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Growing Up – End of Part One.

Last week I finally got my driver’s license. After three months of pretty intensive training I managed to pass the practical driving test without any major errors, which was a great weight being lifted off my shoulders. I was as nervous as I’ve only been during my oral exams at college, but I managed to pull through. Had I failed, I would have had to wait until at least August, way behind schedule. Being that I’m already 18 years overdue getting my driver’s license, you can say that I’m already a pretty long way behind schedule, but my goal has been to get it before Anniken gives birth, meaning that I managed to finish well in time.

Yay for that! I also feel the need to mention that passed my theoretical driving test, too, in 11 minutes with 0 errors. You have 90 minutes to finish it with a maximum of 7 errors, so I’m pretty damn pleased with that result. So, now that I can legally drive around in a 1500 kg killing machine, which does a great job draining my wallet and does its fair share in fucking up the environment, do I spend most of the day behind the wheel with a massive grin on my face?

You probably saw this one coming; but not really, no.

I’d lie if I said I’m enjoying driving. Yes, it’s very practical. We live in a pretty rural area and while walking to the store is theoretically possible, it’s hardly convenient. Also, carrying Anniken on my back to the maternity ward wouldn’t work out very well. But driving a car stresses me out. It’s getting better, and it will probably get even better with time and practice, but as it is right now I’d much rather be a passenger than drive. Of course, Anniken can’t comprehend this, she loved to drive from the minute she was allowed to. Maybe it’s because I’m an old fart, I don’t know.

During my short career as a certified driver, I’ve noticed a couple of interesting things about traffic and other drivers:

Speed limits

Speed limits are merely speed guidelines. Going at least 10 km/h above the speed limit is expected of you. This is true in particular if you know the roads you are driving on, no matter how winding and tangled they are. Or if you drive an Audi. If you both know the roads and drive and Audi, you are expected to drive at least 20 km/h above the speed limit guideline. Because, since you know the roads, you also know that there isn’t a car stopped on the shoulder around the bend, right? Right.

Tailgating

Keeping a safe distance to the car in front of you isn’t strictly necessary. The idea seems to be that the closer the cars are to each other, the more cars we can fit on the road and the more cars we fit on the road, the better the world will be. Also, if the driver in front of you is able to see the color of your eyes in his rear view mirror, you win a price. Don’t mind that if I have to hit the breaks hard for some reason (perhaps there actually was a car parked on the shoulder around the bend), you’ll crash into me. I hurt my neck. Both our cars get damaged. We crash into the parked car. The fuel tank in my car bursts into flames. We all die.

Please don’t tailgate. If you do, then fuck you. From the bottom of my honest heart, go fuck yourself.

Overtaking

Overtaking can be done everywhere. Never mind that there’s a huge road train coming towards you in the oncoming lane, or that you’re overtaking in a blind curve. You should still do everything you can to overtake. The reason for this is that by overtaking every single car on the road, you’ll save hours on your trip time. A single overtake means at least 10 minutes saved. If you’re reckless enough, you’ll even move back in time arriving at your destination before you left home. I shit you not.

Or, actually, I do. But you might save a little time, of course. At least until you have to stop at a red light and the car you overtook a while back pulls up behind you. Now you’ve saved a car length. Congratulations with that, great achievement. Pat yourself on the back.

Respecting inexperienced drivers

If you see a car marked with a big, bright red “L” or a massive sign that says “school”, you should drive as close to it as you possibly can. This doesn’t, in any way, make the inexperienced driver in the car nervous or uncomfortable, it’s the only right thing to do. If possible, you should also flip off the student driver. That will make him or her feel comfortable, no doubt.

Even though you were probably The Undisputed Champion of the Road the first time down you got behind the wheel, some of us need a little bit of time and practice to get there. Please give us that opportunity.

In summary

Speed is the common denominator in all these observations. If you’re not able to – or willing to – keep the same speed as the reckless drivers in the road, there will be tailgating and hazardous overtaking. As a student driver, you’re usually driving a little slower than the rest of the traffic. That’s why that bright, capital “L” is on the car. It’s there to inform other drivers to keep their calm, things might go a bit slower than usual, but it’ll be over soon. Take a deep breath. Relax. Respect the “L”.

If you’re not a student driver, but one of those annoying drivers who feel the speed limits are probably there for a good reason and try to actually keep them – like me – you’ll also get tailgating and hazardous overtaking because a lot of you idiots don’t believe in speed limits. And in this case, the speed limit actually has the complete opposite effect of what it should. Instead of making driving safer, it gets more dangerous. Quite the paradox right there.

It’s a complicated dilemma. I’d like to keep the speed limit, but by doing so I potentially create dangerous situations because you tailgate and overtake where you shouldn’t. Should I try to prevent this by braking the law, putting myself, my fellow motorists and my precious passengers in potential danger by going considerably over the speed limit? Or should I keep the speed limit and let you decide for yourself if you want to make driving more dangerous for everyone else or not?

I think I just answered my own question.

If you see me out there, keeping the speed limit, please take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll get to your destination. Perhaps a minute or two later than you theoretically could, but you’ll get there. And less likely to kill yourself or someone else on the way.

In short: Keep calm and stay alive.

You might have noticed the “end of part one” in the title of this entry. The reason is that I’m still one achievement short in life to qualify as an adult. Exactly what we’ll get back to later.

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