I have been driving cars for eighty-one years since I was one year old and have never had an accident. Three times cars I owned were in accidents but they were legally parked then hit. My first driving experiences would now be considered super illegal but back in 1936 when I was one year old my father let me stand on his lap and steer the family’s model A Ford. During WWII, in 1945 when I was nine years old and my draftable uncles were off to war and only my youngest uncle was left to work, I was driving the family Caterpillar tractor towing equipment thru the orchards while that uncle and my granddad were spraying fruit trees.
Here in Bend, Oregon, seven decades later I’m still driving but the challenges are getting more pronounced. Perhaps it is because the cars are more reliable and there are many more safety controls on the highways and street corners that there are fewer fatalities per mile. However, the drivers are now much worse in the sense that they disobey the posted speed limits and regulatory signs. Posted at 25 MPH now routinely means 35 and sometimes 45. Stop signs are no longer full stops and not even a rolling 5 MPH and I see people often going maybe 15 MPH through STOP signs.
I mention this because I was driving 25 MPH along a residential street with STOP signs to my sides following at a reasonable two car lengths when a guy in a new car came thru his STOP sign in-between me and that car I was following rather close. I abruptly came to a full stop with my fender about two feet short of his path. Okay, he had now stopped and his fender was about a foot from where mine would have been if I had proceeded normally. I was glad I had stopped because if I hadn’t and he had come another foot forward we would have hit at some 25 MPH. Since I had the right of way I proceeded after about half a second delay. No big deal I thought, but what do you suppose this guy did?
He gets behind me and turns on his high beam lights and follows me for two blocks and then turns off onto another street. What am I supposed to think? Was he off to the hospital and in a super hurry? Or were his high beams a signal that I had somehow violated his space and he was doing some kind of I’ll show you, light-weight revenge. Of course, I will never know but almost every time I drive the mile to downtown I observe some kind of strange and dangerous behavior. Rarely does it involve me, but I see things that other people are doing.
Our modern America seems to be going through a transition.