Sunday, July 28, 2013

Editorial: The death of common sense behind the wheel

Image courtesy of motoringtv.com
I have often written about some of my on-road experiences on this blog, detailing the foolish things I have seen from the driver's seat. Over the course of the last few months, the feeling that things are getting progressively worse has been hard to shake. The number of miles I drive each year continues to drop as my personal commuting needs are increasingly met by two-wheeled and public transportation options, but the number of incidents of, what I can only classify as, pure stupidity I observe when I am behind the wheel continue to increase in frequency.

Take the incident I observed earlier this week while I was out to get groceries. The road that I was traveling on was two lanes in each direction with nothing separating opposing traffic aside from a set of double-yellow lines. This road, especially during rush hours, is exceedingly busy in both directions and, given the rather narrow lanes, is a bit crowded to say the least. Approaching an intersection, it widens ever so slightly to include a left-turn only lane in each direction that can accommodate about 5 to 6 cars before it meets back up with the travel lanes. On this day, I came up to the intersection in the left travel lane and am about 8 cars back from the light. I can see that there are 2 cars in the left-turn lane as the light turned green to allow cars proceeding straight to go, but the left turn signal remained red.

All of a sudden, a flash of light in my driver's side rear-view door mirror caught my attention. A beige Toyota Camry about another 8 cars back behind me had pulled into the opposing traffic lane and was trying to rush up to the left-turn lane. Opposing traffic was already beginning to cross the intersection as the Camry whizzes by my car, all the windows down, allowing me to see a father driving with a small child in the rear seat, gazing out the side window. Horns blared, lights flashed, and tires screeched as the Man in the Camry just barely avoided a head-on collision in what, I am almost certain, was a sphincter-clenching moment of utter imbecility.

Sadly, this kind of idiocy is now all too common. Keep in mind that this driver made such a foolish decision that endangered his life and the life of his child to race up and catch a red light (not that catching a green light would have been any more forgivable given the circumstances). Endangering the life of a child so unnecessarily brings, rather poignantly, the driver's failure to exercise common sense into focus. Any driver who would make such a rash and dangerous decision without proper consideration of the potential consequences should not be allowed the privilege of sharing our roads because it endangers all of us.

As road users, whether we are in a car, on a motorcycle, riding a bicycle, or walking, we should always be considering the consequences of the choices that we are making. Failing to think critically about our actions, especially before we take them, carries the potential to lead to such nearly catastrophic moments as the one I just described. While the Man in the Camry was fortunate to get away this time without a scratch, he may not be so lucky next time. Had he used even a modicum of common sense to assess the situation before acting, he would have realized that had he just waited, he would have safely ended up in precisely the exact same spot and waiting on the exact same red light; and in doing so, he would not have risked the life of his young child. I sincerely hope that the Man in the Camry took those few extra moments he gained at the red light to seriously consider the foolishness of his actions and will not repeat such a mistake.

Here at East-West Brothers Garage, as much as we have a penchant for having fun behind the wheel, we also believe strongly in being safe and taking into consideration the lives of those who share the roads with us. We genuinely hope that we can do our part to turn the tide against the spreading lack of common sense that endangers all of us by imploring you, our dear readers, to do your part to exercise better judgment whenever you are out enjoying the roads.

Drive safe, everyone!