THE NASCAR WANNABE
You’re driving along on the freeway, thinking about where you’ll stop for lunch and all is well. You carefully check your mirrors, then signal and move out to pass an eighteen-wheeler which has slowed down to pull a grade. Suddenly out of nowhere a NASCAR wannabe, who was three miles back when you just checked your mirrors, has his nose up your tailpipe. Even your doctor never got this intimate! He’s giving you the lights and acting like a jerk. You move over as quickly as you can but in the meantime this guy is creating real danger for you, himself, the trucker and whoever else is nearby. Of course he has no clue about any of that so he glares and flips you the single-digit salute on the way by as if all this was your fault! Now you’re mad, he’s mad and you’re day is not as nice as it was a couple of minutes ago. But you’re grateful the incident did not end a whole lot worse, which it could have.
Now you’re headed up Main Street looking for that really nice restaurant you’ve heard so much about. GPS just told you a left turn is coming up so you check your mirrors and signal to move into the left turn lane. The lane is clear but just as you start to make your move a wild-eyed female comes charging up from behind, dives over into your turn lane way too early and cuts you off. As she races past and hangs a left without looking or signaling you spot the cell phone stuck to her ear and the little guy in the car seat. She’s doing all this with one hand and, I might add, half a brain! She decided that there was some kind of advantage to getting to the signal ahead of you and made a decision to go for it, which put you, her and everyone else at the intersection at risk, including her little boy. She also made you miss your turn, dammit! Now you have to go around the block. As she goes out of sight you let your breath out, thank the Lord nothing worse happened and wonder why any sane person would do such an idiotic thing.
It’s aggressive driving and it is epidemic. It’s also juvenile, suicidal and just plain stupid. Speeding, tailgating, running red lights and other risky driving behavior are all around us every day. The vital social skills such as courtesy, and the common sense which once defined the good driver, have gone away and in their place is a scary “get out of my way or I’ll kill you” mentality. Our home town is a good example. There is no place in our town more than ten minutes from any other place in our town, yet everyone drives here as if their tails are on fire! Reckless driving is a way of life. Presumably these are ordinarily rational folks who know better. So, what in the world makes them act this way?
A number of reasons come to mind but in my opinion this phenomenon is largely an outgrowth of our social condition in general. It began with the “me” generation in the sixties and grew out of control until now we live in a world dominated by instant gratification. We are compelled to do it now, have it now and get there now with little or no thought for the consequences and this leads to disregard for traffic laws. Let’s be honest with one another. How many people do you know who pay any attention to speed limits, for example, or actually stop at stop signs? Aggressive drivers just don’t get what traffic laws are all about. Traffic laws are there to save our butts!
And then there are the mass communicators who love to massage us with those messages that clearly encourage risk-taking. Ever take a close look at those car commercials? Mr. Smooth or Ms. Beautiful is shown careening down a wet (wet looks cool on TV) and winding road. Or better yet, it’s a shadowy figure we can’t quite make out through those over-tinted windows, racing down a city street at night and at blinding speed, and there’s never a speed limit sign or a traffic cop in sight. And, there’s that NASCAR dude again! This time he’s doing insane wheelies, layin’ down the rubber and makin’ massive smoke, or racing across a dusty desert just missing collisions with those other dudes who are also traveling at warp speed. Somewhere in impossibly small type it says “do not attempt this”.
Showing us stop signs, warning signs and crash statistics doesn’t sell cars so the advertisers like to excite us with the wild and reckless side of driving. What’s that you say? Drivers won’t imitate this? You better believe they will! Driving and riding with other young people is the leading killer of our young people already. Keep showing them images like this and it’s certainly not going to get any better!
There is an obvious price to be paid for this by all of us in dollars, lives and injuries. The average speed of drivers being cited by the state patrol on the interstate highways in our state is between 95 and 110 miles per hour. This is an incredible statistic! Do you have any idea the consequences if you leave the road at those speeds? You don’t even want to think about it! I’d like to say that I don’t give a damn but, I can’t say that because I do care about any life, even that of the aggressive driver. What I don’t like is the price that others have to pay. The sad truth is that aggressive drivers, like drunk drivers, often take others with them. This is not about how to drive, It’s about staying alive!
See you next time . . . I hope!