My mom was driving down my street with a truck right up on her tail. As she continued straight he sped up to pass her, make a left turn, and flip her the finger. It was multi-tasking at it’s finest. He angrily gunned his big, muffler-less, truck around that corner, after putting my 70 year old mom in her place. I can just see this red-faced, angry little man overcompensating for his size with a big set of truck nuts.
I live on an Avenue 600 meters long. At either end is a playground zone with a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr. The part in between these two zones is 200 meters long. We have a huge school at one end and a community water park/playground/Church at the other. Speeding down these narrow roads is not going to gain one much time. Although it’s completely irrational, when stuck behind a driver who chooses to follow the rules, the crummy drivers behind lose their minds in a helpless rage, wanting more than ever to go faster.
A child was hit by a speeding car in front of my house a few summers ago. The child flew over the car’s hood landing on the boulevard in front of Willow (Yes, we named our house). I was first on the scene, with 911 on the line. My voice shaky, I relayed what I saw. I’ll never forget the driver’s face. He was a big, tattooed guy with long hair, and he was visibly shaken, on the verge of tears, and couldn’t utter a word. I am pretty sure that whatever he was in such a hurry for didn’t seem so important anymore.
My empathetic side wanted to hug him and say “Its okay, you didn’t mean to”. My darker side was calling him a self-centered idiot. Choosing to obey traffic limitations is like choosing to getting vaccinated. If you don’t do it you are depending on the rest of society to do it to keep you and everyone else safe. You can drive like an ass as long as everyone else is being careful and on the lookout for your unpredictable behavior.
One of the biggest hazards of driving a car stems from the fact that we must share the road with others. It’s common to have one person per car and I can see how this makes us forget that we are sharing. For the system to work we need universal safety rules and if they aren’t followed by us all, everyone is at risk.
It’s upsetting for anyone on the receiving end of this type of stress-pass-down that we have come to know as road rage. I feel especially bad for the aging population who have to face it. I have always had a soft spot for older people but I, too, am getting older and will soon find things will take me more time or thought. This should be the best time when we can slow down and appreciate everything around us. But it sounds a little scary to play amongst a bunch of angry people in hurry.
It would be great if we all could enjoying driving again. Let’s take it a little slower, put on some great music (see below) and enjoy the drive. If it’s really important to be on time, leave earlier. Alternately, if you are prone to angry driving, consider taking the bus – it could completely turn your life around and make the roads safer for everyone.
I mostly wrote this before the world was forced to chill out to slow the spread of COVID-19. Now, here, we are in the upsurge of this infection and with many things closing down we will have time to evaluate our roles in this giant system. Are our actions a good representation of the way we want to be? Or is cruise control taking the reins? I hope we will see who and what we are missing when we rush through every day. Maybe through this terrible thing we can become more humane, more considerate of the effect our actions have on the rest of life on Earth. That would be a very good thing.