COLUMN: Dear Missourians, learn how to drive

Thursday, February 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:57 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It is not road rage. Really. Yes, I get loud and cuss, but it is not road rage. It is the latent New Yorker in me, like my brothers and sisters who learned how to drive in the Big Apple, on roads with names you know like the Long Island Expressway and Flatbush Avenue.

The only real drivers, the safest drivers, though a bit rude and obnoxious, are New Yorkers. Not those from upstate like Albany and Buffalo, but us from The City. Those who know how to “twak propa.” Those who know that no real New Yorker says “Yada, yada, yada.” Those who know that LaGuardia was a mayor. Those who know that B&B Bagels in Columbia is as close as you get to a REAL bagel (it’s the warta). Those who can say “Maspeth” without laughing. Those who know how to cuss in eight languages, American sign language not included.

So, here are my pet peeves about a small percentage of drivers from the middle of Middle America.

All New Yorkers know how to parallel park and love watching people making their fifteenth attempt in a VW Beetle to get into a space big enough for a Mack Truck.  Some advice … If you can’t, don’t. 

Parallel parking circa Fifth Avenue and 79th Street: Stop next to the target car. Back up. When the driver is even with the back wheel of the target car turn hard right, then hard left, then hard right, then straight. Yo! You’re in.

It’s called an “Acceleration Ramp.” Who is the fool who teaches people to decelerate when entering a highway? Cars on U.S. 63 are traveling 70 mph, 17 football fields plus another 60 yards in under than one minute. Why are you slowing down to 40 mph?

When on the highway maneuvering your one-ton personal transportation missile at breakneck speeds, think about the semi-truck trying to get on the interstate. Don’t block her out. Move over, slow down or accelerate (see above). Just get the heck out of the way! (Sorry)

And don’t speed up when getting off the highway just to get in front of the car trying to get on. This is when you DEcelerate. Hey fool, let the lady on the highway safely.

What’s in your wallet? A Sports Car Club of American race driver certificate? No? So don’t think that the road is your personal version of NASCAR. You do not know how to draft, your reaction time is not that fast, it is not appreciated and is illegal.

Behind me? Get off my butt, or I’ll slow down and make you later than you already think you are. (Oops, New Yorkese there.)

The speed limit through town on Interstate 70 is 60 mph On U.S.63, it’s 70. Not 120 and not 40. Both equally dangerous and if the cops don’t get you, my cousin Guido will.

Four-wheel drive does not mean four-wheel stop. Snow plus cold plus roads equals ice. There is no road-legal four-wheel drive vehicle that can stop on ice. Period.

Red means stop. Not put your foot on the brake pedal hard enough to show the brake lights and then run the intersection. Not stop with the nose of your car ten feet into the intersection. Not accelerate then brake at the last second. Stop.

Let the J-walker cross the street. A J-walker is not a target for your amusement and it is not a video game. J-walking is a victimless crime unless you hit the person.

Twenty miles-per-hour in a residential area is not a suggestion. Do I need to call Guido?

From the country and uneasy about driving in the “big city” of Columbia? Put one of those red-triangle-reflective thingies on the back of your car so others know you are a hazard.

Finally, leave the bicyclists alone. They ain’t hurting you, so don’t hurt them.

It is not that New Yorkers do not appreciate the light traffic. The majority of drivers are polite, helpful, friendly and courteous here in the center of the world. We do. Really. It’s the rest of those worthless pieces of c*&! (sorry) who should have their licenses permanently suspended.

I feel better now.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Read his blog at He welcomes your comments at

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bob wessler February 11, 2010 | 5:21 a.m.

Once you get past the first two paragraphs. HILARIOUS and so true. Do you think this could be posted at the DMV? Or at least distributed w/ a required signature when renewing a driver's license?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 11, 2010 | 6:10 a.m.

More than half a century ago those of us who came to Missouri from somewhat more civilized states or Canada were shocked to find that in Missouri at that time one could go to their local drug store and for a minimal fee obtain a driver's license.

No written exam; no driving exam!

For years we have blamed all bad driver behavior in Misouri on that circumstance, but in truth the Missourians who obtained their driver's licenses without written or driving exams have pretty much now gone to their eternal rewards or at least are no longer driving motor vehicles.

So what's the excuse today?

My favorite tactic, from the 1960s and 1970s when cars tended to be gargautuan in both dimensions and weight, was running the vehicle to somewhere in the vicinity of the curb, hopefully applying the brakes, and leaving the vehicle "parked" with the rear end sticking out into the traffic lane. "Non-parallel parking."

(Report Comment)
Gregory Mitchell February 11, 2010 | 3:03 p.m.

I can’t argue with you here, we native Missourians cannot drive. It might have something to do with the fact that when I took drivers ed in high School the teacher sat in the front seat and read the paper.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox February 12, 2010 | 8:42 a.m.

I agree with everything but the jaywalking, It's also dangerous and illegal, my reaction times aren't that fast, pop out between two parked cars and you may end up on my hood or even worse under my car. If jaywalking is a victimless crime unless you hit the person then so is driving on the sidewalk unless you hit a person. I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure in Missouri if you hit a jaywalker the crime was committed by the jaywalker.

(Report Comment)
Michael Schrantz February 12, 2010 | 2:51 p.m.

It's called a California stop. And as long as my plates still say that I will continue to do it.

(Report Comment)

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