As the cool Fall air moved into the region, I made a concerted effort to get Benedict outside more. We ran around in the yard, cleaned up our garden, and put away flower pots. He’s a determined little guy who loves his freedom, so we’d also walk the 50 yards or so of sidewalk in front of our house. Since I regularly take him on my walk with me (he rides in the stroller), he’s had plenty of opportunity to see cars drive by. During our walks on the sidewalk, he’d stop for every car, yell “HI!” and wave as they passed by. Many drivers looked and waved back, most did not.
Are we really so distracted that we miss a 3ft child waving at us as we drive by?
Driving is one of the most dangerous things that you and I do on a daily basis. Although we’ve grown complacent in our surroundings and confident in our abilities, the fact remains that driving is an activity that demands total focus. Even a momentary lapse of judgement could result in serious bodily injury or death. The complacency is what’s really getting to us. We’re too comfortable. We’re comfortable enough to text, to talk on the phone, and even to develop tunnel vision.
The result of this complacency and comfort is experienced by each of us every time we drive. Motorcyclists drive near the centerline, changing lanes without signaling, and rapidly accelerating and decelerating. Vans drive slower than expected, drift, and make sudden corrections. Motorists unfamiliar with a particular area drive erratically as they seek to balance finding their destination and not crashing. Drivers text while traveling at speed on highways, or even in dense congestion.
While this is partly a warning about the dangers of complacency while driving, it’s also a warning against tunnel vision. We often only look out the window to glare at someone who’s driving habits displease us. We can’t be complacent, we can’t be comfortable, but we also can’t be solely focused on what’s ahead.
Drive safely, drive defensively, but also be aware enough of your surroundings that you can anticipate changing situations and keep your passengers safe. We need to bring safety and courtesy back to the road, and it begins when you and I get behind the wheel.