I live in the suburbs like millions of other Americans and commute to work daily. Normally, I have about a 30 to 40 minute commute, depending on traffic. Lately, due to construction on the Interstate, my commute time has become greatly increased, more like an hour a day – each way. Spending this much time on the road, I’ve become increasingly aware of the driving behaviors of people and their seeming unwillingness to drive in a sane and reasonable manner.
Speeding, changing lanes without signals, cutting off other cars, and my pet peeve – tailgating, are common fare on the Interstates of Nashville. It strikes me that something is terribly wrong. Scarcely a day goes by that I don’t see at least one incident that probably should be reported to the police: an accident, a stranded motorist, a stray animal on the roadway, a huge piece of rubber tire, or potholes in the road. Between construction, road hazards, discourteous drivers, and more cars on the road every day, it becomes increasingly frustrating and difficult to survive.
Many people are fighting this frustration with an escalated aggression that has been dubbed “road rage.” Indeed, we have probably all seen or experienced it. The car that tailgates to force us to change lanes, the car that cuts us off with a rapid lane change, the car that weaves in a out of traffic to stay in a lane perceived to be moving a bit faster. No wonder we are killing ourselves and each other in record numbers – a useless loss.
Many solutions have been suggested: more law enforcement, improved roads, safer cars, drivers’ education. Good ideas, yet, these are external solutions. The real solution is within each of us. We must change our attitudes toward each other and drive with a more tolerance and courtesy. Never happen? But look how attitude has changed toward wearing seat belts and drunk driving. We can do better than we are doing. We cannot wait for the other person to change first. It has to be an individual commitment from each of us – and it has to be soon.
Folks, we are not in the Indianapolis 500. It does not matter who gets there first or fastest. You think you are the only person who knows how to drive? So give the rest of ’em a break! Rediscover the speed limit. If they want to pass you, let ’em. So what? You’ve got nothing to prove. If you get home from work 5 or 10 minutes later, will it really matter? So, let that truck merge in front of you. He’s a professional driver and in this traffic all day – do a random act of kindness. So, that stupid lady is on a cell phone and won’t get out of your way? Empathize. Maybe she’s worried sick about the kids at home.
Let’s not be caught up in this madness on the highways. Sure, we’ve got to go with the flow, but we don’t have to be rude and we don’t have to become angry with others because they are so often discourteous. It doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. We cannot control others and we cannot change the world – but we can each change ourselves.
Give a little. Stay alive. Take it easy out there. I am!