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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Nothing to Brag About

November 22, 2003

Diana Wagman obviously thinks her behavior behind the wheel of a car is the stuff of comedic writing, but there was nothing amusing in what she wrote (Commentary, Nov. 18). It's appalling that she would chauffeur her kids at 80 miles an hour (and higher) as she swerves in and out of traffic, occasionally riding on the shoulder -- and nauseating that she'd brag about it. This is child abuse at its highest level. Does she believe that kids learn to operate a car in driver's ed? No, they learn by watching their parents drive.

Not for one moment do I believe she drives fast to get somewhere a few minutes sooner -- it's all about control. She's another of those psychotics on the road who stupidly believe that the vehicle in their hands is also in their complete control. Wagman's poor driving (and, yes, she is a bad driver) will one day result in her not being ready to avoid the fallen object or stalled car in her fast lane, the animal or small child on a surface street (because we all know speeders don't only speed on the freeway) or to handle the sudden malfunction of her car. She seems to find it amusing to view herself as a "jerk." Does she find it as amusing to see herself as a potential killer? The best thing for her kids would be if their father could grow a spine and not permit them in her car at any time for any reason. But, since he's married to this macho gal, what are the chances of that?

Diane Ohanian

San Diego

*

Wagman describes her delight at speeding on freeways, cutting other drivers off and being a traffic scofflaw in general, all for the thrill of it. If she prefers to endanger herself by driving like a jerk, well, unfortunately that is her choice. Her two children, however, the ones who make it possible for her to use the carpool lane every day, are not just handy human cargo. What kind of parent daily endangers her children for the sake of an adrenaline rush, and then writes to brag about it in the newspaper? Wagman should be ashamed of herself.

Cynthia Corley

Costa Mesa

*

The only response for a woman to make when told, "You drive like a man" is, "Tomorrow, I'll try to do better."

Sonia Appell

Los Angeles

*

Wagman writes her commentary with the mind-set of a fairly typical L.A. driver. Distracted by her need for speed and a hermetically sealed, self-gratifying environment, she fails to recognize that there are pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks who are continually placed in peril by such negligent, oblivious driving.

I am one of those rare Angelenos who walk to most places in the neighborhood, including work. I do not jaywalk; I cross at corners, wait for the light and use legal crosswalks. Yet even in attending to my civic obligation, I am cursed at by angry drivers, physically threatened with the grilles of vehicles and continually lose my right of way to some motorist behind the wheel of a mighty SUV, in a heck of a hurry to get somewhere by yesterday.

All I ask of you who drive and rarely encounter the true texture and experience of the "real" slow lane is to please drive sanely, breathe deeply of your conditioned air and watch out for those of us who are not wearing a 3,000-pound steel-and-fiberglass girdle.

Patricia Faragher

Los Angeles

*

I belong to a bereaved parents support group; many parents in the group have lost children in automobile accidents. Visit us, Diana, and maybe you'll stop driving like an idiot.

Doris Vernon

Camarillo

*

I was amazed that not only does Wagman admit she drives dangerously with children in her car, she can't do basic math. She says she drove 11.2 miles in 14 minutes, saying "Average speed 80." Perhaps she meant only to describe her freeway speed, but her correct average speed was 48 miles per hour. I was further amazed to read that she teaches in three locations. Whatever it is she teaches, she needs remedial math along with a driver's education course, after she gets caught speeding. Can the cops keep an eye out for her?

Nancy L.C. Steele

Altadena

*

I would like to thank Wagman for describing her daily freeway routes, so I'll know which to avoid. It's only a matter of time before she kills somebody, and it's not going to be me or my family. Her poor children. Doesn't her illegal, dangerous driving constitute child endangerment?

Kelli Zaehringer

Ventura

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