Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slow Down!!

It is winter, yet people in Kentucky aren't driving any better than their usual.  I have lived all over and while drivers in NY and LA are aggressive, they majority generally have some  ability.  Not so, here in KY.  

As a military family, we have lived all over the world and we all agree that the drivers in this state are the worst we have encountered in America.  Hard to believe?  Well, the fact that one of the most affordable states in the Union also has some of the highest auto insurance rates should be an indication of the poor driving  ability of the locals.

Not only are they aggressive in their driving, but they are for the most part, unskilled.  I have never seen such horrific driving and it really grates on my nerves. I was in a serious car accident, caused by a reckless teenager running a red light, about 13 years ago.  When people speed, road rage and take foolish risks I feel a sickening combinations of anger and fear.

I really feel that getting your license in this country should be much more difficult.  Drivers should have to demonstrate real skill and they should have to continue to show it throughout their lives as license holders.  It is laughably easy to get a license.  Don't think so?

When I was 17, I had been behind the wheel of a car exactly 3 times in my life, for less than 15 minutes each time.  On my 14th, 15th and 16th birthday, I got to drive around some parking lots.

So, without a permit and with 45 minutes of driving experience, I took my drivers test and passed.  I was loosed on the world.  Now, luckily, my Dad spent more time teaching me and then I ended up in the military and LA, where I learned extreme defensive driving, but the woman that passed me could not possibly know that I would get more instruction.  To her, my nervous and clumsy driving was acceptable.  

It only takes a few moments in city traffic to realize that at least half the people behind the wheel don't belong there.  In America, we think of driving as a right and necessary, but it is a privilege that should only be granted to the highly trained and skilled.  By this standard, I figure at least half my immediate family would lose their licenses.  I might even lose mine.  I am careful, but not an expert and I am beginning to think only experts should have the right to drive.

I have long wished I could bike more often to places I need to go, but I just know some idiot motorist would turn me into road kill.  If it weren't for the likelihood that my fellow countrymen will behave like extras in a Mad Max movie, I almost welcome gas shortages. 

I often wonder if diminishing oil reserves isn't God's way of helping us out of the mess we have made of our world.  There would be less pollution, more exercise and people would be forced to slow down in their daily lives.  

Instead of speeding from one play date, piano lesson, shopping trip and meeting after another, we would have to live more mindfully.  Instead of filling our days with mindlessness, we would have to be aware.  Why are we afraid to slow-down?  Is it because so many people are trying to fill a void with busyness and material goods?  I think so.

This rant is all caused by the fact that yesterday, some foolish, idiotic and clueless driver of a giant gas-guzzling SUV nearly killed my Mom, my niece, both my daughters and me. 

We were at a stop light and the light turned green.  My mother looked both ways and (thank God) slowly edged out into traffic when this maniac came barreling up a hill at a high rate of speed.  She never even slowed down as she gunned her way through the intersection.

My mother had slammed on the brakes and blared the horn, but as we sat, stunned, in the middle of the road, the crazy woman behind the wheel of the SUV was already blocks up the road.  Never once did she touch her brakes!!

Our car is tiny, we jokingly refer to it as the clown car.  That truck, going at least 50 MPH would have killed all of us.  I was so sick to my stomach afterwards.  I wish I never had to ride in a car again.  

All night long instead of sleep, I not only kept reliving the near-miss, but my mind tortured me with scenes of a crash.  Broken and bleeding bodies, 3 lovely little girls crushed and killed.  All so some idiot could rush head-long into her busy life.

Am I bitter and angry?  Absolutely.  I seriously could have followed that woman until I yanked her from her car and beat her senseless.  But, I see this kind of reckless driving everyday.  I would never get anywhere if I confronted every lousy driver to cross my path.

I have already limited the amount of driving and automobile trips I take, after this, I expect to clear my calender of out of town appointments and limit myself even further.  Unnecessary trips were already becoming a thing of the past, this just firms my resolve.

Thankfully, I live in a small town that is easily walkable and if I do have to drive, the speed limit varies from 15 MPH to 35 MPH in town.  Some day, when my children are grown, I might consider moving to a major city with real, walkable neighborhoods and efficient public transportation, but until then my carbon footprint will be greatly reduced.   

I am sure some people think this is a gross over reaction, but auto accidents are still the leading killer of children in this country.  I have been rammed by an idiot driver in a truck once before and nearly died.  Now, I spend my life with constant pain and stiffness.  I will be damned if I let it happen to my kids.

I don't expect that lawmakers in this country will change things so that those carrying a license are actually skilled and responsible, so I guess I will have to wait for the pending oil crisis to clear the roads of morons.

Please be more conscious when you drive.  You are not as good or as careful as you think you are.  None of us are.

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