In 2010, a car plowed through my neighbor’s house. In 2012, on Thanksgiving, our car was sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver. July 2016, a car hit our house. It destroyed our hedges and fence, bouncing off the house just above the gas main, and coming to rest only feet from our sleepy heads. (We are still repairing that damage.) Two months later, another vehicle-crushing accident. Four more months go by and yet another life was drastically changed by someone who felt that the Rules Don’t Apply. And all of this happens in front of a park with a daycare center and a 25 mph speed limit.
Several letters and phone calls have been made to city officials with minimal response: newly painted curbs, a sign warning that oncoming traffic won’t stop, a handful of tickets that were mostly warnings without consequence. The only real response received was from one frustrated police official who stated that the police force shares these concerns, but that there are only six traffic enforcement officers in a city of nearly a million people. Six to one million. Huh.
In the Great & Mighty Land of Technology (Silicon Valley), humanity seems to have taken a back seat to high speed everything. In a rush to get nowhere particularly important, thinking that we are All Important, we have forgotten how to be courteous or kind or even civil. We refuse to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Are we so grand that the universal symbol for “stop a moment to make sure it’s really safe” can be ignored? Are we so much better than everyone else on the road that we can fly down a residential street, where children play and our elders take their daily walks, blasting by in our pomposity at 50 mph, when the posted limit is 25?
How rude. Beyond rude. Arrogant to the point of murderous.
But it won’t happen to me, your gleeful demon declares. Maybe. Maybe you will be lucky (and everyone around you will simply think you are a jerk). But what if you’re not? What if you are the World’s Most Talented Driver? What example are you setting for those less fortunate or less skilled (or less obnoxious)? The ripples of stress, fear, and frustration that your thoughtless arrogance causes has no bounds, spreading in all directions and in more ways that you can imagine.
Bottom line: speeders lack self-discipline. Sure, we all want chocolate cake and ice cream for breakfast, but our adult brains know better and choose more wisely. Getting behind the wheel of a car without the self-control (or the mental capacity) to drive safely and courteously is a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t speak very well about your upbringing, either. Seriously, if you can’t take the 5 seconds it takes to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, maintain your inner calm enough to respect posted speed limits, or to stay in your lane without drifting, you have no business getting behind the wheel in the first place.
Next time you get in your car, take just a moment to remind yourself that driving is a privilege and that a single mistake could cost you or someone else dearly. Don’t take it for granted. Have the self-control (and the self respect) that could prevent the nightmare that follows killing a child who was simply crossing the street to go play at a neighborhood park. If you need to drive fast, go to a track, where you belong.