Why is driving so dangerous? Is it really a question of control?

by — Feb. 9, 2001 (Comments)

Those are questions I have begun to ask myself. Driving is driving me crazy! Everyone of my immediate family has been in bad accidents over the years, through no fault of their own. Is it a matter of control that people become angry and drive uncontrollably? Do they feel that if they don’t take control, they are being controlled? This is a world where we have lost control in our jobs, our business transactions, and in our lives.

If someone cuts you off in traffic, do you feel angry because they were rude, or because you lost control of the situation. Are you acting or reacting to driving situations? By acting, you are a careful driver, but if you are reacting to a situation, you could be the cause of an accident, even though you were the one cut off.

Who is controlling me? Am I in control? Who am I controlling? Am I reacting or acting? I would like to allow myself to always act instead of react. Therefore, I must be prepared. Prepared for what?

For example, driving has become a threatening situation. By looking at it through a different perspective, that of control, anger and threats could manifest through our personality toward another person. I only realized it last evening. A young boy was trying to cross the street in front of the school. He was afraid to step into the crosswalk. However, I looked in my rearview mirror and decided that I could carefully stop and allow the young boy to cross the street. The car behind me was far enough away to interpret the break lights to show I was stopping. The young boy only got ½ way across the street and waited, as soon as people in the other lane realized what was going on (the first one saw the situation too late to act), stopped so that the young boy was able to cross the street safely (within the walk zone).

I realized I was in control of that whole situation. The young boy did not step out and force us to stop so that he could cross (although by law that is what he could have done). I saw the situation and the line of cars in both directions and decided to give him a break. I was in charge. I stopped the traffic from both directions and I allowed him to cross the street safely and in record time.

On the other hand, if a person cuts me off. I become angry (no not road rage). As the person who is now following, I must go their speed, stop suddenly because they pulled in front of me, then they proceed to slow me down and turn off the highway. Why didn’t they stay behind me when their turn was so close? The nerve, people slow me down, yet if I would slow them down, they sound like a bunch of geese (honking).

Another situation that seems to be a serious problem is the very slow driver. It is frustrating to be behind someone who is going 10-20 miles per hour slower than the speed limit. On days I do not have to go to work, I have the patience for it, on days where I need to be at work and have allowed an extra 15 minutes to get there, 15 minutes is not enough in this case and it is very frustrating. No I don’t honk, or tailgate, however, these are two aggressive actions that are rude, can cause a driver to be spooked or cause an accident because the spooked driver braked instead of accelerated. Slow drivers should drive after 8:30 and before 4:00 p.m. (Yes, I know, I’m trying to control the other person and not the situation.) Why are early bird specials during 5:00 p.m. rush hour? Someone is playing a cruel trick on 8 to 5 working people. Is the slow driver trying to control his situation? Probably, but not the kind of control I was previously discussing. If they can slow down traffic, they will be comfortable driving in it. Has this ever happened? I don’t think so.

The other serious problem is the fast driver. He is usually the driver who uses his horn like he uses his brakes because he is too close to the car ahead of him. There are many reasons I can think of that a driver drives fast. For example, but not inclusive: inexperience, their prior learning experience, kind of traffic where they originally came from, they are always late for everything, there is an emergency situation, they just stopped smoking or have a nervous habit, they are on a cell phone and the news is either bad or good or they are very distracted by it, they have a death wish, they are emotionally challenged at this time in their life, or they have a control problem. Any of these situations make for a very dangerous driver, and I am not even going to talk about substance abuse.

We all want to control our own lives (OK and sometimes the lives of others, but that’s a story for another time). No one likes to be controlled. We realize that we must compromise in certain situations, in order to keep a job, or with our family. However, when we are behind the wheel of a car, we think we are invincible. Let’s rethink and act instead of reacting to situations, the life you save may be your own or your family’s. Children are great observers and imitators; they will see your actions or reactions and adopt those in their future. You certainly want to prepare your children to be the best driver they can be and a reactionary driver can be a dangerous driver. A driver who acts is one who is completely in control of himself and his situation. Others are controlling a driver who reacts. Road rage is reactionary by someone who is not in control of his life or his emotions.

Actually, it’s not a question of what others think; it’s what you think of yourself. How do you want your children to think of you? Do you want your children to see you react? They will probably grow up to be just like you? Treat yourself the best that you can. Save yourself the time and trouble of becoming angry. Someone who drives offensively has many more problems than you can ever imagine and could turn around and shoot you.

There are so many areas of your life that you can control and this is just one of them that is so very important to you and your family. Take care of yourself and give your car the maintenance it deserves and watch out for the other driver. Be Safe!