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DEAR HELOISE: While driving, I noticed a number of people who were driving and talking on the phone. One guy was so distracted he ran a red light. I've seen women putting on their makeup while driving, slamming on the brakes when realizing there was a stop sign just ahead.

Distracted driving has grown rapidly in this country as people play with their cellphones, fiddle with the radio or eat lunch while driving, all of which take their attention away from the road. Yes, a long drive is boring, but distracted driving can make it deadly.

Thousands of highway fatalities are attributed to distracted driving every year. Put down the cellphone and don't answer it if it rings, or pull off the road to answer or return the call. At the end of the drive, go home alive.

-- Alice in Indiana

DEAR READER: I've noticed distracted drivers as well, and we all need to determine not to be one of those who make traveling so much more dangerous. Some cellphones have a feature that can alert callers that you are currently driving and will get back to them as soon as possible. Thank you for speaking out and reminding us all to be more alert while on the road.

DEAR HELOISE: This hint is for anyone shopping with small children: Instead of trying to park nearest the store, try to get a space next to the cart return. There is usually a cart there you can grab to put the child in right away. This reduces carrying and/or worrying about the child running off in a parking lot. Then when done shopping and putting items in the car and the child in a car seat, you do not have to leave (or carry) the little one to return the cart. The cart return will be close at hand. This is safer and easier for you both.

-- Stephanie in Virginia

DEAR READER: That's a very good point. It's best not to leave your child for even a minute.

DEAR HELOISE: The "Can you hear me" scam calls are back. The call could appear to be from a local number, so you might be more inclined to answer it. When you do answer, the caller will try to get you to say "yes" so they can use your voice to authorize some sort of payment for goods and services, or they can then sell your telephone number as "active" to other telemarketers. Please tell your readers to say nothing. Just hang up on these callers.

-- Lydia in Texas

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

[email protected]

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