Put The Fun Back In Driving


I had the thought yesterday that I should have planned differently. We are back from our quick impromptu vacation to New York and Canada, but I didn’t carve out the time to rest for a couple of days before I go back to work. I guess you could say I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. I haven’t kept up with email (both work related and personal) for the past week and I’ve given myself permission to think it was justified.


For one thing, there are signs all over the state of New York indicating that three violations of texting while driving will result in loss of one’s driver’s license. In addition to those signs, there is also ample signage stating: “IT CAN WAIT – TEXT STOP 5 MILES”. I had the thought, “We need the same kind of texting zones in Texas”. It would be pretty convenient to know that in 5 minutes a texting zone would be available.”


First, let me say I am pretty much a strict constructionist when it comes to refraining from driving while texting. That’s not to say I won’t pick up the phone, press the button down and ask Siri to initiate a telephone call for me. While I tell myself if I were traveling with someone else, we’d be engaged in conversation, I’ve also have had the experience of driving passed an intersection where I intended to turn while I was engaged in a hands-free telephone conversation.


I smiled as I had the passing thought: “If New York really wanted to eliminate any kind of distracted driving, they could have the General cloned and place a look alike in any vehicle that moves”. At no time while we were traveling was I even tempted to look at my phone even to ascertain the time. To say the General has no tolerance for any leniency in this area is an understatement. I was in enough trouble for having momentarily dozed off behind the wheel on Thursday. That in and of itself was enough for her to authoritatively tell me we were done with traveling anywhere that required me to drive more than one hour at a time. It was really a cheap shot to suggest we had reached the age where a tour bus was our only option.


I had the good sense not to verbalize, “This may be our last road trip, but I’ve got miles to go before I’m calling it quits.” That, too, would have been like pouring gasoline on a fire. Besides that, I know that if I go, she goes. That’s just the way we roll regardless of whose driving. Just for the record, that generally means me. She doesn’t like to drive. That is particularly true if the road is not familiar.


I can truthfully say that I prefer to drive rather than ride with her. If I’m awake when she’s driving, it scares the daylights out of me. She is like a little ole lady behind the wheel. Arms at her side, shoulders rested and focused solely on the road in front of her. She has no cognitive awareness of anything taking place in her peripheral vision. She has no peripheral vision. Her focus is always solely on the road ahead. To her credit, she’s only had one speeding ticket in her life and that is when she was passing another vehicle on a two-lane road. She has never had a traffic accident.


To my credit, I have enough sense not to make a true confession. Let’s just say that I’ve taken defensive driving enough that I could teach the course. Anyway you cut it, 6 hours of defensive driving is too long even if it is the comedy version and includes fresh pizza.

Do you remember back in the day when the biggest threat to travel by automobile related to folks who were driving while intoxicated? I’ve known folks who didn’t survive that kind of experience. I’ve also known folks who were responsible for prematurely ending someone else’s life due to their lack of responsible behavior.


The travesty of driving while intoxicated has been replaced by the higher threat of those who text while driving. It falls into the broader category of distracted driving. It is deadly.


Reportedly the State of New York has done a good job in decreasing the threat. Between 2012 and 2013, there was a 365% increase in the number of tickets issued in the summer months for distracted driving. In 2013, 21,580 tickets were issued in the summer compared to 5,208 tickets the previous summer. In addition, the State has stepped up measures to detect those who violate the expectations.


The provision of ample zones designated for texting has also been a big factor in decreasing the threat. Most folks reason that they can wait at least five minutes to return a text. Consequently, why take the risk of jeopardizing your license when you can wait five minutes and find a place of safety from which to text?  Better yet, why  jeopardize your life of the life of another?


Trust me, if a clone of the General were possible, I can guarantee you a 100% reduction in distracted driving related to texting. If the need existed, she’d carry a big ruler and use it rap the offender’s knuckles. That would be followed by lecture #1943 that would make the offender resolve on a stack of Bibles that they would never be guilty of the offense ever again.


Like I said, the General is effective and she is a strict constructionist in every sense of that term. I respect and applaud her efforts in that regard. Consequently, I had a thought late yesterday afternoon that might potentially solve the problem of distracted driving via my falling asleep. Generally, a large cup of ice from Sonic has always done the trick. Unfortunately, Sonic ice is not always available as I discovered earlier last week.


My neighbors stopped by yesterday to retrieve their vehicle where it is stored in my garage. They still have my truck. At any rate, when they returned with the top down and grinning from ear to ear, it hit me. One way to put excitement back in driving is to own a convertible with a five-speed manual transmission. It would be put fun and excitement back in driving and my adrenaline level would be topping the highest end of the chart. Who could fall asleep under those conditions?” No one could fall to sleep under those conditions. I’m not sure I have the skills to sell the General on that plan, but I’m going to give it my college best.


All My Best!



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