When my father was a teenager he lived with his father in Africa and when he tells me stories, my mind is transported to a time and place that today seems surreal. His stories of seeing the wildlife, scenery and the people are truly amazing. There is one particular story that I always find fascinating no matter how many times I hear it.

My father was 12-13 years old, this is how he always starts his stories. We need to know how old he was at the time the event occurred. My father seems to enjoy letting us all know that he did these things when he was so young. At that age he lived in the plains of Africa and his father would have to travel from village to village to deal with business. What business did his father have? That was never mentioned, the way my father explained it, made it seem like it was very important. The way they travelled was by Jeep. You know those scenes in movies, the old ones anyway, where everyone is dressed in khakis and the person in charge has 10 or more assistants. That’s how my grandfather lived. He would pay every single man an honest wage and he was well known as a fair man. The women also knew my grandfather, he was quite the womanizer but extremely charming. Even the women who thought he was annoying would end up laughing and smiling in his presence. He had a way with people. This Jeep was an army style jeep. Sturdy and reliable and could withstand a punishing trip through the African terrain. My father would drive the Jeep around and sometimes make deliveries for his father. When my father is telling this story he is bragging about his driving abilities. He is also complaining about the lack of driving skills that my brother and I have. You also should know my father was a Rally car driver. In my opinion, and don’t tell my father I said this, Rally car drivers are the most skilled car drivers in the world. They have to deal with everything in the world and at high speeds and they also need to know how to repair their cars. They really should have some sort of reality show about them.

My father drives with purpose and is actually a very safe driver but when you’re in the car with him you become very tense. Now it’s not because of his driving, you very quickly realize that the cars around him are filled with, how shall I say this nicely, incompetent drivers. I used to think my father was a harsh and aggressive driver and it was extremely intimidating. I was 18 when I started driving and I learned with a Standard engine. For all you Automatic car drivers, this means you have to shift gears to make the car move and accelerate. You are in more control of the car with Standard transmission and you can use it to brake with also, in other words you must be paying attention at all times. It forces you to be interactive with the car at all times. Think of it like changing speeds on a bike. Going up a hill you put it at a lower gear. When your on a levelled road you would have it on a higher gear. The same thing goes for a car. Learning to drive a car with a Standard Transmission has taught me to focus and be disciplined. The worst thing that ever happened to cars was a Automatic Transmission, yes that’s my opinion. Let me prove my point.

When you drive Automatic, all you are doing is steering the car. It’s almost like it drives itself. Trust me, for some of you it would be better if the car did. We live in a time where we are constantly distracted by everything, signs, people, lights, radio, cell phones (if your using your phone while driving, your an idiot, please just stop reading, your problem is worse then not having skill), which demands, or should demand us, to pay closer attention to the roads and the cars around us. I’m not going to point out the obvious infractions, not signalling when you want to change lanes, looking over your shoulder before you change said lane, following too close and my favourite cutting people off. That’s different than changing lanes, cutting someone off can happen in a parking lot, or simply when your stuck in traffic and someone is impatient enough and wants into what seems like the faster lane. People need to understand, it’s not a speed issue. It’s a volume issue.

Try pumping 500 litres of water through a garden hose in less then 5 minutes. Oh look, you’re all wet. Hmmmmm….

The initial idea of roads were that they had to be shared. We seem to be hell-bent on showing that we own the road. Let’s go back to the paying attention point. Let me give you a scenario.

You are driving along a residential street. You have buildings on either side of the road and other cars driving on your side and also the other direction. There are people walking on the sidewalk. The weather is clear and the roads are clean. For people that live in a country that has snow weather, you know what I mean. You have a car in front of you, doesn’t matter what the colour or Make it is, and you are approaching a traffic light. You see that the light is green and you can continue. The car in front of you though begins to break. You have the instinct to place your foot on the break but also realize that the other car isn’t slowing down. The other cars back brake lights are going off and on as if to be sending a Morse code message. Now please let me know why this happens? Ok I will tell you why. No driving skills. The percentage of insecure and fearful drivers on the road is staggering. The other car has a driver that simply freaks out and doesn’t understand the way traffic flow works. Also, doesn’t realize that their behaviour is impacting the flow of traffic on a bigger scale. It takes a day to get your driver’s license. One day!!

I would love to see a 3 day or 4 day comprehensive testing to have a driver show their skill level of driving. Top skill drivers have more freedom on the road and lower skill drivers are now limited to road access. There is no Right to drive. It’s a privilege, and as such, you need to show that you earned the privilege to drive. Just because I have the skill to fly a small engine airplane and land on a small runway, does not mean I can land a 737 at Pearson. I just don’t have the skill to do so.

No wonder there’s road rage. I don’t condone it, but I can understand why there is road rage. Too many driver’s simply don’t have the skill level to drive even on the highway. It’s simple, drive straight and if you don’t want to go fast stay to the right, and if someone is coming up to you, move over to the right. Many driver’s are now practicing a behaviour that is extremely dangerous. They are passing cars on the middle lane or right lane because too many selfish or unskilled drivers are on the left lane. You don’t own the road, I pay taxes like you and every other person. Share the road and respect the flow of traffic.

By the way, for all you skilled driver’s that love to speed during bad weather, don’t. Your speed in bad weather kills people. I don’t care who you are, in bad weather mistakes happen. More so than clear weather.

This is why I take transit.

Drive safely.