Can we all just a take a moment to appreciate the pure magic that are automobiles?
Look, I know that it isn’t magic, but science, specifically the field of engineering, that has gifted us the ability to cross vast distances with ease and efficiency; still, it’s incredible that this advantage is available to the masses.
And yes, I’m aware that not every individual is privileged enough to afford a car and all the financial responsibilities that come with its ownership, but that’s a topic for another day. So too is the subject of how horrible cars, and the fossil fuel industry they contribute to, are for our environment.
The fact of the matter is that the technology exists and if you are fortunate enough be able to afford a car, a truck, or another automatic driving mechanism you should stop and take the time to appreciate it.
Seriously, like right now; stop and think.
Think about how wonderful it is to have a tool in your life that can get you from Point A to Point B relatively quickly when compared to walking, running, or even bicycling, and that also protects you from the elements of the environment while getting you there. Consider the independence, freedom, and opportunities cars provide and the memories you’ve created with friends and loved ones both while driving and because of the convenience of driving.
Okay, so I bet you’re wondering:
Why the sudden plea for a moment of respect for cars and the impact to efficiency and convenience that they contribute to our lives?
Because I am fucking over the constant road rage that floods my roads every year from December through April. The impatience and viciousness of other drivers, both local and visiting, is not only frustrating but life-altering.
In January of this year alone, car-related fatalities in my county claimed the lives of ten individuals, including a nine-month-old infant and a twelve-year-old walking home from a bus stop.
And yes, not to minimize the deaths of all ten people, I do understand that in the grand scheme of things, ten is not a significant number. However, it’s a number that represents life, and it is also a number that has doubled compared to the amount of car related deaths for the same month in the previous year¹.
Furthermore, I think it’s important to note that by mid-March of this year, my county had lost twenty-eight individuals to traffic fatalities which is almost a third of the total number of traffic-related deaths reported for the whole of 2018².
Now, it is essential to understand that higher rates of car crashes happen in my county during what locals here call “season.” Our season kicks off in December and begins dwindling after the Easter Holidays. The height of our season runs from January through March during which time our county receives an influx of over 1.3 million visitors from all over the globe causing great road congestion and a melting pot of driving styles³.
So naturally one could expect with more drivers comes more opportunity for car crashes. And that’s okay; car accidents happen all the time because people make bad judgment calls, machines breakdown unexpectedly, and weather creates hazardous driving conditions.
What I am not okay with is having to call the police while I sit with a woman who is gushing blood from her leg because the driver behind her did not agree with how slow she was going on her Moped and clipped her as he revved up his engine and passed her on the road.
I am not okay with people leaning out of their window to violently curse me out while honking their horn because I won’t turn right on red as traffic is hurdling my way and when the traffic sign ahead clearly states “NO RIGHT ON RED.”
So how does taking a moment to think about the gifts that cars bring to our everyday lives help with what I perceive to be dangerous road rage?
Maybe this is naive of me, but I feel that if we all took a moment to appreciate the value that cars bring to our lives, then perhaps we would be more apt to accept that part of the payment we make to receive the benefits of automobiles is road traffic.
It sucks, but that’s the way it is, and maybe if we all just accept that traffic happens we’ll be less likely to try and rush and rage through it without thought to the consequences our raging, reckless, and impatient driving has on the road.
So I guess I’m just asking that the next time you get behind a car that is going the actual speed limit instead of speeding like the rest of the vehicles, you don’t lay on your horn before racing around them without signaling so you can flip them off as you pass them.
Maybe instead you recall how privileged you are to have a machine that can get you from your Point A to Point B relatively quickly and conveniently. Perhaps you don’t rage and race around the car ahead of you but take a deep breath and remember that traffic is the price you pay for your privilege.
And maybe, just maybe, you pass the car in front of you less aggressively helping to contribute to making our roads a more pleasant and safe place to drive.
Until next time,
¹ Braun, Michael. Feb. 01, 2019. “2019 Off to a Deadly Start…” News-Press.com
² Braun, Michael. Mar. 14, 2019. “Fatal Crashes in Lee County…” News-Press.com
³ Davidson-Peterson Associates. Feb. 28, 2018. “2017 Annual Visitor Profile…” Lee County.