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Driving! Me Crazy.
Last night we drove down to Fort Lauderdale to pick up a friend at the airport. From West Palm Beach that is about 47 miles. We took the I-95 and, on the way, passed an accident. I used to take I-95 south to Miami often, a distance of about 70 miles. I do not believe I have ever driven that route without encountering at least one accident. Often there are wrecks both coming and going.
People drive badly here. I don’t know if it is because of age. Many poor drivers are elderly but equally many young drivers drive poorly. Perhaps they have moved here from up north where they didn’t drive but now down here they must. Maybe it is because many are immigrants from countries in which they didn’t drive, countries like Haiti or Guatemala and now they are on the road not really knowing how to drive or the rules. Whatever the reason, people drive badly down here. I have even seen people, who missed their exit, stop on the freeway and back up rather than go on to the next exit and backtrack. Huh!?
The Driver’s License
This got me thinking of my rite of passage, i.e. getting my driver’s license. There but for good fortune go I.
While in high school I lived overseas with my mother and step-father. My junior and senior years were spent in Morocco. I never had the opportunity to drive. After graduation I stayed in San Diego with my father during the summer before college.
Unfortunately, at this time my father was dealing with some health issues and part of the time he was incapacitated. I did not feel comfortable with his driving. I decided I needed to get a driver’s license.
Luckily my father’s car, I think it was a Chrysler, had a push button shifter so there was no clutch and gear shift to deal with. Get in. Turn on the ignition. Go. Even I was up to that.
And that is what I did. I got in; started the car; pushed the button and headed down the San Diego freeway for the Motor Vehicle Department. Go’in to get my license. When I got there I found out I had to take a multiple choice test on California motor vehicle law. Wow, I knew nothing about this. But I was a smart kid. I went ahead. Took the test and passed it.
Most of it was pretty self-evident. Questions like ” You see a pedestrian crossing the street in the middle of the block”
A) Speed up to get past him before he blocks your way.
B) Hit the pedestrian because jay-walking is illegal.
C) Honk and yell at the pedestrian to scare him off the road.
D) Stop and give the pedestrian the right of way
I hope you got it right. I did.
So now I had to do the drivers test. The officer got in the car on the passenger’s side and instructed me to start the car, which I did. He then directed me ahead to a large asphalt lot in which traffic cones were set up to simulate parking places and lanes of traffic. We were the only vehicle in the lot.
He told me to parallel park the car. I did that easily. He told me to back the car up. I did that too. No sweat! So then he directed me out onto the street into the traffic. It was a busy street with three or four lanes each way. I was cruising along weaving my way through traffic when I went through a stop sign.
OK, kid, take it back. You failed. Going through a stop sign is an automatic failure.
Oh, I just didn’t see it. Was there anything else I did I could improve on?
Kid, you are probably the worst driver I have ever tested. It looks to me like you have been driving about one day.
What else could I improve on?
Well, for one, when you back the car you should look in the rear view mirror to see what is behind you.
(I didn’t think that was a fair criticism. I knew there was nothing behind us. I thought he wanted to know if I knew how to make the car go backwards.)
And, second, the object of driving is not to try every lane on the road. You were all over the place and should have stayed in your lane.
And third, you weren’t watching what you were doing which is the reason you ran the stop sign.
I’m going to give you a learners permit and you can drive if you have an adult in the car with you. I don’t want to see you down here again for at least six months.
The next day I went down and retook the driving test. I made certain I got a different officer. It took me five tries to parallel park. However, I looked in the rear view mirror when I backed up and I stayed in one lane and I stopped for the stop sign. Tah Dah! I passed. I had my California driver license.
The next day I got my first traffic ticket: ran a red light.
Watch out out there.
More to come
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