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by Abigail Van Buren

Drivers in America Are Spinning Out of Control

DEAR ABBY: Are America's drivers totally out of control, or am I getting crochety at age 56? Their behavior behind the wheel is deadly at the worst, and scary to say the least.

Seat belts and air bags do not guarantee survival in a crash. Didn't these drivers once know all the road rules so they could pass the driver's test?

Almost daily, I see drivers ignoring emergency vehicles, running red lights, jumping green lights, following too close, changing lanes into a space not long enough to parallel park, exceeding speed limits by at least 15 mph, blocking intersections, changing lanes and entering highways without looking or signaling, and crossing solid yellow and white lines.

The driver who zips through one to five lanes to a freeway exit usually lives in that same county, and should know to get in the proper lane long before the exit. The driver behind me is dangerously close if I cannot see the car's headlights (regular-sized car) or the bumper (SUV/truck) in my rearview mirror.

Driving is a privilege -- not a right. -- DIANE LAZARUS, CINCINNATI

DEAR DIANE: Right you are. The dangers you have listed result from irresponsibility, a sense of entitlement and just plain rudeness. Add to that people driving drunk, and you have a surefire recipe for disaster. That's why it's important to urge loved ones to drive courteously -- and defensively.

DEAR ABBY: My name is Lindsay, and I recently turned 14. I wanted to go to the mall with this guy who is 16, but my mom said not until I am 16. She said I can go out with groups when I am 14 and 15 -- but I can't go out with guys even if I'm not really dating them.

I feel she doesn't trust me because I really like to hang out with my guy friend, but she obviously has a problem with it. I think it might be because my older sister had a baby at 17. When I asked her, she said that wasn't it.

I need to know how to get my mother to let me go out so I can have some fun in my life and not feel I'm being imprisoned. Please help. -- PRISONER AT 14

DEAR 14: Trust is built on confidence, and it takes time to build confidence. Your mother may seem overly protective to you, but she's only doing what many parents do these days. She wants you to have the protection of being in a group.

One way to increase your mother's level of confidence in you is by volunteering information about what you are doing and confiding in her. And when you are asked to do something, instead of complaining about it -- do it. Don't make excuses. Perform like a mature adult and try to see things from her perspective, and you'll earn your mother's respect. She's a wise and caring parent, and she deserves it.

DEAR ABBY: I should have taken your advice. About 40 or 45 years ago, I asked you about my wife having "hang-ups" with intimacy. You advised me to go to a psychiatrist, but at the time I couldn't afford it. I should have taken your advice, Abby. It would have been worth it.

Six years ago we finally did go to a psychologist, and in time, our problem was resolved and life began at 70. -- GRATEFUL IN LAKE WALES, FLA.

DEAR GRATEFUL: I'm pleased that my advice was helpful. Better late than never.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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