Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Good Driver/Bad Driver

Are you a good driver?

Of course you are!

We all believe we are good drivers, don't we? We may admit to other weaknesses, and readily:

"I'm a terrible cook."

"I can't sing."

"I do not run."

Many of us don't want to cook, or sing, or go for a run. But we all want to drive. And we all think we're good drivers.

Many people who live in Utah are evidently being forced by someone to live here. (Topic for a future post.) And to drive here. And they don't like it. I hear natives of other states bashing Utah drivers all the time. Natives of much cooler places like Idaho, Indiana, and Nebraska where, I guess, people just have a gift of superior driving skills.

One young man I'm friends with on Facebook recently complained (again) about Utah drivers. He had been driving somewhere and an Asian guy in a mini van almost changed lanes into his door. Let's see...Asians are often from Asia. But this young man seemed pretty sure this Asian was a Utahn. Then a guy in a pick-up nearly rammed him into a semi. The pick-up driver could have been a Utahn. The semi driver probably wasn't. Did the guy in the pick-up hit him? No. Could he possibly have been following too closely behind the semi?

Heavens, no!

 He's from Indiana!

I learned to drive in Massachusetts, where driving is a whole different sport. It kind of has to be. Where I grew up, we had very heavy traffic between Memorial Day and Labor Day. If you wanted to get anywhere, there were a few techniques you had to use that are not exactly permissible in some other states. For instance, if you're waiting to turn onto a road that is heavy with traffic, you might "stick your nose out" and the next approaching car will slow down and let you in. You then wave a thank you and he waves a you're welcome back. Everybody's good. Everybody's good because everybody knows that everybody has to do this or they'll never get where they're going.

I remember one time when I was teaching one of my kids to drive. My mother was visiting from Massachusetts. My son was driving. I was riding shotgun. My mother was in the backseat. We were sitting at a stop sign, needing to turn right onto a busy street. My son was patiently waiting for a break in the flow.

"Just stick your nose out a little and someone will let you in," my mother advised from the backseat.

My foot slammed down on the imaginary parent break in front of me as I hollered "NO!"

Then I calmly explained, "We don't do that here."

We would get hit.

 People simply aren't expecting it like they are in Massachusetts. I don't think it makes them bad drivers. In fact, I'm pretty sure a Utah driver would think that "sticking your nose out" qualifies you as a bad driver.

We lived in Pennsylvania for a few years. That was an interesting place to drive. I caught on fast - you'd better be prepared to accelerate as soon as the light turns green. And a little early wouldn't hurt. Everyone behind you starts honking just before the light changes. It was a bit unnerving at first, but I got to think of it as a game. Watch for the other direction's light to turn yellow and HONK! You might be the first one to honk, and then, well, that makes you a good driver. In Pennsylvania, anyway.

My son just got back from living in Germany for two years. He's very proud of his German driver's license. He told me that traffic lights in Germany turn from red to yellow to green, meaning you can leave a little early and it's okay.


I happen to know that many Pennsylvanians are of German descent.

And they're all good drivers.

We all are, aren't we?