If you’re like me, there’s hardly a day that goes by when I nearly lose the front end of my car to a driver who apparently doesn’t know the meaning of the term square your turn. We have one particular T-intersection I frequent where there is a lane for left and right turns onto the cross street and one small lane for turning onto the connected street. Much of the traffic at this intersection consists of cars making left turns from the through street onto the connected street. When departing the connected street for a left turn onto the through street, I frequently must stay short of the intersection to keep from having other cars sheer off my front end because they insist on turning across the left turn lane I’m trying to use. If I’m not already occupying the left turn lane, I have never seen another driver make that turn without crossing into the opposing left turn lane.
Many years ago, I went through general aviation flight training and received my private pilot’s license. Once you receive your pilot’s license in the United States, it has no expiration date. However, in order to fly, every 2 years you must get a medical check up and you must demonstrate to an examiner that you can still fly safely and by the rules. Driving a motor vehicle on the ground is not nearly as complex as flying an aircraft, but it can be just as deadly if a driver doesn’t drive safely or follow the rules of the road. Because of the safety factor involved, you would think that licensing for driving a motor vehicles would involve making sure that drivers can continue to drive safely. This is not the case, at least not in California.
When was the last time you had to take a test about the rules of the road in order to renew your driver’s license? I got my first driver’s license when I was 16 years old. I believe at the time I took the written test, the test had 10 questions. Considering that was 40 years ago, I’m surprised I can remember taking the test. Since I have had a good driving record during my 40 years of driving, each time my driver’s license comes up for renewal, the only thing I have to do to renew my license is to pay a fee to the California DMV. Bingo! I get my new license and I’m good for another 5 years. The number of times I’ve had to prove that I can still operate a motor vehicle safely and by the rules? Zero.
This explains why when I’m driving a freeway on ramp, intending to accelerate to freeway speed by the time I reach the lane I need to merge into on the freeway, I am frequently blocked by a car ahead of me that does not know the proper use of a freeway on ramp. For a freeway with a speed limit of 65 MPH, it is not uncommon for me to be behind a car that is driving in the neighborhood of 40 MPH until they merge into the freeway right lane, and then they speed up. As much as I would like to curse these drivers, it has occurred to me that DMV licensing requirements have created this situation where so many drivers really don’t know what the rules are anymore.
A similar aggravation is the car that drives slower than the flow of traffic while traveling in the far left lane. These drivers have no clue that, on the freeway, there is a law that says slower traffic must stay to the right. I wonder how long it has been since any of these drivers had to look at the rules of the road?
As long as we stay under the radar, the DMV doesn’t care whether we know the rules of the road. All they care about is receiving a license fee. I have to keep reminding myself of this every day that I drive, when the car ahead of me causes my blood pressure to rise just a bit.