Stop Kidding Yourself!


The debate over whether or not to lift the “national speed limit” of 55 mph, which resulted in a bill which allows states to decide maximum speed limits for themselves, was ludicrous. Let’s get real. When asked on national television what she thought about increased speed limits, one young lady summed it up nicely by saying, “That’s cool, now we can do legally what most of us have been doing illegally all along.” Habitual speeders will break the law regardless of posted speed limits and will continue to do so unless two dramatic but unlikely changes take place. I won’t hold my breath.

The first is a monumental overhaul of driver attitudes. We’re caught up in this notion that faster is cooler. It started with the self-gratifying “me generation” of the sixties and morphed into the do-it-now, have-it-now, and get-there-now can’t wait attitude of today. I call it the “NASCAR Wannabe” syndrome. Professional racing drivers will be the first to tell you that faster has its place, but the place is not on public roadways.

This attitude change has to go far deeper than just knowing the consequences of excessive speed. Any thinking driver knows that the small amount of time, if any, that one might gain by speeding is not worth the risk and that any reduction in speed will reduce the force of impact in a crash and thereby reduce the extent of injury and odds of a fatality. And, tragically, all too often it is not just the speeder who pays the price but innocent parties as well. For habitual speeders it is full speed ahead regardless of the consequences. In other word they just don’t care.

This cavalier attitude toward speed limits is not unique to highway and freeway driving. It’s an even greater problem in towns and cities where the number and frequency of conflicts are manifold and the driving task more complex. What is more we are coming to accept this kind of driving as normal. Some even laugh it off in cliché “boys will be boys” fashion. There is nothing normal about endangering lives and reckless driving is about as funny as Russian roulette!

When you tailgate another driver who is obeying the speed limit, you are the problem, not the other driver. When you get impatient and pass another driver at an unlawful speed, you are the problem, not the other driver. And when you get angry at another driver who is obeying traffic laws, you are not only a problem driver but it’s time to turn in your license, please! Stop kidding yourself. You are not a good driver by any rational definition.

So what is a good driver? A good driver is a driver who knows, understands and obeys traffic laws and rules of the road. A good driver understands why we have traffic laws and rules. The good driver understands the rules are there for our protection, and not part of some conspiracy to take away our personal freedoms. If you have an impatient or hostile attitude toward others who are playing by the rules – change it! Don’t let these dangerous emotions make your driving decisions for you.

The hostile driving environment will not go away until each of us is willing to examine our individual attitude toward driving and, if we drive this way, admit it and make a sincere effort to change. Only then will sanity and therefore safety kick in. As I said before, don’t hold your breath.

I said that two dramatic changes must take place. The second change is up to those we rely upon to enforce our traffic laws. Habitual speeders just don’t get it – never will. They are convinced that if they can get away with it, it’s okay. Unfortunately the only way some speeders will get the message is the hard way with tough and consistent enforcement of traffic laws.

Get rid of the stupid idea that a wreck will never happen to you. If you continue to drive this way the odds are that it will happen not once but three times in your driving career and when it does happen, you’re stuck with the consequences. There are no instant replays in this dangerous game. Your first wreck may be your last!

By the way: The state patrol in our state recently announced that their average traffic stop for speeders on the interstate is people driving at from 95 to 105 miles per hour. Any idea what you look like after you leave the road and roll or collide with another object at those speeds? You don’t want to know! Slow down.

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