The very first rule in driving school should be: “Thou Shall Pull Over to Let Fellow Drivers by When Going 20 MPH Under the Speed Limit!” Sadly, it is not rule No. 1. In fact, it’s not even rule No. 3,324,755. It’s not taught at all. I was unaware of this until very recently.
While driving to work last week, I found myself in a long line behind a driver’s ed vehicle. Being a very patient person (and amazingly early for work that day for the perhaps first time in my life), I was not concerned with this in the least. I wasn’t even mad as we slowed down to 22 MPH across the Hoh Bridge. I get it. That bridge can be scary. Some people (possibly named Christy Rasmussen-Ford) may have once closed their eyes the entire way across while driving a huge U-Haul. I’m speaking hypothetically of course.
A mile or two after the bridge, there are some sharp corners combined with horribly maintained roads. This combination could make drivers feel like they are riding on the world’s oldest and crappiest roller coaster. Therefore, when we were driving that stretch of the highway at 17 MPH, I was still not frustrated. I understood the cautious nature that a new driver might have.
After those corners, there are 9,349 long, straight stretches with the occasional, slight (barely noticeable) bend in the road. We were still not reaching 35 MPH. No one was passing the driver’s ed vehicle either … probably due to fearing the student driver’s unstable nature. As I was far back in this line, I accepted that I would not be going anywhere anytime soon. I was hoping for the best, but things were not looking well. At the beginning of this drive, I was going to be about 20 minutes early for work. Now, I was looking to be about a week late. Eventually a search party would be initiated for me if nothing improved.
As we went mile after mile, going even slower than any senior citizen ever thought of driving, I got more irritated. Why isn’t this teacher telling the student to pull over?
Then it hit me, this is why drivers NEVER pull over despite having a long line of cars behind them! In my 16 years of driving, I always had assumed that these people didn’t own rearview mirrors and thus had no idea that anyone was behind them. I was wrong. They do have rearview mirrors (well, most of them do anyway). Instead the problem stems from a missing link in the driver’s ed curriculum! It’s not a driver’s fault, they just weren’t ever taught to pull over. We are failing our new drivers!
As for me, a naturally slow-ish driver, I always pull over because I was taught to drive by my favorite truck driver. His first rule wasn’t technically to pull over though. Instead it was: “Thou Shalt Not Drive Like a Jerk!” … which is basically the same thing.
For questionns or comments, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I don’t write back, I may still be stuck behind that new driver.