Lisa Scottoline: 55 is the new 70

Francesca and I just returned from a book tour, driving to bookstores in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. It was wonderful to meet our readers, and the only downside of the tour was the fault of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.

Let me explain.

Loyal readers know I'm not the bravest driver in the world, especially when I'm crossing the Bay Bridge in Maryland. In fact, Francesca drove us over the bridge while I was in the passenger seat, driving myself over the deep end.

I would like to meet the person who designed the Bay Bridge, which zooms straight up into the clouds, veers left at a seagull, reaches heaven, and then plunges back down again, barely skimming the top of the briny deep.

It's not a bridge, it's a roller coaster.

I had been dreading the Bay Bridge since before the tour started, when I looked at Google Maps, determined we had to cross the bridge, and then noticed an article reporting that the bridge is so terrifying there's a service whereby people will drive your car over the bridge for you.

While you pee yourself in the backseat.

The cost for this service is $25, but I would've paid $250, though, unfortunately, the service has to be booked a few months in advance because sanity still exists.

I wish I could meet the people who booked the service. I feel sure my future ex-husband would be among them.

So Francesca got us over the bridge, but I took the wheel when we crossed into Pennsylvania, where I got mad at my own commonwealth. Because when I wasn't looking, the Turnpike Commission raised the speed limit to 70. Of course, if the speed limit is 70, everyone's going 75 and even 80, with the result being that your favorite author - me - was doing 55 in the slow lane.

Because I still remember "55 Stay Alive."

In fact, I could find statistics that prove there are fewer accidents at a speed limit of 55, but I can't look it up right now as I am still shaking from driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Anyway, you don't need statistics when you have common sense, and it makes sense that if you drive slower, you're less likely to have an accident. Or if you have an accident, it's less likely to be one that turns you into middle-age road pizza.

In any event, you can imagine how the trip through Pennsylvania went, as I drove in the slow lane doing a completely sensible 55, but was nevertheless honked at, tailgated, and given the finger 55 times, which I'm pretty sure was a coincidence.

Needless to say, my beloved daughter watched cars passing us with increasing horror. "Mom," Francesca said, "you have to speed up."

"No, I refuse."

"But this isn't a safe speed."

"Incorrect. I'm the only one going a safe speed. Every other single person on the highway is going an unsafe speed."

Mutual unhappiness ensued.

The only time I felt relaxed was when we drove through a work zone, where the speed limit lowered to 40 and everyone else drove at a snail's pace, too.

World Order, restored.

I love the work zone. I would live in the work zone if I could. Orange really is the new black.

Everyone else complains about highway construction.

I pray for it.

Otherwise, I felt most scared by big trucks, and when I saw them behind me, I would put on my hazard lights to let them know I was a nervous author driving at a speed limit that doesn't exist anymore.

Some of them passed me, but others rode my bumper, flashed their lights, and gunned their engines, and I can't tell you that I thought nice things about them. That is, until a lovely woman at one of our signings said that she loved our books and also that she was a trucker.

She bought a book, and I liked truckers all over again.

I'm easy that way.

But by the end of the trip, which also took us over the Fall River bridge in Massachusetts, as well as the Bourne and the Sagamore Bridges in Cape Cod, I hated driving altogether. Even when Francesca was doing the driving, which she was, for all of the above.

So this is my message to my amazing daughter, who showed skill and courage behind the wheel:

Thank you.

And this is my message to the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, which made me feel unsafe on the roads of my very own state:

Maybe not in a family newspaper.

Look for Lisa and Francesca's new humor collection, "I've Got Sand in All the Wrong Places," and Lisa's new emotional thriller, "Most Wanted," in stores now.

Also, look for Lisa's new Rosato & DiNunzio novel, "Damaged," coming Aug. 16.

lisa@scottoline.com.