This year, many of the car companies appear to be offering new safety features on their vehicles. The most common of these options is the self-park system which means a car will parallel park itself, supposedly saving drivers the stress of trying to maneuver their cars into tight spots.
If you are any type of control freak, this option, in my opinion, only adds to a driver’s stress. In order for this self-park system to work, a driver must not touch the wheel or hit the brake during the entire parking process. When my dealer demonstrated this option during a test drive, I found myself screaming out,
“Cut the wheel now, you damn car! What are you doing? You can’t park; Let me do this myself! Who taught you to drive?”
After gauging my reaction, my dealer thought it best that I bow out of this high-tech option and just park my car on my own. I have to admit that I have a problem with these safety features in that they lull a driver into a false sense of security and let them off the hook when it comes to learning and maintaining basic car-driving skills.
I know this sounds preachy and arrogant and assumes that I think I am the best driver in the world. Well, I will say flat out that while I am not the best driver in the world, I humbly believe I am in the top 100 – okay, the top 100 in my town anyway. And there is a reason for this: the average age of drivers in my town seems to be hovering a little above 78. I don’t know how this happened. One year, all the senior citizens were moving to Florida and the next year, they decided the Sunshine State was not good enough for them. Some of the town’s residents blamed global warming for the seniors’ desire to stay where they are, but, personally, I think it’s the construction of the brand new Trauma One hospital that is set to open this summer. Nothing spells fun to the over 75 crowd like a slew of medical specialists who they can visit each day… by driving… in cars.
I think it’s best I apologize in advance for those remarks so that I avoid the wrath of the AARP and whatever other senior citizen groups are out there. I truly do not mean to pick on the older driving set, but I have observed that they do motor to a different set of rules than the rest of the population, and these rules are apparently ticket proof. Oh, I know, we all want to hear how bad teenagers are, and I know the insurance industry and federal government say that senior citizens are safe drivers, and maybe many are, but I think there is a bit of bribery going on with these “official” findings.
I was telling my 80+-year-old neighbor about my senior bribery theories, and he laughed at me; however, he didn’t deny it. He explained that although the 75+ seniors make a lot of serious driving boo boos, they are allowed these boo boos because they are the generation that won the war – that would be War World II – apparently that is the only war that matters, as it is probably the last one we won. He said Korea doesn’t count. Anyway, he went on to rattle off a list of older driver habits that are allowed by the police because – well, Hitler never got into the US. Yes, I swear this is his logic. Anyway, brace yourself; here is his list of senior citizen driving habits that he believes should never be ticketed:
Making a left turn from the right lane.
Coming to a Full Stop at a Green Light
Straddling lanes and/or drifting from one lane to another.
When making a right turn, swinging a car out as far to the left as possible first so other cars on the road have to swerve to avoid rear end collisions. (this resembles a turn made by a horse and buggy – you know their first car)
Going 15 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, and a related infraction: Insisting on driving the left lane on a highway when their speedometers rarely get above 45 MPH.
Taking the quickest route to order fast food even if that route happens to be through the front window of the restaurant.
Even if they own an E-Z Pass transponder, they still stop at the toll booth just to piss off the other E-Z pass owners behind them.
I had to stare at my neighbor in disbelief because first, he put a lot of thought into this list, and secondly, he found no problem with any part of this list. After talking with my neighbor I now have a better understanding of the over 75 driving crowd, and while I might not ever understand them, I do fear them and maybe that is all they wanted anyway.