Are you a calm, attentive driver?

This morning, a woman in a green Chevy cut in front of a blue Honda driver in a snap. He swerved out of his lane onto the right lane, causing a black Ford truck to jerk into the bicycle lane. Had a cyclist been present there at that instant, he/she would certainly have been crushed to death.

Lots of honking ensued.

As I pulled next to the lady in the green car I saw that she was on the phone, had a map open on her steering wheel, and was gesturing as if she didn’t know where to head. The guy in the blue Honda had rolled down his window and he was shouting profanities. While the tattooed Ford driver, now behind her, was showing her his middle finger.

This wasn’t a new sight, but the reason I write about it today is precisely that — it has become commonplace.

During my daily commute I see drivers honking, giving each other the middle finger, cutting across lanes dangerously, almost running over pedestrians even when the latter have the right of way, and turning left at a traffic signal way past their green light.

And then there are those texting, talking on the phone, applying eye-liner, painting their nails, watching a DVD (yes, I’ve seen that!!), reading the newspaper, eating and holding the phone at the same time, and turning around to feed their toddler in the back seat — these are the folks who ask for all the honking and the verbal abuses. We have laws against some of these things these distracted drivers indulge in, but they could care less!

It amazes me how, when we are driving a vehicle, we forget that we’re not just responsible for the lives of those traveling with us, but also our co-motorists.

It’s not until we lose someone close to us that we feel the impact of this unsafe behavior.

But isn’t it too late by then?

What have we to gain from an extra two-to-five seconds? Why do we put our life in jeopardy just to make that green signal, only to queue up at the next red one? Why are we so uncivil, so uncouth in the face of anonymity? Why can’t we stop somewhere, finish our lunch and then carry on — all it takes is five minutes! Can’t that glossy lip liner be applied in the parking lot of wherever it is you’re headed? Can’t you tell the person on the phone you’ll pull over and call back? Why does anything go? Just because the driver you’re bumping will most likely not chase you down and demand an apology?

New York topped the list as America’s Road Rage Capital in 2009, but I see more and more of it happening in the Bay Area despite California being the only state in the country to have a court-ordered suspension for this “assault.”

I don’t have any answers or an explanation for this complete and utter disregard of human life, but I hope some of you reading this will recognize this as an opportunity to amend your ways and ask those unsafe drivers in your life to amend theirs.

Getting that tweet out when you’re merging onto the highway is not worth your life! And cursing someone out only increases your blood pressure.

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7 Comments

Filed under Personal

7 responses to “Are you a calm, attentive driver?

  1. Thanks Mansi I hope it does help some people change their driving habits. Overall I’m a pretty calm driver but I can provoked like anyone else when I’m cut-off. The Bay area wasn’t too bad when I lived out there actually reminded me of the traffic in Chicago but the LA that’s the worst I ever saw….even to this day.

    Hugs,

    Bill

  2. I am also in situation like Lazy Pineapple. My place is Olathe, KS, USA. Here I have seen at the lights, as it goes from red to green, sometimes the front car driver is lost for a moment and fail to move, all the cars behind him politely wait for him or her to move and while doing so no one honks or make any gestures. That is common place here 🙂 It is very rare to see people honk, and when it happens I am 100% sure the honker is undergoing extraordinary circumstance or maybe the other guy just cut in so dangerously,w without indicator, that he or she really needs a nudge for sake of so many lives.

    Does this and other stories here imply that honking is a function of bigness of a city?

    BTW, what is the trick in creating these animations, they are so nice!

    • It’s possible that there’s a grain of truth in what you’re saying about big vs. small city driving. When I was in Iowa City for two years, I don’t remember encountering road rage EVER! People would pull over if there was an ambulance or fire truck approaching from the other side of the road .. here folks “think” about it when these emergency vehicles are on their side!! It was such a lovely slow, quiet pace of life…

      As for the illustrations, I just do “smart” keyword searches on Google Images and try to use ones that don’t have copyright issues 🙂

  3. I live in the NY metropolitan area, so unfortunately I know this behavior too well! But I did see that my behavior was getting out of control. I have calmed down my road rage and I only talk on my cell phone with a hands-free blue tooth. After 2 speeding tickets within a year, I decided to stop doing that, too! They probably saved my life!

  4. Mansi you are so on spot. I too do not understand what makes us turn off our brains when we get behind the wheel. They can enact millions of laws but they can’t legislate common sense, respect and the ‘ego’ that says ‘It’s all about me.’ I am constantly amazed at the people who blow through crosswalks almost hitting the pedestrian. Great ‘photography’ writing, I could see it all.

  5. Things are much better here in Lancaster UK. I am yet to see such rash behaviour. I am sure bigger cities do have this problem.

    It is awful when such people just disregard their own lives and that of others too….

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