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DC or Bust (or, how a bitch creates a law)

I don’t know the first thing about our local politics (well, I know who the mayor is, but beyond that? Meh.), but I know people who know people and they have people. And I have an idea that I’m going to push and work tirelessly for in order to make sure my bill becomes law.

In Southern California it’s hard to get around unless you own a car. Our public transportation system kind of blows. Yeah, we have buses, but not enough. We sort of have subways, but they only go about 5 miles in one direction then you have to get off, and get on another that goes in another direction. Kinda pointless. This is a car culture, baby! We love our cars. Every year there are about 1.5 million new cars (about 9% of the total market) sold in California. And every morning, I commute to work with about 1.2 million of them. And every morning, when I get to work and realize that I am not only still alive but unscathed, I get down on my knees and kiss the ground in gratitude.

For a culture that spends so much time in our cars you’d think we’d be better drivers. Not so much. We suck.

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The experience of driving a typical L.A. freeway is to be terrorized by an entire population of people driving 1990 Honda Civics and 2006 Toyota Prius’ racing each other, trying to break the land speed record on their way to Starbucks. I’m an aggressive driver, but I think it’s more out of necessity than psychosis. I don’t willfully and purposefully cut people off, tailgate a quarter inch off someone’s bumper, change lanes without looking, apply makeup while piloting a one-ton SUV at 90 mph, while talking on my cell phone and texting on my Blackberry with 6 screaming kids watching DVDs in the backseat. I have been known, however, to extend a salute with my lovely, manicured middle finger out of my adorable little topless convertible to thankyoumverymuchforbeingatupidbitchnowgetoffmyass.

And I never commit my personal pet peeve—lazy lane changes. In the last couple of years I’ve noticed that fewer people actually execute a proper lane change—you know, signal, look, wait until it’s clear, slow down if necessary until you can move. Instead, they rush up to your bumper as fast as they can and then…lacksidasically…turn the wheel Ever. So. Slightly. to get into the adjacent lane, but not before giving you a heart attack thinking they’re about to take your rear bumper with them, sending you careening into oncoming traffic. It happens to me every single day.

I don’t know what the laws are across the country, but I know that here in California the only time you actually take a physical driving test is if you are between the ages of 16 and 18 and are applying for your license for the first time or if you’re over the age of 80. That’s it. Otherwise, you take a written exam every other time that your license comes up for renewal. If you get your license after the age of 18, you don’t have to drive around doing three-point turns or parallel parking. You just take the written test, they hand you a slip of paper and off you go, free to commit random acts of terror behind the wheel.

A couple of years ago, I had to go DMV to take my written test. While I was waiting my turn, I heard them paging my license plate number over the loudspeaker. Turns out this stupid 16-year-old, who was parked next to me, went to back out of the space to take her driver’s test and took out the whole side of my Tahoe. In spite of my total temper tantrum, they let her take the driving test anyway. I think that should have been an automatic fail. Instead? DMV=FAIL.

So here’s what I propose. Every three or four years, or however often it is that your driver’s license comes up for renewal, we should ALL have to retake the actual driving portion of the test. And not just up and down a city block. They should make you drive in real-world situations—morning traffic, in front of a school getting out for the day, in a parking lot (please, don’t even get me started on this one. Parking lot does not equal speedway. Slow down, you fuckers.) This will weed out the weak, the bad and the stupid. I guarantee it. If you fail, you have to retake driver’s ed. Then you can try again in a month.

And not only will this get all the morons out of their cars and onto buses where they belong, it’ll pour money back into the California economy. California can take a cut of the driving school fees, plus any additional fees for the driving tests. I’m not great at math but 1.5 million cars at about $20 a person is a lot of money.

I think I’m going to write to my congressman.

I just need to figure out who that is.

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9 Responses

  1. As someone who almost died three times on the way to work today due to people CHANGING LANES WITH THE EYES CLOSED, I totally feel what you’re saying here!

    However, as someone who does make proper lane changes and tries to be respective on the road and blah blah until someones tries to kill me (SEE ABOVE) the idea of having to retake an actual driver’s test because of all the other fucktards dooooes make me kind of want to kill myself. I love the theory and just think maybe we need some kind of a punishment system for determing this!!

    Like, if you’ve gotten a ticket – for sure, you must get your ass to the driving test! And maybe we need some kinda Bad Drivers Abuse Report Hotline…or maybe a website where we can report the fucktards and their plates and if you’re reported…get your ass to the driving test!! Obviously these systems have flaws (like I will report anyone who pisses me off, even if it’s just Joe Schmoe I work with and have never actually seen drive anywhere)……but I must keep thinking it through. There has to be a way!!

  2. I live in Florida. Nuff said. We’re constantly trying to get the snowbirds to get their eyes checked! This would remove half our driving population, but it would be worth it.

  3. Kendel: Done!

    Sprite’s Keeper: My parents live in the Palm Springs area, which is the West Coast equivalent of Florida and I’m terrified when I’m driving out there. I’m grateful that my parents can still drive, but my dad just turned 80 and they did the eye test and the written test and that’s it. He’s a decent driver (by Snowbird standards) but it’s scary that there’s a whole population of people out there who shouldn’t be behind the wheel.

    Lesley: There should definitely be some stuff built into the bill for who has to take the test and when. Since it’s my bill, I shouldn’t have to take the test. And neither should my friends or family! I like the idea of a reporting system, too.

  4. Um, Mo, standards for drivers licenses are decided by the state, not the Congress: You need to find out who your state representative is.

    Sorry to be smarty-pants. (Okay, not really.)

    Anyway, would we really want Congress involved? I’m still pissed they raised the drinking age lo those many years ago—and I just made the cutoff!

  5. My husband corrected me on that one too. He even told me who my representative is (I’m glad one of us knows this stuff).

    Honestly, I think we need less government, not more, but until I find a better way to regulate dumb asses, I have to work within the system.

  6. If you’re REALLY serious about weeding out bad drivers—and you want less government—you could argue in favor of a plan withdrawing all traffic police/regulations and letting drivers turn I-5 into a state-long drag-racing strip.

    Yeah, a few days or weeks of that, and these bad drivers will have been, ah, selected out.

    That’d work, wouldn’t it? I mean, except for all the death and destruction.

    Anything to avoid another driving test. . . .

  7. Mo: Awesome! Since both of us automatically don’t have to take the test, I therefore deem the bill perfect as is and no more measures are needed! Let’s march on the state capitol!

    Absurdbeats: Brilliant! Except that I do sometimes think I-5 is ALREADY a state long drag-racing strip. *gulp*

  8. Funny that you wrote this blog, I was going to do one on how to tell a person is an asshole from their driving.

  9. I would go a lot further than this and say everyone who wants to drive needs to be a professional driver. At least 2 years of intensive driver training for a very hefty fee before getting licensed and any serious infraction is an automatic suspension of licence. This would take a whole bunch of cars off the road and allow and force more public transportation, reduce traffic fatalities (which kill more people than anything else). There’s no reason why we need so many damn cars. It’s grotesque both from an environmental perspective, an overconsumption of resources perspective and from a mortality perspective.

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