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  • Writer's pictureFern

Cars and Trucks and Things that Drive Me Crazy

When my son was little, Richard Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” was his favorite book and bedtime was often a wild ride through the bright colorful pages. Each large format page was filled with every color and type of vehicle one could imagine, and some that no one could, except for small boys with an excess of imagination; all the vehicles were driven by cute little animals. Recently, I was reminded of that beloved book as I drove down the NYS Thruway. More to the point, I was reminded of how irritated I get at what I term Cars And Trucks and Drivers That Drive Me Crazy. Did they take Drivers Ed? Did they read the Drivers Manual? Did they learn to drive on some distant planet where they make up their own rules? My downstate trips are infrequent, and I have way less patience with the crazy drivers on the open road. What happened to: Keep to the Right? Pass on the Left? What about the left lane hoggers who refuse to move over? The lane dodgers and weavers? Has the rule book been tossed aside, outdated? As I child I’d heard my dad shouting out his car window more than once at an unwitting driver, “Where’d you get your license, Sears and Roebuck?” Years later he’d be forced to mask his apprehension at letting me, his youngest daughter, behind the wheel for driving lessons. He started out patiently each time, but mostly the lesson ended with: “Your other right!” “Signal! Signal!” “Brake! Now! Step on the GD brake I said!” Yet the road safety factors that he drilled into me are indelible: Use your signals Keep to the right except to pass. Never pass on the right Maintain a car length behind the car in front of you by one car length for every ten miles an hour.

I failed my first test. The MV test guy took me under the elevated train on narrow Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, the train rattling overhead, then instructed me to park under there as well. After many maneuvers to park the 1961 Rambler, he opened the door, looked down, back at me and said, “Did you want me to walk to the curb?” A shame he wasn’t around some years later when I wedged my Honda Civic into an itty bitty space on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village. Unbeknownst to me, three men were watching from the opposite sidewalk. when I got out, they clapped.

But back to the NYS Thruway. Imagine my chagrin in researching the current NYS Drivers Manual and, specifically, what it states on pages 38-39. How to Pass on the Right: Although you normally pass other vehicles on the left, some situations allow you to pass on the right… “Before you pass on the right on multi-lane roads like expressways, make sure you check your mirrors, use the correct signals for the lane change and look over your right shoulder for other vehicles. After you pass, make sure to quickly look over your left shoulder and signal before you return to the left lane.

Hmmm, live and learn.

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