I have been driving over twenty years, now, and the experiences I have had while on the road never cease to amaze me.
I am thirty-seven years old, and have never had a ticket. I am always courteous to other drivers, and have always kept the safety of my passengers, fellow motorists and myself priority one.
Shouldn’t everyone adhere to this “safety first” philosophy while driving? Isn’t this concept the main focus in every driving course throughout the nation? If so, then why is the “Instant Idiot . . . Just add License” ideal so commonly practiced?
I am minding my own business, driving just a tad over the speed limit in the far right lane down I-94, just North of Chicago. A bright yellow sign warns all southbound drivers, well in advance, of merging traffic just ahead.
As I approach the area, I noticed the line of people trying to enter the highway. The lanes to my left are full of fellow commuters apparently oblivious to my bright signal flashing repeatedly in their faces, so I could not move over. The people directly in front of me actually sped up to establish their subjective “I’m the leader” status. I let off the gas and allowed a few cars to merge in front of me. One person gestured “thank you” by waving his hand as he fluently positioned his vehicle in front of mine.
I heard a loud, continuous horn angrily bellowing behind me. I glanced up in my rear view mirror just in time to see this grumpy old man pressing the backs of his hands against the inside of his windshield and extending each of his middle fingers upward in objection of my reactions. I guess he thought I could read lips, too, because he was definitely mouthing some obscenities. It is, however, possible he was practicing his speech for the Society for Positive Change, but I have never seen such gestures given by representatives of good will. I simply ignored his moronic contribution to my day and laughed it off.
I find the “me first” mentality that plagues our roadways incredibly juvenile and humorous. People go out of the way to let drivers know they are in a hurry, running late, or just controlling, selfish jerks. Cutting other motorists off, speeding up when someone is trying to change lanes or tailgating each and every rear end their encounter just so they can be in the lead is really taking it to the extreme. This is where I like to have some fun. After all, I have nothing to do with their lack of time management skills, and have already prepared for my journey by leaving early enough to still be on time should unforeseen events occur en route.
If I am going the speed limit or just a little above, I generally keep to the right side of the road, unless politely passing someone who feels more comfortable driving at a slower speed. Vehicles hurtle past me like projectile missiles as their drivers frantically rush toward their destinations.
A bumpers sticker that reads, “I may be slow, but I’m ahead of you” proudly graces my rear bumper, ridiculing each and every person who believes I will speed up or move over simply because they are riding my tail. I don't know why, but being rushed through anything has always made me slow down. This character trait intuitively lightens my foot on the gas pedal, making the driver behind me go even slower. Perhaps this phrase and my reaction will elicit better time management practices in their future, but I'm not holding my breath.
Then are those who speed through town on one lane, two-way streets doing everything possible to take the lead - passing in no passing zones, tailgating, passing on shoulders and cutting people off – only to be met by the offended drivers at the next stop light. When I happen to be one of the oppressed, I so badly want to roll down my window and yell, “GO SPEED RACER . . . GO” or wave a checkered flag out the window, throw my hands up in the air and proclaim, “WINNER!”
The light turns green, they burn off and quickly fade out of sight. A few miles down the road, the same person is on the shoulder discussing his driving skills with the local law enforcement. I slow down just enough to smile and wave while safely driving by.
We have all had experiences with similar situations while driving, but it does not mean we should behave the same way. Too many vehicular accidents occur due to negligent, irresponsible drivers and the addition of new recruits will only lessen our odds of arriving safely to "point B."