11 May 2005
Baby, you can't drive my Car. Especially in Memphis.
The thought of everyone driving like me sounds very utopian, for me at least. We would always wear our safety belts. We would always use turn signals. We would make sure all of the lights/indicators work on our cars. We would avoid "wolf packs" like we were taught in driver's ed. Tailgating would be avoided because driver's ed also taught us to allow a "car length for every 10 miles per hour" between us and the car in front of us. If we realized that we were about to miss a turn, we would continue around the block -- rather than stopping traffic to wait for a clear opportunity to make an illegal turn across five lanes of traffic in our ragged-out, smoking, registration expired, likely uninsured pieces of junk.
We would not cut anyone off -- ever. When exiting a parking lot or entering traffic from a side street, we would look at all of the traffic -- not just the space between us and the next car. So very often some idiot will pull out into traffic without any hope of accelerating fast enough to keep oncoming drivers from having to engage the anti-locks or swerve into another lane to keep from hitting them. And, of course, there's never anyone behind the car that the idiot pulled in front of -- for miles.
There would be no morons who seem to have flunked logic class: there is a set amount of braking distance available when approaching a stop -- largely depending on the vehicle being driven. Cutting in front of a large moving object greatly reduces the braking distance within which it has to stop unless being smashed into the intersection of crossing traffic is what 's desired. I think I understand how the semi-tractor-trailer drivers feel after they've run over someone who has cut in front of them.
We wouldn't drive giant SUVs unless we frequently traveled unpaved irregular terrain, like in the commercials for the stupid wastes of plastic, steel and fossil fuels. What is the purpose of having one of these monstrosities if the only surface those tires are going to contact is concrete, asphalt or gravel? I mean, come on! I have a friend who lives in rural Arkansas and does just fine driving his Cadillac on a gravel/dirt road between his farm and the state highway. A trip to Target, Piggly Wiggly or WalMart isn't going to require 4-wheel drive traction and enough cargo space to haul a fully-equipped kitchen over creeks and brambles. The biggest roadblock likely encountered by any driver is another idiot on a cell phone driving a giant SUV.
We wouldn't choose talking on the cell phone over driving while behind the wheel. If the call is that damned important, can anybody say hands free? What can be more important than driving when you're behind the (expletive deleted) wheel!?
Then, of course, we would not allow DVD players into the mix. Have we lost our minds? Apparently, we've lost all ability to rear our children without enlisting the help of the almighty screen. What happened to coloring books or road trip games to engage the imagination while traveling by car? Some of my fondest memories involve my sisters, brother and me in the car, traveling together with one or both of my parents, singing songs, talking, interacting. Being a family. Conducting activities that don't distract the driving parent. No, today, it's park your child's overweight butt, Twinkie or a Big Mac in hand, in front of a screen and ignore them.
Of course, it's not just the parents. While driving south on I-95 from Fort Lauderdale to Miami I was passed by a red '64 Impala. Beautiful. It definitely caught my attention. What I found incredible, though, was that the "gansta" driving was enjoying porn on a dash-mounted DVD screen at about 70 m.p.h. So the ridiculous gets worse. Thank heaven he was the only one in the car. I think. When I heard that Tennessee legislators were actually having to consider a law to ban playing porn in automobiles I couldn't believe my ears. Now we're so stupid that we can't even decide whether or not it's appropriate -- to play porn in our cars while talking on our cell phones, traveling at 70 m.p.h. -- without a lawmaker telling us so. I just don't understand what has happened to the common sense we used to have. I understand not wanting to drive an extra block, but why should my mistake be at someone else's expense? I understand the all important need to be "constantly accessible", but I don't understand why you can't pull off of the roadway if that damn phone conversation is so important. I understand not wanting to drive a "minivan" when you have kids and soccer balls and bicycles to haul. What about a smaller SUV, or even a station wagon?