Monday, April 5, 2010

Drivin' my life away (in more ways than one)

Recently a new series (if you can call it that) appeared on the Travel Channel, called "America's Worst Driver."  It's actually a series of competitions in various major cities (so far I can recall San Francisco, Boston and Chicago, and this week's episode was to feature Miami, but we haven't watched yet) wherein people actually nominate friends, relatives or other loved ones as someone who legitimately contends to be that city's worst driver.  There's every possibility that the whole thing is contrived, and what's worse, the "competition" that takes place consists of tasks that GOOD drivers would find difficult or more.

Anyway, I mention this because my work status changed and I'm doing more traveling by car than plane these days, which takes me back to how things were until about 2005.  But as adept and almost anesthetized as I became about air travel (still am, since I can't control any of it, it's just as well), there's no time or room for that when you're driving.

Here's an example.  On a trip several weeks ago I had a choice to driving to my destination through Knoxville, Tennessee or taking what appeared to be a shortcut through parts of southeastern Kentucky and northeastern Tennessee, so I opted for the shortcut.  Problem is, I passed through a smallish town in Tennessee (remember the credo of this blog, no names) and lo and behold, I was awarded a remotely issues speeding ticket for my trouble as I passed through this burg.  Turns out that the city fathers invested in a camera system that's monitored somewhere in Arizona, and it "detected" me driving faster than the poorly posted speed limit.  Honestly, I recognized I had entered the proverbial congested area and felt that the speed limit should be lower, and at the first point where I noted a sign indicating a lessened speed limit, I complied and slowed down....but, of course, I got ticketed for how fast I was driving BEFORE that.

Anyway, to make a long story longer (as my mom used to say), the increased driving and this show about bad drivers has made me keenly aware of what happens on the streets and roads.  Rolling stops....incessant cellphone usage (honestly, is there anything worse for traffic safety than unlimited cellphone plans?)....lack of turn signals for turns or highway lane changes.....women applying makeup (!)....and the list goes on.

It's not a recent example by any means but my wife and I were traveling to Colorado by car once to visit our daughter and her family, and we actually came upon someone on I-70 READING A BOOK WHILE DRIVING.

As I write this my wife and I have just completed a Lexington-to-Cincinnati-to-Henderson/Morganfield, KY trip starting Friday morning.  Saw a lot of what I described above.  People asleep in the left lane.  People who stopped nearly dead in the street attempting to decide where to go next.  People blocking traffic in a mall parking lot to get our primo parking space a full five minutes before we were ready to leave (if you shop and buy a few things, you have to take the time to arrange your stuff before you take off, right?).

But we're here, safe and sound, so either we were very lucky over all of those miles or I'm an excellent driver.  Either way, I have a trip to Arkansas for business this week, and I'm actually kind of glad that most of it will be in the air.

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