Speed Demon

I am a speed demon. I have a lead foot, and if I spend time behind the wheel, I want to spend it pedal to the metal. When I took Driver’s Ed, the speed limit was still 70, but it changed to 55 before I got my first car, a 1965 Mustang GT convertible. I think my record speed in the old GT was 140 mph. I’ve only been in one serious accident in my life, a spinout doing 95 in the GT, I did a double spin across some farm field, then drove away without a scratch on me or the car. But I was troubled when the car came to a rest only 2 feet from a telephone pole.

It is a rare person who will consent to ride in my car. Mostly that’s because of my cars, which are usually rustbuckets. But they’re fast, I prefer older muscle cars, like my 65 Barracuda, or my old 65 Dart GT. If you ride with me, you are taking your life in your hands. To ride with me, you must disclaim all liability from death and dismemberment, NO backseat driving, and most of all, keep your hands at your sides and do not distract the driver when he’s doing something insane. The #1 safety rule in my car is that passengers are never ever permitted to yell “Look OUT!”

Tonight on Turner Classic Movies I caught a short film, a highway safety film from Los Angeles, it must have been made in the 1920s. It had old B&W film of the early days of the freeways in LA, I was especially nostalgic to see the Sepulveda Pass back when it was only 2 lanes. I used to commute through the Sepulveda Pass and now it’s got at least 8 lanes of freeway and about 4 lanes off the freeway. But suddenly the tone of the film changed, it showed extremely graphic footage of dead children being carted away from horrible auto accidents. Burning cars with people still inside, dismembered and bleeding bodies tossed onto stretchers and taken away in ambulances. The narrator’s authoritative tone speaks, “they were all good drivers, they had a perfect driving record, right up until they DIED and now it doesn’t make any difference.”

So lately I’ve been thinking about mending my evil ways. Especially since I got that ticket doing 90 on the Interstate, in Illinois. The drive to Chicago from here is long and boring, and I’d do it at 120mph if I could get away with it. But now that I’ve been busted once, if it happens again I’ll be in serious trouble. So I have to get used to driving like a snail.

I recently read an article on the web, some car advice guy gave some suggestions on how to drive more civilly on the road. He suggested that you allow extra time in your trips, that you plan ahead to drive more slowly. Instead of trying to get from Point A to Point B in the least time possible, you must change your attitude and try to obey the speed limits as accurately as possible. I’ve found it actually works. If I make time to go slowly, I’m not burning up the road. It is tough for me to stick to the speed limits, but I have to pretend it’s a road rally or something, I try to stick as precisely to the limits as possible. But I still let er rip sometimes, I just can’t stay stuck in traffic with a bunch of people driving below the speed limit.

But I might already have lost my driving edge. I was back in LA a year ago, and I discovered I constantly had to push myself to keep up with traffic. I can’t believe that people honked at me, the speed demon, because I was driving too slow.

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