We’ve passed the date of January 1, 2014 and for many Illinois interstates it means the end to the 55 mph speed limit and the beginning of the 70 mph. Now more than ever it is important to look at who is driving in front of you, beside you and behind you. So who exactly is driving? You’d be surprised!

Recently I discovered the truth and like Mark Twain said, truth is stranger than fiction. It scared me. John Kass a writer for the Chicago Tribune did an article on the new rules for driving and parking for free in Illinois. To keep fraud at bay, drivers will find new requirements starting the beginning of this new year, 2014. No more will perfectly healthy people be able to cheat and park dor free with grandma or grandpa’s still valid placard.

I used to think some things were a given. For starters I thought you had to be a US citizen to get a license. Not so. You don’t have to speak English or even understand it. I would hope those drivers at least know the difference between red, yellow and green, stop and go.

I also used to think that you needed two good working legs, arms, feet and hands. It’s scary to find out those aren’t requirments either. By now you might be wondering what I mean. Trust me, you’ll look at driving a whole different way the next time you get behind the wheel. I know I do.

So who are people that have a valid drivers licenses? Practically everyone. Now don’t get me wrong. I do believe in freedom. I do believe people should have the right to go where they want to go. However, they as well as the law makers, need to understand and put the safety of the masses ahead of the few. Most people have at least a friend or two who would be willing to give them a lift, or could possibly walk, wheel themselves or take public transportation, thus allowing for greater safety and less loss of life.

January 1, 2014 starts the first day of use for the new yellow and gray disabled-parking placard. People with these cards (issued by their doctor) have one or more of the following ailment allowing them a free parking pass on Chicago meters and a Valid drivers license.

* Can not feed pay boxes or meters from wheelchair. (We have people in wheelchairs driving?)

* Suffers loss of fine motor control in both hands. (So they only need to drive with one hand on the stering wheel? What if they hit an ice patch? They’re going to be able to keep a firm grip? Stay out of the opposite lane? Avoid hitting another vehical?!)

* Can’t walk more than 20 feet because of an orthopedic, neurological, lung or cardiovascular ailment. (So they are prone to an attack of the nervous system (if their body twitches it’s ok, right?), problems with breathing (If they blank out for a moment the car will continue driving straight in the correct lane?), possibly having their heart stop? (No problem! )We’ll give them a license.

* Can’t reach above his or her head to a height of 42 inches above the ground. (That’s only 3.5 feet. They can’t reach the meter to put a coin in but they can drive the car?)

So do you feel safe with these drivers passing you, speeding beside you at 70 mph or even parking? I don’t. I know they want their independence but sometimes not all things are possible to all. Please spread the word and drive safely. You never know who shares the road with you.

References:

For blue-card scammers, the jig will be up soon
By John Kass

jskass@tribune.com
Twitter @John_Kass

Chicago Tribune
Sunday 12-23-13 Section 1, Page 2

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