Viewpoint: Texans need to go back to driving school for Pete’s sake

Photo courtesy of Mortiz Kindler/ Unsplash

Alex Hoben
photo editor

Texas drivers have damn well lost their minds, and I’m tired of it.

It seems like everyone just decided when they returned onto highways, they have something to prove with how crazy they drive. Loop 12 turned into “Mad Max: Fury Road,” 360 has become a swerving storm and city driving has become a public hazard.

In 2020, Tarrant County ranked third in the amount of fatal, distracted driving crashes, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. But it’s not just here in the DFW area. This motor mayhem has spread throughout the state. There was an 18.94% increase in the fatality rate on Texas roadways from 2019 to 2020. It also reported how there were no deathless days on roadways that year.

Photo courtesy of Louis DeLuca/Dallas Morning News
Loop 12 Dallas, TX

As someone who is learning to drive now — because of the poor public transportation options between campuses — I am incredibly annoyed that the roads I’m contending with are a free-for-all. I am already nervous behind the wheel, and having people zoom by me going 70-75 on an access road where the speed limit is 45 does nothing to help that anxiety.

Now, you could make the argument that getting used to this kind of driving is a sort of trial by fire every proud Texan has to go through so they can survive the horror that is Austin city traffic, but that was before the pandemic. Before the majority of us were locked in our homes, only driving out to far destinations maybe twice a week.

We are living in a world where many have forgotten how to use a turn signal, and we’re all on edge. Drivers are irritable and ready to take any risk they can just to recapture that freedom we had before COVID-19 struck. But those of us who may be learning or are more cautious when driving are being put through borderline psychological warfare when it comes to these amateur daredevils.

Photo Courtesy Lady I35E south, Dallas, TX

It’s even present in more rural communities. During this past Thanksgiving break, I visited family in deep West Texas, and on the two-hour drive, we saw at least eight dead deer. Yeah, eight, and all on the same road. It was like there was a local competition to see who could kill the most local wildlife.

Not only is there a car shortage due to the lack of manufactured computer chips, but by some stroke of luck, I was able to get a car that suits me incredibly well. I love that car. It’s a nice, volcanic red compact minivan that I had to fight tooth and nail to get.  If I see one more person swerve in front of me without any sort of turn signal, endangering me and my lovely new car — that I have already named “Ronaldo” — this miracle on wheels with air conditioning, I’m going to lose my mind.