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Published:December 4th, 2007 04:12 EST

Where Have All the Good Drivers Gone?

By Artie Knapp

I read recently that, if our Sun was the size of a dot over the letter i ", the nearest star would be a dot ten miles away. That`s an impressive statistic on the vastness of space, but it doesn`t impress me as much as people with good driving habits. Seriously, good drivers are few and far between these days.

I was driving home from work the other day when the driver of a sports utility vehicle pulled right out in front of me. Luckily, it was just a close call. I didn`t receive a single scratch. The driver proceeded to flip me off after I calmly shook my head. In retrospect, I believe that driver was justified for giving me the bird; what nerve I have for not wanting to be killed, or left in a vegetative state.

My Jeep wouldn`t go completely unscathed, however, later that evening my taillight was busted with compliments owed to a rolling grocery cart. Apparently, taking twenty seconds to put a grocery cart away was more burden than one shopper could endure.

If Jay Leno really wanted to stump random interviewees on the street he would ask them what an assured cleared distance is. I am sure that would baffle more people than who was the 19th President of the United States. An assured cleared distance: You know what I am referring to; the driver in your rear-view-mirror that`s about a foot off your bumper. The one who won`t be happy until they tattoo your ride!

There are only two possibilities to explain why people do this:

1. They`re not smart enough to realize the potential danger of their actions, or
2. They`re not smart enough to realize the potential danger of their actions, and " don`t care about their safety or yours.

I used to enjoy being behind the wheel; but now, driving is merely a sure-fire way to frustration and heart palpitations. And I haven`t even driven in a New York City taxi cab in quite a while. I swear.

Our fellow drivers barely qualify as strangers. Think about it; outside of derogatory comments that may be exchanged because someone almost got side-swiped, you`ll never talk to other drivers unless you have to exchange insurance information and call the cops. Perhaps the lack of emotional attachment is why so many drivers fail to view us as a real person. To them, we`re not living, breathing human beings, but just an obstacle in their way. And nothing more!

The key to hindering rude driving is by breaking down as many walls as possible. No, not real walls-- bad drivers will take care of that. No, I`m talking about breaking down the walls that so many individuals have put up around themselves. One never knows when they will encounter a dangerous driver on the road, but we can influence many of them before they even start their ignition.

Words like please, thank you, excuse me and you`re welcome do wonders for the human spirit when it needs a boost. Who knows, one of the people you`re kind to may be a bad driver about ready to hit the road in anger. A friendly demeanor could greatly influence that driver who may still be seething about something as dramatic as their cornflakes being too soggy that morning.

The point is, our outlook and attitude sets the tone for our own day, but it also impacts others as well. Especially other drivers!

To be sure, there will always be bad drivers with no regard for their safety, let alone ours. But let`s beat them by not going down the same road as they do. In other words, let`s beat them at their own race by not starting in the first place. Are there any takers out there? Where have all the good drivers gone?