Melanie Nimtz: Go easy, be patient
Driving around Steamboat Springs and Routt County, you may have noticed a couple of special cars on the road plastered with bright yellow “Student Driver” magnets. The drivers of these vehicles vary in experience of actual hours on our roadways but, in all reality, are new to the driving task.
In the three years of teaching both teens and adults how to drive, I would like to say “thank you” to those who are kind, patient and understanding of these learners. These students tend to drive at or below the speed limit, are not always sure of whose turn it is at a four-way stop and are typically a bit more cautious with lane changes and merges.
They are learning. The knowledge, confidence and experience stems from spending time behind the wheel, practicing on our roadways.
Most users we share the streets with have an understanding that the student drivers are learning. We have received lots of thumbs ups after a driver successfully parallel parks or drivers give them the right-of-way and wave them through a confusing, congested intersection. However, there have been several instances where patience has not been a virtue.
We have been passed over a double yellow going 23 mph in a 25-mph zone through The Sanctuary neighborhood. We have been flipped off for driving in the left lane coming into downtown, in a snow storm, going 20 mph, when traffic was so heavy, the student couldn’t make a lane change. We have been honked at for not turning right on red, which is an optional maneuver. I’ve received a nasty voicemail because a student driver wasn’t going 50 mph in a 45-mph zone.
Just as a friendly reminder, no one was born a great driver, and it is a skill we had to learn … by practicing. They might make mistakes, but please take a step back, remember what it was like to be a beginner and give these learners a break.
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