Just to be clear, I approve of smoke alarms. My husband and I own two of them, and although they have an irritating tendency to go off just because, say, I turn my back a shade too long while the eggplant is browning, I have never once suggested we save money on batteries by taking them down. Smoke alarms are a good thing. You will never hear me say otherwise.

Just to be clear, I approve of smoke alarms. My husband and I own two of them, and although they have an irritating tendency to go off just because, say, I turn my back a shade too long while the eggplant is browning, I have never once suggested we save money on batteries by taking them down. Smoke alarms are a good thing. You will never hear me say otherwise.

Carbon monoxide alarms are good things too. I just checked ours, and was reassured to see its green light glowing. I've never heard the carbon monoxide alarm in full alert mode, but I assume that it's as unendurable as the smoke alarm, which causes us to flap magazines and towels and small rugs underneath it while the dog throws us accusing looks and slinks away to hide. The carbon monoxide alarm has been in the same place for years, doing its duty and looking like our first telephone answering machine. Although edgy and techno-sleek it's not -- it gets no points for trend setting and it's in the negative numbers for style -- the carbon monoxide alarm stays.

I mention these things to establish that I'm not a person who automatically rejects all safety devices. I use the handrail. I don't engage in horseplay on the escalator. (It's true that I did, once, engage in horseplay with my friend Janet, but having established the extreme difficulty of going down an up escalator, I now ascend or descend quietly, moving, if I move at all, in the same direction as the stairs.)

I watch my step. I wait until the amusement park ride has come to a complete and final stop. I prefer, as friends and family will confirm, to observe the "Don't Walk" by not walking. I must be harassed into crossing in the middle of the block.

What's more, I fasten my seatbelt. I can't imagine rattling around loose in the car, like a bean in an otherwise empty coffee can. I'm almost sure that I keep my hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, although even I doubt that's really a rule of life or death.

But -- and here we come to the crux of this rant -- in a moment of peril, I don't need to be told, "You're in peril."

The recent heavy snowfalls and our 600-foot driveway -- a driveway that doesn't simply drift so much as it wants to drift, the way a whippet wants to run and an eagle wants to soar -- together helped show us what our car manufacturer apparently considers a safety feature. We were heading out on a driveway that had been plowed but was still a long stretch of ruts and moguls and snow clumps and deep places and whorls. Inevitably, the car began to slide, and as my husband turned the wheel to bring it back, and it slid some more, and he brought it back again, and it slid again, we were treated to the constant DING-DING-DING of a warning bell.

"What is that?" I said.

"It's telling us we're sliding," said my husband, turning the wheel one way and then turning it another.

"We know that already," I said, raising my voice to be heard over the DING-DING-DINGs.

While I appreciate all efforts to promote safety on our nation's highways, it's plain silly to distract drivers who are already fish-tailing all over the place with a string of DING-DING-DINGs. At that point, quiet is what they need. Have the car turn the radio off, if it wants to do something helpful.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer. E-mail her at mbartlett@thisweeknews.com