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Stop, Look, Listen, and Engage Brain!

Updated: Jan 26

People resist change. Achieving and maintaining self-discipline in your personal life for example, by starting a diet after the gluttonous holidays, is one thing. When a lack of self-control affects and potentially hurts others it is time to take a hard look at your place as a member of society and how well you are doing to keep us all safe.


Taking a car on the road has stopped being a pleasurable interlude and is now fraught with danger. Talking on cell phones while driving is illegal, but people are devil-may-care and do it anyhow. When a car is wavering over the road even onto the shoulder, you can bet a phone is in use. Since when is keeping updated or responding to a message more important than everybody’s safety? Apparently, it is asking too much to pull off the road to take calls since doing so seems to be a rarity. I know of a woman who, while arguing by text with her boyfriend, crashed at high speed into a railroad embankment. A lack of self-control heightened by emotion can be deadly. Thankfully, this woman lived to tell the tale despite many injuries.


Seeing a car rushing to enter a line of moving traffic and slamming on the brakes over the crosswalk is another rude and obnoxious habit that has captured the fancy of many who know better. A driver placidly following along in a stream of traffic has no choice but to instinctively react when a car lurches toward him. This trend started perhaps as a joke or to wield power over an unsuspecting sucker obeying the law and has grown to huge proportions. People who were properly taught how to drive and to respect the rules of the road, (some with white hair) are as guilty of this odd maneuver as a beer-fueled novice showing off for buddies. Again, there is no law against it so, “Hey…lets have some fun and scare the socks off other drivers.”


Before Christmas, my husband and I witnessed one terrible car crash a day. Welcome to the hurly-burly holidays! We saw a person merging into traffic from a food store get hit hard enough to peel away the entire driver’s side of the car. Or perhaps the jaws of life took the car’s exterior when used to extract the driver.


The next day it was a daisy-chain pile-up beneath an underpass involving five cars, all of them with drivers who had been minding their own business and out of the blue got smashed from behind. Even if the damage was minimal, a car crash is a shock to the system and involves paperwork, most often with insurance companies being notified. Again, happy holidays. One selfish, distracted tailgater/phone user brought misery to many by casting self-restraint to the winds.


On the third day my husband’s, “Whoa!” alerted me to two cars colliding and car parts skittering over the road, into our lane. This event was especially poignant since the person hit was turning into a coffee shop. I wondered when he finally did get that cup of joe. Or was an oncoming driver in such an all-fired hurry he couldn’t be charitable and let the poor guy make his turn.


I was taught that on the highway you should keep one car length for every 10 miles per hour between cars for safety. The trend of locking onto the bumper of the car ahead at any speed is common practice and honestly, eludes me. I’ve seen in my rearview mirror, a parent tailgating with a child in the passenger seat. This gives new meaning to the words, “teachable moment.”


Where has self-restraint gone? These accidents could have been avoided if only drivers had used their heads. To this day I can hear my driver education instructor’s voice (it wasn’t soft or gentle) instilling right and wrong and drilling home the privilege of operating a motor vehicle and what it involved. Having control over one’s choices is a good and decent way to live. When did being responsible for your own actions become ‘uncool’ and fall into disfavor?




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