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    South Dakota was the last State in the Union to require a driver’s license. That’s where I learned to drive. The speed limit on two-lane highways was 50 m.p.h., and the roads were pretty empty. In the winter, we put chains on our tires and slid along as best we could. As most teenagers, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of a car.

    Nowadays, it’s not unusual that young people just don’t want to learn to drive. In all fairness, if a person can’t grasp the— “Scoot your seat forward”— part, perhaps some people are really better off using Uber, until self-driving vehicles become available.

    Maneuvering through congested traffic on our overcrowded streets can be daunting,  and learning how to steer straight on hilly terrain is a challenge. In Tucson, the configuration of hills and curves is only part of the problem. Sadistic homeowners who live mid-hill in the bend of a curve, strategically place—and replace—mailboxes that knock fenders off of unsuspecting vehicles as they breeze by. That, combined with speeders, can be terrifying for new drivers. And, expressways are harrowing no matter where you live, because all of those people, in all of those cars, aren’t your friends in any stretch of the imagination.

    Old timers may miss the, “good old days” when with a flick of a buggy whip, you could have a pleasant ride to a neighbor’s house, and the worst pile-up you’d see was from an ill-bred horse. Happily, Tucson hasn’t experienced the total gridlock of cities such as Los Angeles and Washington, DC, but that’s only because our “planners” keep moving the roads. It’s not unusual for a change of pace, that the street where you work will suddenly sport a bevy of jackhammers and a sign warning, “You can’t get here from there—Wherever!”

    Sometimes streets arbitrarily change names within a few blocks or religiously cross themselves several times on their way out of town. Usually, new drivers (unless they don’t know the difference between the gas pedal and the brake) are consciously aware of the rules of the road, and are safe and careful drivers. However, the other drivers on the streets are the scary
     ones, especially if they are colorblind and don’t know the difference between red and green, or lights and brights at night.

    With the fitness craze many people keep physically fit by bicycling and jogging. Bikes present problems when riders hog the road riding together like a gaggle of geese, or wobble off of bike lanes. It’s also helpful if novice drivers know the difference between a right lane and a bike lane.

    Joggers suffer from a  lack of sidewalks, and often jog in the street. Many people who jog in the street look as if they are going to fall over, especially if they are jogging in 100 degree heat  in June. When I am driving, I pray that they won’t pick my car  for their nosedive.

    Driving can be fun, and offers a sense of freedom—-unless you drive 60 m.p.h. in a 40 m.p.h. zone. Then, when the police officer stops you and says, “Where are you going in such a hurry?” I suggest you not say, “I’m late for driving school.”  Of course, that is a pretty believable answer under the circumstance, but, as our President would say, “”Believe me, it will cost you”.

    Esther Blumenfeld

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