homecba Brianba Cousin B cb Ancestral Voicesan prod infocbr



How Can We Have World Peace

If People Can't Learn To Drive?


Well, it’s finally happened. I know it was me
speaking, but the voice passing through my vocal
chords was not my own. It was my father’s voice,
echoing those words I’d heard so often as a child;

“Driving is a privelige !!”

Of course, I felt differently about that when I
became a teen-ager. By my newfound, rebellious
standards, I deemed it an inalienable right to drive,
and by a coincidence of age, so did the law. So I got
my license at sixteen, and off I went in Mom’s ‘70

I soon learned that while I was old enough to
drive the car, I was also just young enough to really
screw it up, big time! After a short while, a steady
stream of auto horror stories flowed out of every
teen in the neighborhood. We all under-estimated
the skill level required to survive things like, oh
say, rush hour.

I think every driver has a fender bender or
near miss from those first days behind the wheel.
For many, it’s the wake-up call that makes caution
the more important part of driving. Those lucky
enough to learn driving at school have a perspective
on the issue that veteran adult drivers have been
allowed to forget. They just had to pass a written
test, covering all the laws and rules of the road, and
driving test before they were given their license.

Everybody has to know the laws of the
highway. Unfortunately, the law is limited to
basically following traffic signals and road signs.
‘Stop’, ‘One Way’, ‘No turn on Red’ ‘School Zone’
and the like appear t be fairly well understood.
However, ‘Do Not Block Intersection’,‘No Left
Turn’ and ‘Yield’ seem a little fuzzy. Especially

“There should be a law! You have to take a driving
test every time you renew your license, or you lose it!”

My dad is still shouting in the back of my mind.

"Look at that guy! He has no idea where he’s going!
He‘s just an accident goin’ somewhere to happen. If I
was in charge, a jerk like that wouldn’t be allowed to
have a car!!”

I have to admit, the older I get, the more I
agree. What puzzles me, is why such a basic part of
modern life is so rife with stupidity and danger?

As the saying goes, ‘You can’t legislate morality’.

(Or is that ‘stupidity’? I’ll say C- both of the
above.) Nowhere is this more obvious than in traffic.
On any given day, in any city, you will find these
distinct types of drivers on the road;

‘The *Thoreau-ly Modern Driver’- Believes his
car is a vehicle for Civil Disobedience. This auto
enthusiast is very good at handling the car itself,
which increases the danger almost exponentially.
This is the person that speeds up from 5 cars behind
you to pass as soon as you hit your turn signal. How
many freeway exits have you missed because this
type of driver had to pass you first? Have you
noticed that they always cross into your lane in front
of you as soon as they’re ahead?

‘The Self-Appointed-Governor-of-Speed’- This
is the person going exactly the speed limit or legally
under, but in the passing lane. While the law does
back you up, the application of the law may not
always fit the situation. Forcing someone to obey the
law can very tricky and quite likely, dangerous. This
is why we have police to do it. This is also why we
have rules as well as laws. Manipulating someone
into following the rules is alot easier, and frankly,
safer. ‘Slower traffic keep right’ signs exist for this
reason. It’s like this- if you see someone coming up
fast in your mirror (that reflecty-thing that you
check your hair and teeth in), you hit your turn
signal, and in a perfect world, the car in the right
lane just behind you (see above*) will blink their
lights, signalling that you may change lanes
safely. You then blink your lights twice to say
‘thank you’. This way, speeders are forced to pass
you on the left, like they were originally taught,
making it much easier for the police, too!

‘The Latter-Day Magellan’-This is the person
that is totally lost, even if they know where they
are going. Which lane they hold up will indicate the
side of the street they are searching. You can do
nothing but watch and keep the brake handy. They
are not breaking any laws. They are just oblivious of
everybody else. After all, they can go where they
please- this is America !!! Please don’t swear. They
can sue.

‘Mario/Maria Regretti’- This driver is on the
clock- gotta get there first or else. Even if ‘there’ is
the corner store. Any size opening is good to enough
go through, especially those impressive 3 lane
changes during morning rush hour. Every highway
is a racetrack and that favorite parking spot at the
office is the checkered flag!

‘The Highway VP’- The newest threat to life on
the road is the result of yet another wonderful
modern convenience- the cel phone. This incredibly
useful device is increasingly accounting for more
and more accidents as the popularity of the ‘mobile
office’ grows. As much as the law may uphold your
right to have one, much more basic laws rule here.
Attention span, hand-eye-coordination, visual abilities
and reflex reaction time come to mind. I am fairly
sure I don’t need to hold a doctorate to say that the
more things you do at once, the less chance of doing
them well. (Jack of all trades, master of none, if
you’re into analogies.) That puts faxing a document,
smoking a cigarette, listening to an ipod and bawling
out an underling while going 70 mph in a 2500 pound
machine quite squarely into the ‘bad idea’ category
for me.

‘The Blues and Greys- No, not Rebels and
Yanks! I mean old folks who, well, maybe shouldn’t
be driving anymore. But then, we should’ve figured
out by now how to give them a ride, so just go
around them, be cool, and then bitch at their kids
when you meet them at boring social functions.

‘The Paranoid Realist’- Given the descriptions
above, I’d say this would be pretty much all the rest
of us.

There are a few types of drivers out there that
know and rely on all the rules of the road to make
the ride easier. They are often called ‘truckers'.

You may be wondering how to spot the people
on the road who actually know and follow the rules.
Well, here’s an easy experiment that you can try in
your own car!

-Simply drive your car onto the nearest
freeway during normal daytime hours (which may
vary upon location) and continue driving until you
see a truck directly in front of you in the left lane.
(for best results, we reccommend a large interstate
vehicle). Wait until you see an opening the size of
Rhode Island in the right lane. Now, flash your
lights on and off quickly. (In the evening, you would
flash your brights) Watch in amazement as the
truck switches lanes, allowing you to pass.
(Advanced level- proceed to a safe distance ahead of
the truck and turn on your right signal. Remember,
keep an eye in the mirrors!)

So I ask, with my dad’s words ringing in my
ears, is it right to demand that people be of certain
skill and intelligence to earn the right to drive? One
part of me says that denying anyone the opportunity
is wrong and another part of me says that no one
has the right to safety so long as they feel they have
the right to endanger others for the sake of their
own desire or interpretation of ‘freedom’.

But, what do I know? I’m no PhD.


copyright 2000 Pegwood Arts all rights reserved

previous essay       Table of Contents          next essay