During a rainy week, I found myself driving almost every day. I took short trips of 1 or 2 hours, and long trips of 10 to 12 hours. I like to drive and driving through bad weather does not bother me. I drive defensively and cautiously, but I find that driving is becoming more dangerous both in the state of New Jersey and in other states. Some of the difficulties are because of roads in disrepair, but most of the difficulties are caused by us the drivers.
I was getting on the Garden State Parkway via the Keyport ramp at 117. I was in the left lane when out of nowhere, this driver cuts in front of me. I hit the brakes hard and blew my horn. He gave me the proverbial finger and sped onto the ramp. I thought I was calm and collected, only to discover three miles later that I missed my exit! He had an impact on me and his driving and greeting discombobulated me for a short time. I did not like to admit the effect he had on me, but he impacted the way I drove that day.
Later during that same trip, I found myself on Route 9 going towards Old Bridge to visit a friend in a rehab facility. As I approached the exit, two buses came from the right and forced me to slow down and move into the other lane. I could see why the first bus wanted to move (even though there was no signal and I was already in that lane), but I could not see why the second bus had to do the same. I was slightly shook-up because either the bus driver did not see me or he decided that, as the old adage goes, he was bigger and I had to move.
That weekend I was driving from Atlantic Highlands to Charleston, West Virginia. There were torrential rains and flashing signs warning of flooding on major roads throughout Maryland. On one road, my rented car became a boat and the car in front of me did too. As the cars were moving slightly on their own, a group of 10 or 15 kids from the neighborhood were playing in the floodwaters. They had no cares in the world—like all children before them, any puddle is a welcome playground.
I arrived at my destination close to midnight. I was scheduled to teach intensive classes that week from 8:30 in the morning until 5:00 p.m., so I quickly fell asleep. The next morning when I went to breakfast, I saw that my windshield has cracked from the left side to the middle. I had not seen a crack when I left the car the previous night, and there was nothing in the parking lot that could have damaged the car. It was a costly repair and I am sure that my insurance will go up because of it.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I looked forward to getting our licenses with great anticipation. We would drive any dilapidated car that would move! Having an old truck would have been even more glorious. But when I talk to the high school students in our church, I find that they are not jumping at the chance to drive because we as their parents have told them how dangerous driving has become. In fact, I habitually pray when I get into the car and my wife makes sure that our children call us when they get to their destinations.
The lessons that we learn in driving school are good. The road belongs to us, but it also belongs to millions of other drivers who we are asked to protect by driving well.