How not to be a garbage person when you’re driving
6:53 PM CDT on March 10, 2020
I know. I know. Your commute sucks. Driving sucks. I mean it’s fun sometimes. Like when you’re on a road trip in the mountains and you’re listening to a song you really feel. But, let’s be real, that’s like 4 percent of the time, generously speaking.
The rest of the time, driving can be a big chore. It feels like waiting in line, especially in traffic. Everyone’s pissed off. Sometimes it feels like everything — traffic lights, construction projects, that elderly lady crossing the street — is conspiring to ruin your day.
But they’re not. Because you’re not the center of the world. You’re a grownup. And driving is one activity where you can really impact other people. There’s a statistically not small chance you could kill or injure someone badly.
Americans have about a 1 in 100 chance of getting killed in a car crash over their lifetimes. These are not small odds! And your odds of being injured are much higher. But we all know this! Even so, 99 precent of everyone is acting like a compete sociopath every time they get behind the wheel of a car (or worse, SUV). Driving gives you power! Terrorists use cars and trucks as weapons! And power corrupts people. So we must consciously endeavor to be good people when we are driving.
But how, you say? Here is a handy guide to not being a complete garbage person while you drive.
#1. Yield to pedestrians for the love of God.
If you think about it, this should go without saying. But oh boy, does it not. Research has shown drivers only yield to pedestrians in uncontrolled crosswalks (crosswalks without traffic signals) about 16 percent of the time. The number one rule of not being a garbage person when you drive is this: If you encounter a pedestrian, err on the side of waiting an additional five seconds and not the side of killing/injuring/threatening them. OKAY!? Thanks in advance!
But what if they are jaywalking!!?! you say? It doesn’t matter! Do not think for a second you should also be using your 4,000 pound vehicle to vigilante enforce traffic laws against defenseless pedestrians. Jaywalking is the most harmless infraction in the world. It shouldn’t be a death sentence! Don’t let someone denying you for literally seconds turn you into a homicidal maniac. I know, it’s a lot to ask. But you would not lose your mind if a garbage truck delayed you momentarily and the health and well being of fellow human beings is just as important as garbage removal!
I’m gonna take this further too. Don’t use your vehicle to bully pedestrians into scurrying across the road faster either. Is your time really that valuable!? We all know it is not! No one needs to die so you can spend 6 extra seconds playing Candy Crush or watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Just chill and let that person out there trying to cross a nightmare seven lane suburban arterial to get to their low wage job do it with some small shred of dignity in tact.
#2. Slow down when you see children by the road. Seriously, you guys.
Kids these days, amirite?! All they do is play video games! Nobody plays outside like the. good. old. days. And if they do HELICOPTER PARENTS are hovering over them turning them in to weak-willed interpretive dance majors — probably!
Real talk here, though. People driving giant SUVs furiously through every neighborhood in America really limits kids’ freedom to roam and have fun. It forces their parents to drive them to school — and that just makes your commute more annoying.
So like just try not to make it worse. And don’t — God forbid — kill a kid by being a thoughtless driver. If you see kids by the road, playing ball, Pokemon Go whatever, just slow down.
Kids are unpredictable. Traffic safety research shows they don’t have the cognitive abilities to make sound judgements about interacting with vehicle traffic. It’s up to us to be responsible adults in this situation! Nevertheless, research indicates the average driver doesn’t slow down when they see kids by the road. Shame on us all! Do better!
#3. It’s not a race.
Human beings are full of spirt and ingenuity. When they are faced with the boring task of driving every day and they take these talents and they apply to the wrong things. They try to win the “forward position” in the lane. They try to shave like 37 seconds off a 20 minute trip.
This kind of stuff is not worth damaging your fender over, much less getting hurt! Still everyone thinks they are somehow gaming the system — winning! — by sorta kinda blowing red lights and all manner of jerky behavior.
Real talk though: You look like a chump trying to race from traffic light to traffic light. The cyclist you angrily passed 40 feet back is laughing in your face when they arrive at the red light next to you. You are just wasting gas, spinning your wheels, stressing yourself out.
The truth is you don’t have much control over how fast you’re getting anywhere. Even on long-distance trips on highways, speeding saves you surprisingly little time and increases not only your chances of wrecking but your chances of getting injured/injuring someone else if you do wreck literally exponentially. It’s physics!
What really determines how fast you get to your destination isn’t how fast you travel, but how much time you spend stopped. And the sad, sorry, ugly truth is you don’t have very much control over that.
Here’s a driving hack that will save you a lot of stress and could save your life: Instead of trying to race wherever you’re going, just do your best to arrive there safely. That you really have a lot of control over.
Quick test to determine whether you are, indeed, a garbage person when you drive: Do you ever look back at something you did on the road and feel bad about it? Regret it? Well you should! We all mess up sometimes. Even though we have all this anonymity, driving isn’t like a video game. It is part of our lives, part of the legacy we leave as people.
Now take these three simple rules, go forth, and drive like a decent human being!
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