Slipping into the Blog vein (Grief, that sounds heinous.) Anyway,
My VA FNP ( New Provider, Nurse Practictioner, Family registered nurse with a master's degree) checked a special box on my license renewal form and told the Drivers License Division that I needed a driver's road test to renew my license. I might be dangerous.
Well I do have chronic stress disorder mixed thoroughly with occasional dark depression. Having to take a road test just lifted my adreneline factor to max plus 10. No way out. I had to take the test; and I honestly didn't know if I could pass a drivers test. Were my eyes still good enough to drive without glasses? Could I still parallel park? I felt pretty anxious.
Got a PDF test manual online in case the road test included some written questions. Studying that book was actually a good thing. I asked my tester if he were writing an article for older drivers with stress disorder what would he write you? He wanted to remind you
WATCH OUT FOR THAT EIGHTEEN WHEELER!
- He can't steer as well as you can.
- You can stop in about three quarters of a football field: 75 yards at 65. It takes him a football field and a half. Twice as far. He likely weighs about 78,000 pounds more than you. He may not want to hit you, but if you get too close ---
- He can't see as well as you can! He has huge blind spots. Nothing can change that. (Well, maybe TV...) You gotta stay out of those blind spots or expect road damage. The way you tell where the blind spots are: If you can't see the big rig driver's face in his mirrors, he can't see your car.
Yeah, It's really that important.
On with the manual: Here's what it says on the third page...
THE TOP FIVE REASONS PEOPLE DIE ON UTAH HIGHWAYS
Speed too fast 19.0%
Other improper driving 13.9%
Improper look out 9.6%
Driving under the influence 8.8%
Fatigue or asleep 8.8%
THE TOP FIVE REASONS PEOPLE CRASH ON UTAH HIGHWAYS
Improper lookout 24.4%
Following too closely 13.7%
Failure to yield right-of-way 13.6%
Speed too fast 10.4%
Other improper driving 8.9%
THE TOP FIVE REASONS TEENAGERS DIE ON UTAH HIGHWAYS
Speed too fast 23.6%
Other improper driving 16.4%
Drove left of center 12.7%
Improper lookout 9.1%
Fatigue or asleep 9.1%
Failed to yield right-of-way 9.1%
THE TOP FIVE REASONS TEENAGERS CRASH ON UTAH HIGHWAYS
Improper lookout 26.1%
Failed to yield right-of-way 15.5%
Following too closely 15.2%
Speed too fast 11.4%
Other improper driving 8.3%
Fascinating to me that sleep and fatigue kill as many drivers as alcohol. Interesting. Do they have a urine test to see if you are sleepy?
So I finally hit the big day and went to the Drivers Licence Division just off 8th North in Orem, about 200 yards west of I-15, the Veterans Memorial Highway.
I had a 9 am appointment and I didn't have to wait 2 minutes before I was served by road tester, Officer Ray Newbury. I quickly learned that Officer Newbury had taught drivers education for twenty-six years and coached football at Springville High School. He reassured me that the once serious drug scene at the High School had quieted down, with far fewer arrests and drug overdoses.
My road test was the best example I've ever experienced where the test was the ultimate learning experience. Officer Newbury used every opportunity to assure that I knew the skill, not so he could dock me, but so I would remember the skill and use it!
I learned that the biggest issue with older drivers like me is they want things to be like they used to be. Not gonna happen. Older guys can't understand why younger drivers flip him off for not moving right for faster traffic. The older driver must adapt to changing driving conditions. Slower traffic must move right. That's the law.
Tailgating is one of the most dangerous habits a driver can form. Nam vets, listen up. Just cause some drivers have been intimidating other drivers by following too closely... that doesn't mean to keep on doing it. Sooner or later accidents happen when drivers follow too close.
Any old dog can learn a new trick if he wants to. You have want to learn to be safer on the highways: You can avoid rear end collisions (That your insurance is going to have to pay,) by leaving two seconds between you and the car in front. If you don't know how to calculate this space, ask a teenager. They know everything.
What are the steps of making a safe lane change and turn?
We were all taught to turn on the signal, check the mirrors, then make the turn. Not safe. What we need to do is
- turn on the signal,
- glance in the mirrors,
- TURN YOUR HEAD AROUND FAR ENOUGH TO LOOK THROUGH THE BACK DOOR WINDOWS,
- then safely make the turn.
That turning your head around is vital, and quickly becomes habit. It really makes a difference. Thank you Officer Newbury. I learned some really useful habits from you.
By the way, Officer Newbury said I was a good driver and gave me a whopping 94%. Imagine getting SIX RIGHT. Thanks to everyone at the Drivers License Division for being so kind and considerate. Not like I remember the DMV back east where getting a license was like doing battle with cranky morons.