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Steer clear of striped signs

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

There it was.

The question.

"Mom, if you took the driving test today do you think you'd pass?"

Silence.

Let's back up a few minutes, shall we?

It is Saturday, one day before our baby girl's 15th birthday. The sun is shining. Birds are chirping in the trees. Babies everywhere are cooing softly in fresh, white cloth diapers. Somewhere a kindly lady wearing a red checkered apron has just taken a homemade apple pie from the oven and placed it on the windowsill to cool. A shop owner in some small town is polishing apples and whistling cheerfully. And I am behind the steering wheel reciting every known traffic law I can think of in an attempt to teach my daughter how to drive. I have been driving for nearly 30 years now. I think I'm qualified.

"When the yellow line is solid on your side of the road, what does it mean?" I ask in my best responsible teacherly voice as we make our way through Sasser on our way to a family reunion. My husband is in the seat beside me, his nose in a book.

"Do you not know what it means or are you asking me?" our daughter quips from the back seat.

"That's what I was wondering," her father comments stoically, his eyes never leaving his page. Very funny. I know that the solid yellow line means no passing. Apparently, so does our daughter. She got it right. I decide to move on to signs, and pick a cute little striped rectangular one up ahead on the right side of the road.

"What does that black and yellow striped sign up there mean?" I ask and almost immediately regret it. What does it mean?

As much as I hate to do it, I lean over. "What does it mean?" I whisper to my husband. He looks at the sign as we pass by it, then at me, then back at his book.

"It means you can't drive," he says jokingly ... I think.

Cue the question.

"Mom, if you took the driving test today do you think you'd pass?"

Sigh. It's no surprise there are a number of people on the road these days who couldn't pass the test, and there are yearly studies to prove it. According to a more recent one, nearly 36.9 million people would fail if they were re-tested today. Based on the people who actually took an online test for the study, they found that older drivers 60 to 65 have the highest average test scores, and that the Northeast is the worst driving region, with the average score at 74 percent.

And as much as I hate to report it, the study found that if driving knowledge is any indication of driving habits, men are better drivers than women. The average score for men was 80.2 percent versus 74.1 for females.

So, back to that question ... if I took the driving test today, would I pass? Well, I took one online at nationaldrivingtest.com. And let's just put it this way — I passed. To quote Rain Main, I'm an excellent driver.

Now if someone would please just tell me what that cute little black and yellow striped sign means, everything will be just fine.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.