our cars.

Previous topics mentioned in this post:

#2. Drive-Thrus

#3. Cup Holders

#9. Automatic Transmissions

#16. Cheap gas

#9. Automatic transmissions


Picture this scenario:

You’re driving through the British countryside looking for the B&B you’ll be staying that night. Like the typical American, you’ve got your map in one hand, a large coffee in another and you’re steering with your knees. Then suddenly, you see the street you’re looking for, but it is coming up fast. You slam on the breaks, and BAMN! The car stalls out because you didn’t have a hand free to downshift with.

Now you’ve damaged your car, spilled coffee all over yourself and stalled out in the middle of the road, all because it is very hard to find an automatic transmission car in Europe.

In America, such a thing would never happen because we invented something called automatic transmission technology.

It is a simple concept really. There is a machine in the car that automatically shifts between the gears, so the driver doesn’t have to. That way the driver is free to concentrate on other, more important things, like talking on the phone, eating dinner, reading a map or watching an in-car TV.

So next time you’re eating chinese carryout, drinking a coffee and talking on your cell phone while cruzing downt the highway at 75 MPH, put your drink down in your cup-holder, and take a minute to think about wheather or not you could pull this kind of driving off in Europe.

God Bless America!

#3. Cup Holders

Toyota Auris 2007

Originally uploaded by Titanas

An American’s car is his castle.

And since it is his castle, a true American motorist will not confine his time behind the wheel to simply driving form point A to point B.

A true America will engage in a wide range of activities while driving that snotty Europeans frown on, such as:

  • Talking on the cell-phone
  • Texting
  • Playing with the radio
  • Watching an in-car television
  • Playing with a GPS device
  • Reading e-mails on a blackberry
  • Eating & Drinking (generally non-alcoholic beverages)

Which brings us to cup holders.

Although American ingenuity has developed numerous ‘car-ready’ meals, from time-to-time, even the most dexterous motorist finds himself unable to hold his meal and drink at the same time (of course, he is driving with his knees, so controlling the car is not an issue). This problem is particularly acute when trying to eat something while driving that requires two hands, such as carryout Chinese food with chopsticks.

But it is challenges like these that Americans are particularly adept at overcoming. Which is why Americans long ago invented the in-car cup holder!

Now, any true America has at least 4 cup-holders in his car, (2 in front, 2 in back) allowing him to easily juggle a two-handed meal and multiple beverages while driving.

God Bless America!


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