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Maybe Some People Shouldn't Drive.

I'm on a Delta 737 from Minneapolis to Boston and by habit, well stocked with car and cycle magazines for the 2 1/2 hour flight.  The gentleman seated next to me is about 50 years old, with an attitude and attire that speaks to a high net worth.  Noticing my car magazines, he asks for my opinion about a car for his 17 year old daughter. He's thinking of a Volvo, and his rationale for this selection is truly baffling.  Being 17, he expects that "she'll total a couple of cars before getting the hang of driving".  So, this fellow thinks it's best that she drive a an Abrams battle tank that can help her survive the inevitable texting/inattention/speeding / poor judgement related crashes.  

I'm speechless.

"So what do you think of the Volvo?" he asks. "It's a good car" I say.  But what I'm really thinking is "how about actually teaching your kid how to drive - or buying her a bus pass instead?"

Where did such a perverse attitude about driving come from?  As kids,  we were actually taught to drive, with the principal objective of avoiding an accident in the first place. Rules of the road, hands at 10 and 2, steer into the skid, yield the right of way, check the mirrors, obey the signs - all were mechanisms to avoid mistakes that can lead to crashes.  This crazy father evidently didn't have the time or common sense to teach his own child the fundamentals. Instead, he'll buy a Swedish safety capsule to help her survive the inevitable wreck. What a bozo.

The new Mercedes E350 TV commericals are just as bizarre, with 3-4 vignettes where drivers somberly admit to their own bad driving ("I didn't notice that I'd drifted into the other lane", or "I wasn't paying attention to the truck stopped ahead") and then give heartfelt thanks to the Mercedes electronic nannies that just saved their bacon.  What message does this send about the dead serious act of driving?  That it's OK to be a moron, because our cars will compensate for our errors and poor judgment and save us?

Driving the roads today, it's evident that the fundamental skills of American drivers are getting worse, not better.  I simply cannot imagine anything more frightening than a new breed of drivers who are entirely dependent on electronic wizardry to keep them (and me) alive.

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