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PERSPECTIVE ON DRIVING

Steer Clear of Old Rules of the Road : Tired of toeing the line while fellow drivers weave all over it? You may be ready for driver re-education.

April 21, 1996|STEVE MORRIS | Steve Morris is a Los Angeles writer and humorist

I write this with trembling hand. Yes, I've been driving again in the San Fernando Valley, home of two driving extremes. Either an eastbound maniac on the 101, hurrying to some audition or Rolfing session, gets to within 1/32 mile of the 405 interchange and decides to merge faster than a Heidi Fleiss client, or a frightened do-gooder decides that even if we're in, say, Sherman Oaks right now, let's get into that left lane, slow down and start signaling, just to be sure we don't miss our left turn in Northridge.

Rather than let these folks stress you out until there's a fine white powder in your mouth where your teeth once were and the steering wheel has snapped in your hands, take heart. Through connections which I cannot reveal, and a little safecracking, I have gained access to the real rules of the road, published here for the first time.

These rules, which you secretly knew existed, are a chance for all of us to wake up, smell the motor oil and understand why our fellow motorists drive the way they do.

* Right of way. You do not have the right of way. I do.

* Price tag. The more expensive a car is, the more the owner is entitled to the right of way on a street, highway or mall parking area. In fact, the owner of a Bentley Jag F-14 Fighter Coupe is entitled to drive right over your car. Even on Sundays and holidays. This is a Universal Driving Truth, not merely the whimsical suggestion of a free-lance columnist hoping that the editor of this publication owns an expensive car.

* Turn signals are dangerous to your health. This was proved in groundbreaking research conducted by important, lab-coat-wearing scientists who own Bunsen burners. For a three-month period, white mice were locked in a black box with a continuously blinking left turn signal from a 1984 Buick Skylark equipped with bucket seats, power steering, power disc brakes and rear window defogger. After this exposure, the mice were found to be irritable and unable to operate heavy machinery or enjoy foreign films.

Furthermore, turn signals are strategically impractical. When you signal, you tip off your mortal enemies (all other drivers) as to what your next move will be. You lose the key element of surprise, which can only be maintained by swerving unpredictably from lane to lane.

* Getting the most out of your vehicle. A dining room, phone booth, dressing room and karaoke bar all in one, your car's interior can afford you many hours of joy and fulfillment if only you can disabuse yourself of the antiquated notion that all of one's attention must be focused on so-called "driving." Thus you'll make your car a more productive place, eliminating the downtime driving represents, and help create a more productive America. And, with cruise control, a competitive game of hacky sack is well within reach.

Office work, grooming, recreation . . . with a little practice, you'll find that traffic and road signs don't distract you at all from an enriching automotive experience.

OK, I've covered the basics. I'll bet the next time you drive, whether you're traversing our land on the Ventura Freeway, or just driving down Zelzah for a carton of milk, you'll notice that many of your neighbors and friends are already happily obeying the Real Rules of the Road. Unless you are actually driving while you read this. In which case, good going! You've got a big head start on the rest of us. Everybody else, get out on that road real soon, and happy motoring!

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