Driving Miss Dzesika

Soon there will be a lot more women tearing up the highways in Lithuania. That is, of course, assuming the highways aren’t too torn up to drive on. The Lithuanian Minister of Health, as part of a new initiative to drag the country kicking and screaming into the 19th century, recently scrapped a law that forced women to undergo a gynecological exam in order to get their driver’s license. It’s true. While this law was unfair, totally uncalled for, and extremely uncomfortable for the women, it did make Lithuanian Driver’s License Examiner one of the most sought after jobs in Eastern Europe. Now, thanks to this change, it will be much easier for women there to get a license. All they’ll need to do is bring a note from their father or husband, pass a driving test, and pat their head and rub their tummy in a circular motion while whistling the Lithuanian national anthem backwards. Just kidding. Actually their national anthem already is backwards.

It’s about time they cleared this law from the books. After all, Lithuanian men don’t have to turn their head and cough, have their prostate examined, or get their sperm count checked before they drive, though maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea since it’s much safer than having the procedures performed while they drive. The law is a remnant of the country’s previous incarnation as part of the Soviet Union. At the time they thought women were susceptible to diseases that could be so painful they would affect their driving ability. It was okay to have chronic back problems, debilitating migraines, and a propensity to suck down massive quantities of vodka, but god help you if you had female problems. And you thought no one in the Soviet Union had a sense of humor.

The truth is, additional testing before being issued a driver’s license isn’t such a bad idea, even here in the U.S., though of course the tests should be the same for men and women and not involve a gynecologist. As it is now, all you need to do is pass a written exam, read an eye chart, and take a quick drive around the block to prove you can make it to the 7-11 and back without mowing down any pedestrians, ramming a police car, or spilling any of your 3-quart Big Gulp in the limited edition Bob Patterson cup, which is actually more limited than the TV show was. If that’s possible.

That’s a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. If we really want to make the roads safer we need to add a few more tests. For one, applicants should be required to take a memory test to see if they can recall what that lighted arrow on the left hand side of the dashboard that’s been blinking for 20 minutes even though they’ve been driving in a straight line for an hour is there for. They should have to successfully complete a multi-tasking test to see if they’re able to talk on a cell phone, eat a taco, comb their hair in the rear view mirror, and drive at the same time. Any two out of four would be good enough to pass. And finally, all drivers age 65 and older should have to be tested every year to see if they have the strength to step on the gas pedal hard enough so the car can reach a speed equaling at least 50 percent of the posted limit. And do it while driving in the far right hand lane. Assuming, of course, they can see over the steering wheel.

The truth is, we really have no right to make fun of Lithuanian driving laws. After all, we have plenty of strange ones ourselves. In Alabama it’s illegal to drive a car while blindfolded. In California women can’t drive while wearing a housecoat. (It’s also illegal in California for any vehicle without a driver to go faster than 60 miles per hour, but if there’s no driver it’s questionable whether or not that can be considered a driving law.) And in Detroit they’ve really put their foot down, and it’s definitely on the brake pedal. There it’s illegal to have sex in an automobile unless it’s parked on your own property. Except, of course, if you’re role playing Lithuanian Driving Instructor and Student and you’re being given an official prostate exam and sperm count test.

Adding these new tests would help save lives at the same time they would keep our tempers and blood pressure down. This is what’s known as a win-win situation, to quote a phrase which should never be quoted. Remember that driving is a privilege and not a right. And that arrow on the road sign ahead means you can make a left and not a right. Therefore, driving is a privilege and a left turn, something even Einstein couldn’t have predicted. Come to think of it, he also didn’t predict that Lithuania would come to its senses and realize that women have as much right to drive as men. Where did he get his math license, K-Mart?

More Mad Dog can be found online at: www.maddogproductions.com. His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It’s Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email: md@maddogproductions.com

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