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Thou Shalt Not Cut Me Off, Dammit!
by Mad Dog
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Mad Dog column has been published by Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, NY Daily News, S.F. Chronicle, Boston Phoenix and other fine newspapers.

The Vatican, in its never-ending search to find something in your life they haven’t already issued rules for so you can feel extreme guilt when you don’t follow them and confess for what feels longer than an hour-long Larry King Live show — if you can imagine such a thing — recently issued the Ten Commandments for Drivers. And why not, there’s already the original ten, the movie version, the suppressed “other ten” — if you believe a recent Weekly World News, and why shouldn’t you? — and of course the Ten Commandments of Love by the Moonglows, but that was way back in 1958 and I’m sure they need to be updated pretty badly at this point. Right, as if the others don’t.

The 36-page document, which is actually called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road," a title that sounds more like a guide to paving, filling potholes, and painting white stripes in rural areas, covers the moral aspects of driving a car. And the immoral ones, too. It discusses road rage, respecting pedestrians, keeping within the speed limit, avoiding rude gestures while driving, and my fave, the Fifth Commandment, which reads: "Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin." In other words, “Both hands on the wheel, buddy.”

Not surprisingly, praying while driving is okay. In fact, it's encouraged. And often necessary. Hopefully though, you’ll do it with your eyes open and your hands firmly at the ten and two o’clock position so as not to make that “In case of Rapture, this car will swerve all over the road but I won’t care because I’ll be in heaven already” bumper sticker come true. There's no mention of driving while using cell phones, eating Big Macs, or applying mascara, or whether it's okay to use the carpool lane when you're by yourself because "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are always with me." But don’t worry, if the state trooper doesn’t buy that excuse you can always ask President Bush to commute your fine. He’s easy.

These guidelines come none too soon. According to a survey released by AutoVantage, a Connecticut-based automobile membership club that acts like AAA but isn’t, bad driving manners and, as a result, road rage are getting worse. Grabbing the top spot as having the worst drivers for the second year in a row is Miami, FL. Way to go, Miami! Now put down those cell phones, middle fingers, and .38 Specials and watch the road, will you?

The survey found that the three things that infuriate people the most is motorists who drive too fast, tailgate, and cut over without signaling. At least when other people do it. The three road ragiest reactions to bad driving were honking the horn, cursing at the other driver while thinking they’d somehow hear it from 40 feet away through two cars with the windows rolled up, the air conditioning running at full blast, and the stereo pumping at ear bleeding levels, and waving a fist. And no, they’re not waving it to show solidarity with their oppressed brothers. Only 1 percent said they’ve slammed their car into another one to let it be known how they felt. Of course when you figure that there are 196 million drivers in the United States, that means nearly 2 million people have rammed another car because of discourteous driving. Maybe it’s time gas stations start passing out free Xanax with every fill up. Hey, at least then we’d be getting something for the inflated prices we’re paying. Not to mention we wouldn’t worry about how fast the dials on the pump were spinning. At least not until the end of the month when the credit card bill showed up and the Xanax had long ago worn off.

Hopefully people will take the Ten Commandments of Driving to heart and become more courteous drivers. True, the Vatican wants us to become more moral drivers, but let’s not ask the impossible. If we don’t shape up on our own, we might be forced to shape up. Transport Canada, which is like the U.S. Department of Transportation with a few extra “eh”s thrown in, has been testing a system that enforces the speed limit by making it hard to push down the gas pedal when you go over the speed limit. How can they tell? They use a GPS device to monitor the car’s speed and position. Yes, they not only know how fast you’re going, but where you are. And what you’re doing. So stop thinking no one knows you have your finger in your nose while you’re sitting at that stop light, okay? And you thought your current Car Nanny was bad reminding you to buckle your seat belt, buzzing when you’ve left the headlights on, and setting off an ear-piercing alarm when you break either the third, fourth, or seventh Commandments of Driving.

It’s easy for the Vatican to expect us to follow the Ten Commandments of Driving. After all, Vatican City is the world's smallest sovereign state, with only about 1,000 cars, a maximum speed limit of 30 kph — about 19 mph — and not a single accident inside the city’s walls in more than 18 months. Let them try the Monday morning rush hour commute or get stuck behind an RV that’s towing a car up a winding mountain road for two hours at 6 mph and see how long their fist stays inside the Popemobile. Pax vobiscum indeed. It will be more like “Move over, Buddy or you’re going to hell.” Would you pass the Xanax, please?

# # # # #

©2007 Barry H. Gottlieb All Rights Reserved.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, “If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?” is available from Xlibris Corporation.

Published: Sep 5,2008 16:47
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