The halt, the lame, the (almost) blind
written by Ron:
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And they're driving on our roads
If youíve been to your Department of Motor Vehicles office lately youíve seen the wide variety of human beings that are there to get or renew their driverís licenses.
I had received the notice that my driverís license was due to expire so I dug out my little booklet that I used four years previously to study the laws of driving. I have to admit that I get a little nervous about taking the written test, so I study the rules and regulations closely. I lose all confidence when it comes to taking the driverís test, regardless of how many hours Iíve spent reading the driverís handbook. I turn into a sophomore in high school taking my first algebra test.- humbled, unsure and uncomfortable.
I studied, made an appointment to take the tests and drove to the DMV.
I tore a number out of the machine that spits out the little numbered tags that decide when I will be called to take the eye test, the written test and give my thumb print to the unfriendly and bored lady behind the counter, inside her secure cage.
As I sat waiting for my number (26) to appear I looked around at my fellow test takers. Sitting around me was a senior citizen couple, a pretty young girl in her teens, a 50-year old man wearing a ďGrateful DeadĒ T-shirt, two young women in their twenties sporting pierced noses and lips and a very old man, assisted by a younger woman who appeared to be his caretaker.
With their good fortune, and mine, this group will soon pass their tests and be driving on the same roads as I do.
Now, I may not be the greatest car driver in existence, but I am one of the most serious drivers youíll find anywhere. I take the job of steering three tons of metal, plastic, rubber and imitation leather seriously. I donít text or use my cell phone while driving. I donít like to be distracted with idle chit-chat while going down the freeway at seventy miles an hour. Iím aware of whatís going on around me and I keep a healthy distance between me and the cars in front and rear of mine.
I believe that accidents can happen in an instant and they can involve me if I donít pay close attention to my driving and the driving of those around me. I never want to hear the sound of screeching tires on the road, the crunching metal on metal sound or the terrible sound of broken glass exploding on the roadway. Oh, I take driving seriously. Fear motivates me.
I passed my written test, missing only one question. I passed the eye test with the help of my eye glasses. I paid my fee, got my temporary drivers license and left the DMV.
Driving home it dawned on me that some, if not all, of the people waiting to take their tests will be sharing the roadways with me.
The old man who could barely walk without assistance. The two pierced young ladies, the ďGrateful DeadĒ guy, and pretty young girl in her teens. They could all be driving on the same roads as I do. A scary thought.
Scarier was the question of how many people who have had a few drinks are driving on the road with me. How many just smoked a little pot. How many are on illegal or legal drugs. How many just had a fight with their wife or husband and are filled with anger and rage topped off with a half dozen beers? How many just finished a dose of crystal meth, heroin or cocaine? How many cars are being driven by the elderly who cannot react without endangering all those around them.
How many are drunk? How many are texting or talking on their cell phones, barely aware of others on the road? How many are blindingly angry and paying little attention to their driving. Could I be surrounded by a group of these affected people?
Maybe the time has come to take the business of licensing automobile drivers more strictly and with more rigor.
Lie detector tests, asking if the applicant has a drug or drinking problem can be used. Everyone should be given road tests with every renewal application. Sudden, emergency situations should be employed to see if the applicant can adequately respond to the situation. If the applicant proves to the tester that they are unable to handle emergencies properly they should be denied a license until they prove capable.
Psychological profiles should be required to see if the applicant can handle sudden, hazardous, complicated or perilous conditions.
Young people should be tested for driving maturity or be denied a license. The elderly, who cannot safely drive on our roads should (unfortunately) be denied licenses
I would feel better if I knew that those that share the road with me were fully capable of avoiding or being the cause of accidents.
Driving three tons of machinery is serious business. Maybe there would be a lessening of deaths and injury on our roads if obtaining a driverís license would be treated more as a privilege to those able to function safely and properly behind the steering wheel.
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