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  • Paul

The Oblivious Disease

I love to drive. For some, it's merely time spent while traveling to the next destination, but for me, it's like therapy. Whenever I enter a freeway, a little squeak of joy escapes me--it's like the glimmering onramp to my Happy Place—especially if it comes with curves! That's why it really ticks me off when I come roaring up behind a slow-moving driver who hasn't a clue. They haven't checked their rearview mirror since they backed out of the driveway. Toddling along at their own pace, they're completely……oblivious.

Right about the time they're blinded by the shiny grille of the dump truck about to restyle the rear of their car, is the moment they'll understand. Why haven't they grasped the concept of merging with fast-moving vehicles?

Maybe they're sipping a latte. Back in the 70s & 80s, if you asked German automobile designers why cupholders weren't included anywhere in their cars, they would have laughed at the preposterous idea of drinking a beverage while driving. Anything that presented itself as a distraction was intentionally omitted. Just try to find an 80's Porsche with a cupholder.

Maybe they're talking on the phone, or eyeballing their nav screen. Every year, some automaker introduces a car with more entertainment options than ever before. It's like the marketing department keeps trying to cram an entire Best Buy into their new model. Nowadays, you're hard pressed to find any car without at least 4 cupholders, maybe a navigation screen, television screens, an infinitely adjustable stereo, built in Bluetooth, and more buttons than a nuclear powerplant control room. I'm not saying these are bad things, but what happened to driving?

Morning commutes have metamorphosed into rolling beauty salons, breakfast nooks, libraries and offices….and I don't want to be anywhere near them. This giant problem has turned us into a nation of steer-ers, not drivers. Therefore, car manufacturers are starting to treat us like the idiots we are. Headlights come on automatically. Wipers activate if you sneeze on the windshield. If you happened to call in sick the day your driving instructor taught parking skills, Lexus has an answer! The LS460L can be purchased with a system designed solely to park the damn car for you. It doesn't work very well, and it's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Whatever happened to learning how to park it yourself?

What I'm saying is this: a re-evaluation of our driving habits is long overdue. Being part of the cure for this disease means using better judgment. There are things we can do to heighten our awareness and courtesy when driving. Should mandatory advanced driving courses be decreed throughout the land? Should we implement biannual driving tests? Maybe we should simply start with checking our rearview mirrors more often, and understand that driving is a team sport. If we learned to flow more smoothly on and off our freeways, there would be less traffic and fewer accidents, period.

By the way, the traffic signal meter in the middle of the onramp officially gets my third place vote in the History of Bad Ideas book. I don't know what one and two are, but this maddening contraption has got to rank high…

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