I’m guessing that the teenaged versions of most of us could barely wait to acquire our driver’s licences. Fourteen-year-old me requently lost sleep by imagining myself behind the wheel of an actual automobile. Fifteen-year-old me was at the county courthouse on my birthday to apply for a learner’s permit. Then it was on to Driver’s Ed during summer school at the high school. On my sixteenth birthday, I was prepared and psyched up for the written and driving tests.
I still vaguely remember the Nebraska State Patrol trooper sitting next to me in dad’s Buick telling me where to drive while he concentrated upon my every movement behind the wheel. When all was written and done, I learned that I scored 100% on both of the tests. The Department of Motor Vehicles issued me my first license. I could barely contain my excitement. From that day forward, the ability to drive has enhanced my life.
I’ve only garnered one speeding ticket. I was late for work so I risked driving much faster than the speed limit on the 280 Freeway between San Jose and Palo Alto, California. It was a rainy night but I still managed to clip along at a quick pace. Seemingly out of nowhere, a patrol car’s blue and red lights appeared. Through the car’s PA horn, the patrolman ordered me to change lanes and park at the shoulder. I did so. The officer asked if I was late for something. I replied that I was. I then had to wait for what seemed like an eternity until the patrolman walked back to my car and issued the speeding ticket. At least I had physical evidence to show my angry boss the excuse for being tardy to work.
Aside from a couple of minor parking lot scrapes, I’ve never been involved in a traffic mishap. I fully intend to remain accident free. I find this remarkable, given the hundreds of thousands of miles I’ve spent behind the wheel. Of course, there have been some close calls due to poor weather and road conditions, but in the end it’s been all good.
It seems that as young and middle-aged drivers, we expect driving to be relatively carefree and easy. We hone our driving skills and learn to be more mindful of the act of driving. Hopefully, we learn to be more courteous, too. For the most part, people are reasonably skilled drivers, although it seems as if most of us nudge our cars’ velocity a little past the posted speed limit.
On the other hand, we notice early on that there are also a few careless, dangerous people on the streets and roads. They drive as if they’re competing in a road rally or a drag race. We learn to keep a reasonable distance between them and us. We also make allowances for the better than even chance that some drivers may be intoxicated or otherwise distracted. Some folks seem to have missed the message that texting while driving is a horrible thing to do.
We like to imagine ourselves as better than average drivers. However, the truth is that we’re probably average and some of us are below average drivers. The most exceptional drivers are actually found among the ranks of professional bus and truck drivers. The most impeccable drivers likely drive for federal intelligence agencies, and as chauffeurs for the President.
Having been a licensed driver for several decades, I’m less enthusiastic about driving. Driving is still a palpable joy on calm, sunny days. However, the process of aging has affected my vision and reaction times. In a few years, my next license renewal will require a mandatory driving test. In that regard, I mentally feel like a fourteen-year-old who is anticipating having a state trooper judging every move while I take the mandated test.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes former insurance company executive, Mac McCleary. ” Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead.”
There are way too many impatient and obnoxious drivers. They run red lights, turn in front of oncoming traffic, etc.
Good point. A few weeks ago, after the traffic signal turned green, a car made a right turn from the left-turn lane right in front of me. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.
I was actually nervous and hesitant about driving. I got my license at 19, a few years after I was legally eligible for it.
I understand this because one of my cousins felt the same way as you. I think she also waited until her 19th birthday.
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I also wrote my driver’s test on the first day I was eligible after a summer of learning how to drive on the backroads at our cabin with my nervous dad as my teacher. A few years ago I had to redo the test in a large van for a volunteer job I had. I was almost more nervous for that because I knew I’d picked up bad habits 🙂 Maggie
Oh yes, bad driving habits creep up on us.
I think you were unlucky to get ticketed in the rain. These days at least, most cops seem to hate getting out of their cars when it rains.
To be honest, I really deserved the ticket. The speeding was a very stupid thing to do because the road conditions were unsafe. I learned a valuable lesson that I’ll never forget.