The jerk ahead of me turned left, smack in front of two fast approaching cars
at the busy intersection. I watched the pair of oncoming autos slam on their brakes and yank their steering wheels to avoid a smashup.
I saw the jerk finish his turn and continue on either not realizing the stupidity of his actions or congratulating himself on escaping
serious harm to his car and body. Jerk saved 4 or 5 seconds by making that foolhardy and dangerous turn, rather than waiting for a
safe space in which to turn.
I could almost hear the repugnant crunch
of metal on metal and the noise of shattered glass exploding and sliding across the blacktop.
Just a second or two either way and there would have been injury, perhaps death and lifelong memories of disaster. Families and loved
ones would have been inadvertently involved.
And it almost happened because
the driver wanted to save a few seconds or because his mind was on something else as he approached the intersection.
Why the guy turned like that in front of those oncoming cars intrigued me. It also frightened me, thinking that there are people like
that filling our highways and roads. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors and ages. I thought of the different kinds of cranks that
sit behind their steering wheels, bringing danger all too close to many of us – every minute of every day.
“The Nervous Nellie.” Usually an older woman. Can barely see over the dashboard. Gets in her car, starts the engine and
puts two hands on the steering wheel, both at the noon position. She steps on the gas and holds on as the car seemingly goes where
it wants to, with the driver just holding on. Everyone on the road should stay clear of this one. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 50% (the
percentage represents how much the driver is really aware of what’s going on around him or her).
. . .
“The A.J. Foyt.” Usually a young man or young
lady with their first car. Always wanted to be a race car driver. Never made it so drives like every road is his or her own personal
race track. Takes corners on two wheels, wants to pass everyone on the road. Speed makes him or her a deadly threat. Driver’s Awareness
. . .
“The Late Braker.” Thinks his reflexes are superior
to all others on the road. Scares his passengers. Stomps on brake only at the very last second. Panics anyone watching in their rear
view mirror as he approaches going 65 miles an hour. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 70%.
. . .
“The Tour Guide.” This one is holding up
a map with one hand, peering over it every few seconds to remind himself he’s driving down a city street. Between looking at the map
and assuring his passengers that he knows where he’s going he’s devoting about a third of his attention to his driving. A good bet
to ram the car ahead. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 33%.
. . .
Girlfriends.” They’re both 20-years old. They work together and they’re going to the mall after work. The driver is so excited,
telling her passenger all about her latest boyfriend and her day at work that she spends half her time turning towards her friend,
away from the road. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 50%.
. . .
“The Driving Mother.” She
drives an enormous SUV with her two children parked in their safety seats in the back, however she spends much of her time turning
around wiping their faces, telling them how to behave and asking them how pre-school went today. This one comes complete with the
sounds of screeching tires. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 65%.
. . .
A Man.” This man must be over 80 years of age. His first car was a 1932 Ford Model A. It’s still his favorite car. He drives
down the freeway at Model A speeds: 40 miles per hour, even though he now drives a brand new, high powered Lexus. He closely watches
every car passing him as he comments, “What’s the big hurry, where’s the fire?” He used to be a good driver, but speeds past 40 MPH
confuse and terrify him. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 60%
. . .
“Hello, Hello Driver.” This is the guy who hears his
cell phone ringing, forgets where he put it. He pats his pockets, feels around the passenger seat, looks on the carpeted floorboard
in hope of finding the phone before it stops ringing. Finally realizes he’s sitting on the phone. Opens it and says, “Hello, hello,”
just as the caller hangs up. He’s not aware that he hasn’t looked at the road in front of him for 30-seconds. Driver’s Awareness Rating:
. . .
“The Oblivious Driver.” She’s driving along the freeway,
in the fast lane, thinking of dinner this evening with her boyfriend. She suddenly realizes that she has to get off at the next freeway
exit ramp, so she turns on her right turn blinker and proceeds to cross over three lanes, in front of 4 cars and 3 trucks. Seven drivers
proceed down the freeway, each one swearing like a longshoreman at “The Oblivious Driver,” who is still thinking of her date later
this evening. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 30%.
. . .
“The Slot Car Driver.” This guy had a slot car set up as a
child. He drives a small, overpowered sports car, zipping in and out of traffic, changing lanes every 50 feet, pretending he’s a race
car driver. Loves to feel acceleration. Hates to use his brakes. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 70%.
. . .
“The Smoking Driver.” This is the man who smokes while driving. A circle of smoke encircles the driver’s head as he puffs away.
A hot ash from the cigarette often drops in the crotch area, panicking the driver as he levitates above the seat, attempting to find
the burning cinder, all the while taking his eyes off the road in front of him. Guaranteed to rear-end a car this year. Driver’s Awareness
Wheel.” Drives what used to be a normal sized pick-up truck. Had the body raised and replaced the tires with rubber taller than
Wilt Chamberlain. Sits in the driver’s seat 14 feet above the road. Peers down at everyone. Drives as though he owns the road. Plan
is to impress the ladies and intimidate other drivers. Can completely run over a Mini-Cooper. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 65%.
. . .
“Queen of the Road.” Usually, small blond woman driving a humungous
SUV. A Cadillac Escalade or Chevy Suburban. She looks tiny behind the wheel. Has all the needed tools – cup of Starbuck’s coffee,
a lit cigarette, talking on her cell phone, listening to “Good Morning America” on the television blaring in the rear seat. Believes
no harm can come to her. Causes others to have accidents, but drives away without a scratch. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 40%.
. . .
“The Bass Player.” More of a set of giant speakers on wheels, rather than an automobile. The driver turns up the volume, hypes
the bass, opens the car windows and slowly drives wherever teens would congregate. A roadway danger – driving with a splitting headache
and ringing ears. His attention is focused on retaining the vibrating fillings in his molars. Driver’s Awareness Rating: 55%.
. . .
So, now when I drive my car I think of how many of my fellow drivers
are drunk, on illegal drugs, on prescription drugs, psychologically unfit to drive, angry, distracted, too old to drive or too immature
The scary part is how easy it is to get a license to drive a