I live about an hour away from the CCJ offices, so I get to see lots of other drivers and the things they do – both driving-related and not necessarily pertaining to the act of keeping their vehicles safely under control. I’ve seen it all: Lipstick being applied while the female driver’s eyes were fixated on the rearview mirror, dudes ramming giant double-stack burgers down their throats, folks waving their arms around while using their cellphones (as if the person on the other end of the line could see their frantic gestures) – you get the idea.
I’m not going to perch on an ivory tower and claim I’ve never done anything that possibly could cause me to avert my eyes from the road: I’ve reached for countless CD cases, fumbled for the handle to my coffee mug, dug into the storage bin for my phone-charging cord, etc. I suppose the very act of noticing what other drivers are doing means I’ve turned my head away from the highway.
I can say, however, that working for a trucking magazine for nearly 9 years now has given me an improved realization of the demands placed upon professional drivers to NOT do those very things – and to try to NOT do them myself. I think about it every time I habitually reach for one of those foreign personal objects and try to NOT do it.
Which leads to my point: I think four-wheel drivers could stand some sort of official refresher training. After all, it’s been more than 33 years since I got my driver’s license, but in no time since have I been required to look through a manual or get behind the wheel with some sort of official who would evaluate the state of my current driving performance. It seems like the act of earning a license is treated like learning to ride a bicycle or tying your shoes; you’re expected to never forget how to do it.
Of course, the very nature of requiring refresher driving lessons for four-wheel drivers, maybe as infrequently as every 10 years, would lead to a national outcry of protest – not to mention the sheer cost and logistics of such a government mandate. If you thought the hooting and hollering over gun control was something, you wouldn’t have seen anything yet. But who could argue its worth?