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The best of drivers, the worst of drivers

April 13, 2010 - Paul Giannamore

It never fails to amaze me what a big sign saying "Student Driver" on a car can bring out in other motorists.

My part-time extra-money gig is as a driver's ed instructor, and I get to observe such behavior regularly.

The other night was a perfect example. I had a kid who admitted she was a little "rusty," and hadn't driven all winter. We headed out into the Fernwood State Forest, where I figured there'd be little traffic and a lot of opportunity for her to just drive the car, keeping it between the ditch and the center of the road, so to speak.

As she was doing just that, at a lower-than-normal speed while getting a feel for the car, a big Dodge pickup came up behind us. Normally, that causes a little clenching in my driver's ed guy muscles (tight jaw, knot in pit of stomach) because most of the time, the sign of the semi-like Ram in the rearview mirror means Macho Man is here, ready to tailgate like there's no tomorrow.

Except this truck was courteous, hanging about six car lengths or more back. He stayed respectfully behind for a mile or so until I found a place for the kid to pull to the right and stop so we could wave the truck by.

A little later, the exact opposite occurred. Mercury Mariner, usually driven by crazy out-of-control soccer mom late for work, her kid's game or getting home to put the frozen dinner in the microwave, bombed right up out of nowhere onto our rear bumper. Before I could get the kid to pull over an instant later, the little sport ute was veering to our left. As we stopped, it came in behind us again, then ripped by at about 80.

Point is, never judge drivers by what they're driving.

And that big Student Driver sign brings out the worst in some people. And the best in others. 


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