On the way to a movie this afternoon a young woman came up behind us and zipped around our car like a bat out of hell just as we were merging onto an interstate highway. Hubby, who is usually dedicated to being non-judgemental, declared Wow! Seems like the young women today in their teens and twenties drive like crazy maniacs. I allowed as to how I felt young women felt obligated to drive recklessly, not only in an attempt to prove they’re as fearless as their male counterparts but also it’s the cool thing to do. It’s just not cool to drive like a woman, or–heaven forbid–like a grandma.
After nearly fifty years of driving, and over the years I racked up quite a number of hours and miles, I can say that I have never had an accident or been issued a ticket for a traffic violation. On Interstates and major highways I drive no faster than a mile or two over (or under) the speed limit as safety permits. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t think my ability has decreased as much as my confidence. Consequently when I do drive, I obey the traffic laws, even to giving signals to show my intentions to turn, etc., and I usually stick to either the middle or the slower lane, depending on the distance to my destination.
Now and then I read about suggestions from some politicians and opinion makers for mandatory testing of drivers 70 and older. Indeed, at least 27 states now set an age–typically 65 or 70–at which drivers must begin to renew their licenses more frequently or in person. New Hampshire, Illinois and the District of Columbia require road tests for older drivers. But after the incident described above, and countless others like it involving not only young female but male drivers as well, I think we’re concentrating on the wrong age group!
I was very impressed to read a letter to the editor in The Public Forum of the SLC Tribune today from a woman who, like me apparently, has read how mandatory testing for grandmas (and grandpas as well) would make highways safe. She decided to take her own informal poll by checking to see what grandma is doing and not doing while she’s driving. Here’s a few things, quoted from her letter, that she found that grandma was doing as well as those she was not doing:
“Amazingly, she is courteous and does not tailgate–she leaves enough room to see the tires of the car in front of her. She does not honk the horn at the car ahead if it’s a little slow getting off at the starting gate. She does not keep the state motto: You’re first after me!
“She puts her makeup on before leaving the house; her hands are the steering wheel while driving. She makes sure the kids in the back seat are correctly buckled. She likes to talk, but not on the phone while driving. She does not speed excessively or weave in and out of traffic, jeopardizing any other drivers. Last, but not least, she lets other drivers get ahead of her if they are waiting to go into her lane. “
She goes on to suggest that the police department publish a weekly poll, listing names, ages, and reasons for tickets being issued by traffic enforcement. I heartily agree with her conclusions: “It won’t take long to see who’s dangerous on the roads!”