By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
Here is today’s safe driving question:
If you are approaching the stop sign in front of my house, do you: (a) stop, (b) slow down to the posted speed limit, look to see if a cop is parked on the corner and breeze past or (c) pretend you are at the finish line in the Indianapolis 500 and blow right through?
If you answered either (b) or (c), you are part of the vast majority of vehicular maniacs who menace my neighborhood and deserve not only to get a ticket but to have the accelerator shoved up your nose.
You also should take an online refresher course so you will be a better driver and, ideally, not obliterate my car as I am backing out of the driveway.
I am proud, happy and really fatigued to say that I recently took a six-hour safe driving course sponsored by AARP, which wants older motorists such as yours truly to be more aware of the rules of the road, to compensate for diminished physical and mental skills and — this is most important — to stop driving 20 miles per hour in the left lane of a highway with their blinkers on.
As a person who always puts safety first, I took the course for a vital and selfless reason: to get a discount on my car insurance.
After logging in to the AARP Smart Driver Online Course and paying the $25 fee, I was introduced to two nice instructors named Joe and Maria, who would be guiding me through the class and giving me quizzes at the end of the half-dozen sections.
It was like taking driver’s ed in high school except that I didn’t actually have to drive and give the teacher a heart attack while accidentally flooring it and jumping the curb as I pulled out of the parking lot.
The first thing I learned is that I probably should let somebody else drive. That’s because I am 65 years old and, according to Joe and Maria, who look to be 45, no longer have the reflexes, dexterity and keen eyesight of 25-year-olds. I must admit that they are far better equipped to speed, weave in and out of traffic, run red lights and give one-finger salutes while texting, playing video games, drinking steaming hot coffee or — and this takes special skill — applying eyeliner.
Maybe they shouldn’t be driving, either.
But I was encouraged because Joe and Maria told me that I could sharpen my skills and continue to be a safe driver if I remembered the valuable lessons taught in the course. They included approaching intersections, merging into traffic, knowing the effects of prescription medication, preparing for trips and checking the tires, though not while the car is moving.
In extreme circumstances, they strongly implied, I should just pull over and get the hell out of the way.
Joe and Maria have never driven with me, but I appreciated their confidence.
It turned out that I still know a lot about safe driving because I aced all the quizzes. And I picked up some important tips, like avoiding drivers who are going either too fast or too slow. Joe and Maria didn’t state the obvious, but that includes everybody else.
Nonetheless, I am glad I took the course, which I did over several evenings. I would encourage all drivers of AARP age to take it, too.
In fact, now that I have graduated, motor cum laude, I am volunteering to join Joe and Maria as an instructor.
If I could only get all those idiots to stop blowing through the stop sign in front of my house, I’d feel a lot safer.
Copyright 2019 by Jerry Zezima