Many times over the past few weeks I have had the misfortune of driving past Shelton High School’s Constitution Blvd. driveway during dismissal time.
I do not know why I thought driving this way would be a great idea since teenagers are not exactly known for their great driving. It would probably be safe to say that I never even realized it was dismissal time given that I have not actually stepped foot in the school in a few years.
Regardless, one would think the initial bad experience of being surrounded by hundreds of inexperienced drivers at once would deter me from making the same trip several times in such a small timeframe.
It did not, but don’t worry – I inwardly cursed myself out each time as soon as I realized which way I had gone. Unfortunately by the time this realization came, it was too late to turn around and go a different route.
Each day, there were many students who did not appear to know what the purpose of a stop sign in. Even when there were several cars coming up or down the street, these individuals hardly braked before peeling out of the parking lot like they were auditioning for NASCAR.
I myself was unlucky enough to be caught in front of a student who clearly fell asleep the day they taught the three second rule in driver’s ed. Not only did this student tail me down the entire stretch of Independence Drive, once they also had to swerve quite suddenly at the stop sign for what I can only assume was to avoid rear-ending me.
I was a new driver once too. I remember how awesome it was to finally have the spiffy piece of plastic that said you are allowed to drive by yourself, which was pretty much the same as being an adult. I also remember how freeing it was to not have my mother sitting in the passenger seat gripping the seat and door for dear life as if I was going to careen off of a giant cliff at any moment.
But I was definitely no expert on driving then. Heck, I wouldn’t even consider myself to be an expert on all things driving now, nor is anyone else when you think about it. No, not even those stuffy DMV inspectors who administer the tests could be considered experts. However, several years of driving have given me some insights that they tend to not emphasize once you’re all licensed up.
Slow Down. This is probably the most emphasized lesson in driver’s education, yet it is the first thing that goes right out the window once that license is in hand. Yeah, I know, everyone is in a hurry and no one drives the speed limit. But there is a huge difference between going 35 in a 25 and going 60 in a 25. Leave earlier, make your plans later, remove lead from foot and then drive. Whatever, just slow down a bit.
As silly as the three second rule is, it is pretty helpful. I mean, do you really want to slam your parents’ car into someone’s rear bumper because you were too close to stop when they do so suddenly? The whole counting three seconds every now and again is annoying, sure, but do it enough and the distance is easy to judge just by sight.
Stop signs are not, nor have they ever been, merely a suggestion. When you see a big red octagon sign with the word “stop” printed on it that is precisely what one needs to do. It is better than rolling through and slamming right into someone coming down the street who doesn’t have to stop.
They might be straightforward and seemingly obvious pointers, but adhering to the basic rules of the road makes driving safer for everyone.