When I was 24 years old, I went to New York to visit my brother at Cornell. Upon arriving at his place, I was introduced to several of his friends.
“So you’re Stryker’s brother?” they greeted me enthusiastically. “We hope you’ve come up to dispel the Lane stereotype.”
“The Lane stereotype?” I asked in confusion. “Is it bad?”
“Oh, it’s the worst,” they agreed, making eye contact with each other and nodding in unison.
“Well, what is it?” I asked hurriedly, wondering if I had unwittingly come to New York to prove that not all Lanes eat their dandruff.
“It’s basically that the Lanes can’t pick up a woman to save their lives and are the slowest drivers on the planet,” I was informed resolutely.
My heart dropped to my stomach: I wasn’t going to be able to do it.
“Well, guys, believe it or not, I’ve only picked up three women in my life, and I actually drive quite a bit slower than Stryker…”
“Okay, trying to be the good big brother and not show little brother up on his home turf,” they responded. “But it’s not possible to pick up less women or drive slower than Stryker.”
“You’d understand if you ever met our dad,” I defended. “We’d get upbraided for being loverboys if we ever looked at a hot girl and accused of trying to destroy his engine if we got the car over 50 MPH…”
They chuckled a little bit but refused to believe, so I kind of let the debate go like I was joking.
Fast forward seven years, and my efforts to dispel the Lane stereotype have not been as fruitful as those young collegians would have liked. I have managed to pick up more women (???), but I still drive along at the same leisurely pace. For years, I thought my slow driving was something to be ashamed of, but I’ve recently started to feel good about myself when big-dicked badboys and ballin’ boss bitches blow past me on the byway.
You see, for all of the fear mongering that goes on in the media, there are few things in our lives more dangerous than getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and rolling down our public highways. Lloyd Christmas famously quipped that we are more likely to die on the way to the airport. While this was meant as a joke, it is absolutely true. We leave so much to chance when we hit the road. After sitting in the passenger seat as my dad hit another deer with his van, losing one of our beloved Nucla wrestlers to a car crash several weeks ago, and seeing the amount of heart-stopping vehicular carnage in this city on a daily basis, I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone who reads this of the importance of not taking anything for granted and using the following safety measures the next time they start the engine:
- Never exceed the speed limit, and preferably keep it a couple of MPH under. Speed limits are put in place as a maximum speed at which vehicles can safely travel a given stretch of road. Sure, it is possible to go faster than the speed limit, but it is not possible to SAFELY go faster than the speed limit. When driving motor vehicles, we need a comfortable margin for error (mechanical failures, brain lapses, unexpected hazards). The faster we go, the more we see this margin for error reduced. It’s a shame that speed has been glamorized in our cultural psyche because as is said, speed kills. Speed equals energy, and energy causes reactions; more speed, bigger reaction. It’s a good thing my dad was only going 38 MPH when he hit his deer. Sure, there is something to be said for slow drivers being a hazard on the highway, but if you slow drivers are going the speed limit, or close to the speed limit, you have NOTHING to apologize about.
- No phones, and be on the lookout for people you suspect are on their phones. That Instagram post can wait; your friend can leave a voicemail. The only entertainment you need to get you down the road is Conway Twitty’s 20 Greatest Hits; put that shit on repeat and let it roll. When we were taking my friend back to the airport the other day, we saw a car driving very erratically, changing speeds and swerving in-and-out of lanes. I told my brother, “I bet the dumb fuck is on his phone. Try to get around him before he causes an accident.” Sure enough, the driver had her face down and phone in her hand. What’s more, she had her laptop propped on her dashboard with a movie playing. What a disaster, and how disrespectful to the safety of her fellow drivers. I should have called in her license plate number.
- Be on the lookout for cars on the side of the road with their brake lights on. Never assume that these cars see you and be ready to hit your brakes and lay on your horn if they try and pull out in front of you. The same can be said at intersections. Don’t just assume that your right-of-way is good, and be aware of your surroundings as you roll through green lights.
- It’s better to stop at a yellow light than try to beat it. A good majority of the accidents I see in this city are at yellow lights. Driver trying to make a left hand turn tries to beat the yellow light, forgets that the car speeding straight still has the right-of-way at the yellow light, gets t-boned by car speeding straight. Whenever I’m at a yellow light in heavy traffic, I always stay back at the stop line and avoid no-man’s-land, assuming that as many cars as possible are going to try and blow through the yellow going straight. This inevitably pisses off the cars behind me and whoever is in my passenger seat, but fuck ‘em. They can wait 45 seconds for the protected left.
- Be aware of motorcycles, bicyclists, and pedestrians at all times. These citizens love traffic rules when they work in their favor; not so much when traffic rules slow them down. Be extra cautious when making right-hand turns. If you pass a biker or pedestrian just before making a right-hand turn at a green light, assume that they will try and blow through the intersection and yield a little bit before making your turn.
- Get to know your vehicle! Frequently check tire pressure, tire tread, and fluid levels. Get to know the sounds your vehicle makes and what levels your gauges typically sit at so you can become suspicious of anything out of the ordinary and get it checked out. Also, when renting or borrowing a vehicle, locate light switches, hazards, turn signals, defrost, windshield wipers, and all other pertinent safety features BEFORE getting on the highway. It is also especially important to check the tires on rental cars. These vehicles get frequently abused and taken off road, so it is crucial to make sure your tires are good on your rental before they turn it over to you.
As our country approaches its 250th birthday, we are coming to an interesting point in which many of the rights we have taken for granted for so many years are starting to create some very real problems. Everyone feels that it is their “right” to get a driver’s license when they turn 16, but far too many forget the privilege upon which this right is founded. Driving a motor vehicle is the most sacred of privileges, as it comes with the assurance that we will look out for the safety and well-being of our fellow humans. Quite frankly, far too many are abusing this privilege as their “right” in 2019, and I want to make others aware of this. I know this article is “extra,” but I really am deeply concerned with what I see going on on the highways. If I can help save just one person from pain and suffering, how extra can I really be?