A geezer guru gives his rules of the road
By JAN GLIDEWELL
Published February 6, 2005
There used to be a brotherhood of the road. That was back in the days when you still felt relatively safe stopping at rest stops without armed guards and when hitchhikers didn't wear signs around their necks saying "DON'T BELIEVE MY ENEMIES. I NEVER MURDERED AN AX."
And the acknowledged recognition signal among the brotherhood was that, when you saw a law enforcement officer lying in wait for unsuspecting speeders to come over the next hill, you'd blink your lights as a warning.
I don't do any of the above anymore. The first two out of common sense and the final because I'm tired of aggressive drivers who tailgate, flash their lights and, if you leave a 6-foot gap, some idiot in a souped up miniwreck will cut in on his way through three other lanes.
And, I am well aware that traffic matters for these sections are in the hands of a very capable columnist, my old friend and colleague, Stephen Hegarty, but Hegarty still lacks the geezer perspective on such matters. He's getting there, but hasn't quite made it yet.
Yeah, I know, we old duffers are stereotyped as being afraid of speed, driving for miles with our turn signals on and peering over (sometimes under) our steering wheels with the glazed look of the permanently lost.
But stereotypes, as always, can be misleading. I am usually guilty of only one of those habits, and I wouldn't be if the Chevrolet people had made the clicking sound on turn signals louder. And, no, I don't need a hearing aid. I hear fine. I just need for all of the rest of you to stop mumbling.
I don't hog the left lane, and I sort of agree with another former colleague who pointed out that leaving the lane open so that those devoted to breaking the law can do so unimpeded because not letting them do so is a major cause of road rage.
But there is a certain irony in declaring that speed limits are really speed suggestions and that we are all obligated to accommodate those who disregard the law in order to keep them from becoming enraged and violating other laws by beating our brains in with tire irons or blowing us away with shotguns.
Who is in charge here anyhow?
My worst left-lane offense is that I use my cruise control - a device that has saved me from I don't know how many speeding tickets - and, when traffic in the right lane is moving too slowly, use the hand control to ease my speed up a little to pass. Yes. You are right. Sometimes that takes me a little over the speed limit.
The problem I seem to be creating then is that I am not breaking the law enough by driving at 80 to make my pass.
Two other quick notes.
First, learn to merge.
When you are merging with interstate traffic, it is your responsibility to wait for an opening. It is not my responsibility to run the 12-ton car carrier next to me off the road moving over for you.
And, finally, road racing.
A recent television newsmagazine on the subject fascinated me.
It seems that some of the small souped-up junkers you see on the road are the result of easy-to-install speed kits that let the drivers, get this, live out their video game fantasies.
Instead of piloting a virtual car down a virtual road, they can now take real cars and get out there and play games with real rubber and steel on the highway.
The capper for me was an interview with the half-witted mother of one of these kids who, asked if she was concerned about the inherent dangers in such play, responded to the effect, "Well, at least if he dies, I will know he died doing something he loved."
Just too bad, I guess, for the young family or school bus full of kids he happens to take out while he is doing something he loves.
Maybe we should license parents instead of drivers, since a lot of bad drivers don't bother with things like licenses and insurance anyhow.
I have more, much more, but Golden Corral is opening in 40 minutes, and I'm going to drive there.
[Last modified February 6, 2005, 00:21:17]
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