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Could We Just Drive, Please?
by p.l. frank

Road Rage is big news and there are a lot of theories out there as to why it has become so pervasive these days. Increased stress levels, sleep deprivation, poor coping skills, social isolation, and even environmental toxins have been blamed. But maybe it’s not that complicated. Perhaps some people are starting to lose it because of what so many others have started doing behind the wheel.

With few exceptions we have become a culture constantly on the move. For many people the car has become a home away from home, second office, and entertainment center all rolled into one. Unfortunately, for lots of these folks doing more than one thing at a time is more than they can handle, making the roadway a virtual nightmare for the rest of us.

If you ever wonder why the roads are causing some folks to steam with anger consider what people are doing while they are driving these days:

Reading: Are they kidding? Unbelievably, some people are actually doing full-on reading while trying to drive these days. Maps, newspapers, magazines, even books are being propped-up against steering wheels as people attempt to drive. The last time I checked both driving and reading required full concentration and visual focus. So which activity are these people deciding to let slide? Uh, to all those compulsively busy nitwits perusing periodicals on the freeways, the pharmacy just called. Your prescription for Prozac is ready.

Grooming: This is enough to send an enraged Road Warrior right over the edge. In order to sleep an extra half-hour people are using the rearview mirror to apply their makeup, use battery-powered curling irons, style their hair, and even shave while trying to drive. Some people claim they can complete their entire grooming routine during the morning rush hour. (Although doing it well is another matter.) Changing clothes, applying deodorant, nail polishing, even tooth-brushing are being done now as drivers wield around three thousand pounds of metal at 65 mph. If you start to go bonkers driving behind one of these nuts, just honk your horn, stay cool, and be glad no one has come up with porta-potties for the car yet.

Eating: This cannot be said often enough....if you cannot wait until you are out of your car to eat, something is wrong with your ability to plan. Health issues aside, Whoppers and Burritos Supreme were not meant to eat with one hand without seeing what you are doing. This leads to the following conclusion: if you are not wearing your food then you are not paying attention to your driving.

Shouldn’t there be some sort of competency test for this? Maybe the DMV could follow behind these people while someone else calls to say they have just been fired or their significant other has just been spotted cheating. If they break their speed or veer into another lane, the telephone is out.

Entertainment: People spend so much time in their cars nowadays that many have turned their vehicles into a virtual entertainment center. Stereo and CD-players are one thing, but television? One car manufacturer this year has even introduced a movie screen and VCR in the front seat so that drivers can watch movies while behind the wheel. Beautiful. Just what we need. Hello. People watch television and movies to escape reality, folks. Why not just include a pipe holder and a bag of crack with every new SUV?

Sex: Uh, excuse us for interrupting, you think you could possibly wait until you get home? No? Then let us suggest a number of alternatives. Like an hourly motel, rest stop, or the nearest Taco Bell parking lot. If that’s still not exciting enough for you let us introduce you to public transportation. It’s got everything you want. There’s motion, the risk of being seen, and there’s no worry about cleaning up after yourself.

If public transportation doesn’t work for you, try keeping your mind off of sex by concentrating on driving. Focusing on the cars in front of you can work wonders. Lean into it, dude. Or stay the hell off of the freeways.

Now.....if we could just figure out a way to make driving while stupid illegal, we’d be all set.


b i o
P.L. Frank enjoys writing both nonfiction social satire and funny, thought-provoking novels.  Dr. Frank has been a researcher in the field of Behavioral and Social Sciences since 1983, and has worked as a university professor and therapist. 

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