My view: Give drivers ed students a 'brake'

By Kerry A. Downs

Published: Thursday, Jan. 26 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Zac Slater (CQ) changes vehicles while driving on the range. Representative Phil Riesen has a new bill that would restrict drivers under 18 years of age from using cell phones while driving. Drivers-ed students at Alta High. Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. Photo by Scott G Winterton Deseret News.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

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I'm addressing this letter to many who drive on our roads along the Wasatch Front. You are rude, selfish, egotistical, discourteous and disgusting. And those are the kindest words I can use to describe your driving behaviors. However, it is not just the way you normally drive and treat each other about which I now want to focus. It is your attitude and actions toward driver education cars and the inexperienced drivers within them.

I am a local drivers education instructor, and I am sick and tired of the impatience and rude behavior we, and the students, receive from the driving public. I cannot understand the mental ineptitude of someone who would honk and gesture at an inexperienced but learning youthful driver who is under the guidance of an instructor to learn the lawful and safe driving techniques that you have long ago forgotten and currently ignore.

It is also amazing how it seems to be an attack on your "manhood" to allow a student driver to change lanes in front of you. You never back off your speed to allow space for the car to safely change lanes. Many of you will speed up deliberately to get in the way so the lane change can't take place.

Adults constantly complain about young drivers, when they, themselves, are just as much a danger to the safety of others. As we drive around town in the drivers education vehicle, we are constantly honked at for stopping properly, being careful and driving the speed limit. The glares and gestures we receive from the "adult" drivers as they speed around us when they can, are disgusting to me and stressful to the student driver as they wonder what they did wrong.

The irony is that those "experienced" drivers in such a rush are talking, texting or surfing the web on their cell phones, sometimes shaving, putting makeup on, stuffing their face with a breakfast sandwich or spilling the hot chocolate/coffee in their lap, being a much greater risk to safety than the student driver doing his best to obey laws and avoid unsafe driving behaviors.

My plea is that all drivers will treat each other with courtesy and respect, providing a safer driving environment for us all. But most of all, please give the student driver a "brake" and assist his learning experience by eliminating your impatience and allow him to learn and experience the safer methods of driving that will benefit us all.

Kerry A. Downs is an Orem High School drivers education instructor.

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