Dear Click and Clack:

As I was cleaning my house this last week, I heard your patheticweekly broadcast over the Armed Forces Radio Network. As yourvoices filled my home, I found myself questioning the decision ofthe Pentagon, which I assume thought the military would enjoylistening. I found myself in a sort of daze, unable to turn offwhat I was repulsed by. I kept thinking, I serve my countryproudly in the U.S. Navy, and this is what they give me?! Alas,though, this is not the reason why I am writing to you both.

At the end of your show a caller called in about hisgirlfriend's choosing to stop at a four-way stop and let everyonewait until she was done speaking before she moved her car. Youboth proceeded to blame all bad driving in America on theincreasing numbers of women drivers. I have to say that I must protest.Women are not the worst drivers; Italians are.

I have been living and driving here in Sicily for about a yearand a half. During that time I have witnessed a long list ofbad driving techniques that are too numerous to mention. I willgive you the brief version.

1. Italians don't believe in pulling over to the side of theroad when they stop. They will stop anywhere, anytime,anyplace. They don't care if they are blocking traffic for amile. Hey, if Giuseppe sees Vinny coming down the opposite sideof the road, what is the problem with stopping to talk to eachother? Who pulls over? Only the wimpy Americans.

2. It is against the law to talk on a cell phone while drivinghere. But, really, since when did anyone follow the law here? Ifollowed a guy yesterday for about 10 miles. It was a two-laneroad through vineyards and was very windy (like all the roads hereare). FOR 10 MILES this guy was talking on the phone, speedingup the car, slowing down the car, weaving across the road,weaving back across the road. And since Italians are soanimated when they talk, there was much of that drive where Icould see both of his hands in the air while he was driving.

And you say women are bad!

3. Speed is no issue here. Italians are one of twothings: in a hurry to get to dinner or in no hurry because theyjust ate. In a country that makes some of the fastest cars, yousure wouldn't know it. When I drive across the island of Sicilyto visit the catacombs in Palermo, I spend most of my timeweaving in and out of traffic -- not because I want to, because Ihave to. It is a normal occurrence to come over a crest and allof a sudden be faced with a car traveling at about 35 mph (ONTHE FREEWAY!!!). When you try to move over to go around, younotice that in the fast lane cars are traveling anywhere from55 mph to 150 mph.

Have I mentioned yet that women rarely drive in this society?

Have I mentioned that it is about 95 percent men on the roads here?

Tom and Ray, you should know better than to tell a populationthat is 50 percent women that they are bad drivers. I am sure I am notthe only one who wrote in disgust. However, I still feel myselfstrongly drawn to your show to hear what will come out of yourmouths this week.

Sarah P. Merryman

[ As Read on Car Talk ]