Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dealing with Reckless and Rude Drivers

Bad driving seems to be an epidemic in America. All too frequently I encounter a driver who runs a red light or stop sign, violates my right of way, or cuts me off. Nearly every time I go on a road trip, I have at least one scary experience in which another driver's bad choice could have resulted in big trouble for me if it weren't for my own fast reflexes. Whenever something like that happens, I have to decide how to respond. I could choose to retaliate in some way—blare my horn, make obscene hand gestures, or use my vehicle to get the offender's attention by tailgating, passing, or driving aggressively. In complete honesty, I've done all of these things before. I've also had other drivers do them to me, sometimes when I had made a driving mistake and sometimes when I had done nothing wrong. After all of these experiences, I have come to realize that angry or aggressive responses to bad driving are not very helpful or Christian.

When I am behind the wheel of a car, I have a responsibility to both myself and others to remain focused on my driving. It's bad enough when someone endangers me by driving recklessly, but if I respond in kind with aggressive behavior, I am also endangering others on the road, and that is not responsible behavior. Even if I limit myself to fuming in the privacy of my own vehicle, my anger can distract me from my driving. Beyond my responsibility to other drivers, I've realized that I simply shouldn't give bad drivers any more power to disrupt my life. Bad choices made by other drivers could endanger my life, but if I allow them to provoke an angry response, then I also allow them to manipulate me into becoming a worse version of myself. Even if no one is there to hear the angry things I say or think, why should I allow someone else's rude behavior to make me become crass as well? My anger not only makes me less able to focus on my driving, but it also separates me from God and from my own grounding in love.

It's hard not to get angry when someone shows such little concern for my rights and my safety, but I've realized that it's in my own best interest to remain calm in these situations. If I keep my cool, then the incident can be over and will have no more power to negatively impact my life. Bad driving is just one of many irritations and dangers that invade my life, and I don't want any of them to distract me from my Christian life.

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