Give student drivers a brake
Updated: May 20, 2013 2:20AM
LA GRANGE — Caution: Overanxious parent in passenger seat ahead of you may throw her hands up wildly and repeatedly stomp on the floor mat, otherwise known as the “imaginary brake.”
That might be a wordy bumper sticker, but one I wouldn’t mind adding to the back of my van.
The car magnet I have now reads, simply, “Student driver” against a bright yellow background.
The magnet is supposed to caution drivers behind us that a teenager is behind the wheel, and a little patience would be appreciated.
“Supposed to” are the key words in the above sentence, because I’ve found in the couple months since my eldest child got his permit that both our stress levels have been exacerbated due to impatient, rude drivers.
Note to the people flying down Willow Springs, La Grange Road and 47th Street well over the posted speed limit: tailgating a student driver is not cool, because at some point in your life you were just learning, too. It’s also quite dangerous.
Hence, there’s a reason why I often throw my hands up in frustration and stomp on the imaginary brake when my son is driving. It’s not because he drives too fast or because he’s wandering into the lane next to him. If anything, he drives too slowly, at or just under the speed limit.
So many drivers are in such a darn hurry these days that they don’t think anything of riding all the way up to the bumper of the car in front of them. That’s bad enough to do to any driver, but when you do it to a car that is clearly marked as a student driver, it causes a hazard.
On his second day on the road, in fact, a car behind us beeped loudly and repeatedly at us as my son made a left hand turn, and on a quiet side street, no less. I wanted so badly to jump out of the car and say, “Look, dude, I get that he turns slowly and that you are in a hurry to get somewhere, but he’s just learning here. Knock it off!”
I’ve concluded, though, that it’s best to give my son this real-life experience, because the truth is that cars do tailgate you. They’ll beep at you, flash their brights at you or swerve dangerously around you, and you have to get used to that and figure out a way to deal with it.
Spring is coming, and with it, a greater number of pedestrians and cyclists, not to mention a whole new crop of student drivers and drivers with newly-minted licenses. As the big topic in La Grange becomes how to prevent issues with speeding drivers along 47th Street with the potential new overpass or underpass at East Avenue under consideration, it bears repeating that a little more caution and patience on the roads is imperative. Plenty of people have gotten inured, some critically, some even fatally, as a result of the bad combination of speed, impatience and inattention.
That’s not a bumper sticker. That’s reality.