October 01, 2003

Adventures in Acceleration

When I struggle to come up with a topic for this column each week, I usually look for the dumbest and/or most outrageous thing in the news that I can find. That usually takes anywhere from two to five seconds. This week, that dubious honor almost belonged to Bush’s new claim that he never said that Iraq had anything to do with the events of Sept. 11, 2001. While that whopper is too much even for Burger King, I managed to find something even more impossibly bizarre.

While it has received no attention in the media, the state of Louisiana has decided to throw out its driver education manual in favor of locally produced ones. Their reasoning is that each parish has its own unique driving conditions. As anyone who has driven through south Louisiana knows, that is just common sense. With that in mind, I have secured permission from the Department of Public Safety to reprint choice excerpts of the new Lafayette Parish Driver’s Manual. With these enlightening bits of information, the parish—and myself—both hope to publicize proper driving habits:

“Cell phone use: it is in every driver’s best interest to stay on a cell phone as often as possible when on the road. This way, when an accident inevitably happens, at least one of the conversational parties (depending on the injury) can gossip about the accident faster.

“Driving while intoxicated: acceptable between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Friday and all day Saturday. If you are under 18 with a learner’s permit or intermediate license, you may drive intoxicated only with an adult 21 years or older in the front passenger seat.

“Four-way stops: what are those?

“Loud music: Lafayette Parish’s noise ordinance states specifically that ‘all music originating from cars must be played at a reasonable level, unless the music is by 50 Cent, who is the shizzle.’ The law does not apply to males between 16 and 21, who have no other way to prove their manhood.

“School busses: all school busses have indicator lights and miniature stop signs that swing out and flash during loading and unloading. While these signs clearly read “STOP” and emit powerful luminescent light, in no way do they mean you have to stop. This also applies to all regular stop signs.

“Tailgating: if you are in doubt as to whether you are acceptably following a vehicle, try the two-second test: pick an object parallel to the car in front of you and count off two seconds. If you get to the two-second mark before you reach the object with your own car, then you need to speed up, because there is still space between you and the car in front. If you can read the month off of the year sticker on the license plate in front of you, then you are tailgating properly.

“Turn signals: though factory-installed in all motor vehicles, use of blinking turn signals is illegal in Lafayette Parish. In no way should motorists feel compelled to give any signal whatsoever as to where he or she will suddenly move. It is safe automotive practice to swerve into the desired lane or intersection as quickly as possible.

“Work zone speed limits: being that road construction is a full-time hobby of the consolidated government, all drivers will from time to time see a reduced speed limit in work zones. This is a practical joke, of course. Drive faster than usual.”

I have to admit that I am impressed by how quickly and eagerly the motoring public has embraced the new rules.

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