ATLANTA — There’s been a lot of talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives. We’re working from home, we avoid human interaction and we buy hand sanitizer by the gallon.
But, another change has taken place but hasn’t received the same level of attention.
Collectively, we forgot how to drive. I’m not kidding; have you driven lately?
A few weeks ago, I was driving when I came upon an “all-way stop.” I ground to a halt, then proceeded at the appropriate time.
Suddenly, a car approached the stop sign to my right, and for a moment, it appeared as if they wouldn’t stop. I tapped the brakes, doing my best to avert a possible collision.
The motorist in question slammed on their brakes. However, they were upset with my decision.
The driver turned behind me and proceeded to tailgate.
Now, it was a two-lane road with one lane in each direction. As we drove, I soon found myself behind a van going slower than the driver behind me wanted, prompting them to try and pass despite the double yellow lines on the road.
They were unsuccessful. When we arrived at a place where the road added a turning lane, they blew past me and extended a decidedly unfriendly gesture to show their displeasure.
But why was this anger directed at me? I was in a line of traffic; plus, I wasn’t the one who nearly ran a stop sign.
I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. I’ve seen countless drivers run red lights and narrowly averted more mishaps in the past six months than during my previous years of driving.
I’ve even alerted the authorities in my local governments to no avail. The officials have generally dismissed these concerns as “inattentive divers,” or something to that effect, saying they can do little.
It’s not entirely clear why a pandemic might lead to more bad driving. There are several possible scenarios.
I don’t know if it’s the changed volume of traffic or altered traffic patterns, but some days, taking to the roads seems to be more dangerous than attending a super spreader event without a mask.
Will we remember how to drive when the world returns to “normal?” We’ll perhaps know one day. Maybe.