Retired Powder Springs Police Chief Charlie Sewell
Did you ever observe someone drive like a maniac and ask yourself how they ever obtained a driver’s license? Driving a vehicle in traffic today can be a very frustrating and exasperating experience. It would be incredible if everyone was a perfect driver like me? If a driver cuts you off, it is perfectly legal to give a warning with your horn. Beyond a reasonable and necessary beep, however, the use of a horn is against Georgia law. You probably don’t know anyone that has been given a ticket for honking their horn but that doesn’t mean it is legal or wise. If more drivers acknowledged their driving mistakes everyone’s driving experience would be more pleasurable. What is the downside to admitting to another driver that you made a mistake? It seems to me that most people are somewhat patient when they get behind a slow moving vehicle that has a sign denoting, “Student Driver.” Often, that sign signifies a teenage driver. Without the implied protection of that special sign, drivers who don’t meet or exceed the posted speed limit are often game for obnoxious drivers. Years ago I was teaching my then-fifteen-year-old daughter to drive when suddenly and unexpectedly we heard a four-second blast from a horn directly behind us. She was probably driving 34 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone and noticed the horn-blowing driver in her rear view mirror signal his I.Q. by extending his middle finger. Trembling and in tears, she said “What did I do wrong daddy?” Struggling for the perfect answer a father should give his daughter, I could only think to tell her that she had done nothing wrong. What I really wanted to say was “Slam on your brakes, baby.” That, of course, would have been an appallingly thing to teach anyone, especially a teenager. Did the inconsiderate driver behind us realize he was offering an obscene gesture to a child? Did he unleash his temper before he engaged his brain? Perhaps if my daughter had maneuvered the car to the side of the road to let him pass he might have reached his destination a couple of seconds earlier. Is the driver of the first car at the traffic signal when the light turns green not paying attention or did the car stall? Is the car in front speeding up and slowing down because the driver is fiddling with the radio, or is the driver looking for the correct address to deliver a “Meals on Wheels?” Should we care if the other driver has a health issues or another type emergency? Before blowing your car horn, you might want to make sure your eyes have not deceived you. If I actually was the perfect driver that I previously boasted, I would find it in my heart to let issues go. Aggressive drivers might believe their personal schedule is more important than anyone else, but patience can reduce traffic crashes and save lives. Why not go with the flow? Charlie Sewell is the Powder Springs chief of police. His column runs occasionally in the Marietta Daily Journal.