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Published: Saturday, 5/19/2001

Check site to uncover speed traps

BY TOM GEARHART
BLADE FEATURES EDITOR

It's almost summer, which means hitting the open road on vacation. Gasoline prices being what they are, this year's trip is going to cost a bundle, so you don't want to pay any heavy fines for getting caught in a speed trap - which is where the Internet steps in to help.

For traveling motorists, Speedtrap.com is a godsend. It claims to tell site visitors about potential traffic slowdowns, traffic hazards, “and other information to help save them time during their commute,” with the further proviso that the Web site “does not in any way encourage users to speed or circumvent existing laws.”

The plain truth is, the site's purpose is to warn people about speed traps. Since 1995, motorists from all over the country have notified the site of danger spots - hidden radar surveillance and other notorious spots along the nation's roads where you could get stopped by law enforcement officers for putting too much pedal to the metal.

Visitors can search by state and city for reported speed traps, of which there are many thousands across the fruited plains. You can also click onto a search registry of police cars around the country to get invaluable information on what to look for by way of police surveillance. Enter “Ohio Highway Patrol” in the search box, for example, and you'll get a description of the various makes and markings of the cars and trucks patrolling the state's roads. The site also notes the areas where aircraft surveillance is heavily used, especially on the Ohio Turnpike.

Further information is provided on the effectiveness of radar detectors, and the site operators eventually plan to add maps showing where the speed traps are.

Are there traps in the Toledo area? Three have been reported to the site within the last year - one on West Central Avenue, east of Reynolds Road; a second on Heatherdowns Boulevard near Byrne Road, and a third on Westwood Avenue near the University of Toledo.

Finally, this site is nothing if not global. You can search for speed traps not only in the good old USA, but also in cities and countries around the world. For instance, if you're traveling in Wales, watch out for portions of A470 in Cardiff where the constables are just waiting to nab speeders. Then there's Germany: The trap to watch out for there is located near “Marktoberdorferstrasse, bei Unterfuhrung bei OBI,” in the Bavarian city of Schongau. Don't say we didn't warn you.

http://www.speedtrap.com

Free music from Wal-Mart

Among the many advantages of the Internet is the ability of shoppers not only to buy music online but to hear samples of songs for free before they plunk down their money. From Amazon.com to small labels offering CDs for sale, potential purchasers can click on 30-second excerpts of, on average, three to five songs from each CD they're thinking of buying.

Now, Walmart.com has done the idea one better: 30-second excerpts of every song on every CD Wal-Mart has for sale. It's not the same as hearing the whole song, of course, but it goes a long way toward helping shoppers decide whether to invest their hard-earned money for a CD they don't know much about.

Two provisos: Based on a visit to the Wal-Mart store in Bowling Green, it's clear that the volume and variety of CDS there don't come close to that of the Amazons and Barnes & Nobles of the Internet. Also, you may mouse-click those little eighth notes signifying a free listen and instead hear a voice advising that the samples haven't been downloaded into the system yet.

On the other hand, surfers still get to hear 30-second excerpts of a reported 1 million songs without having to buy anything at all. Tossed into the bargain are thousands more biographies and reviews of the artists and their work.

Heart attack risk

Heart disease is the nation's No. 1 cause of death, striking a million Americans and killing a half million each year. A medical panel this week recommended that three times more adults should be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, and 25 percent more should lower their fat intake. To find out what your risks are for having a heart attack over the next 10 years, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has posted a risk assessment calculator on its Web site. At the home page, click on “ATPIII Cholesterol Guidelines,” then “Patient,” then “10-year Risk Calculator.” You'll be asked to fill in such information as age, gender, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure, and whether you smoke. Click the button to see what percentage you fall into.

http://nhlbi.nih.gov

If you have a Web site to recommend, send an e-mail to tgearhart@theblade.com.



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