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Mistakes, Distractions, What Drives Your Reaction

A happy fall to everyone. There is so much good going on in the world; we all need to find positivity and pass it on with a side of kindness. This especially holds true on the highways. I’m just putting this out there in the most straightforward way possible; everybody makes mistakes while driving. And yes, I know cell phones are the leading distraction. However, what’s most alarming to me is when I witness these mistakes and the reactions by some of the drivers who make them.

Think about the most dangerous encounters we all have while driving. It is when somebody cuts you off, runs through a yield or stop sign, turns left and cuts across traffic in front of you, turns the opposite way of what their turn signal is telling you, and crosses into your lane head-on. Or one I’ve seen way too much of this past summer, for whatever reason, is going the wrong way. These obviously are some of the most serious infractions, and I’m going to give the driver the benefit of the doubt — they happened accidentally.

We all can also make a list of everyday occurrences that are annoying. These are usually the result of someone being distracted while behind the wheel. I witnessed a lady on the Market Street Bridge that covers many of these. The light had turned green, yet the car just sat not moving; fortunately, there was no traffic, so I simply went around her. The driver had a cigarette in their left hand out the window, knees holding the steering wheel, cell phone in their right hand and a breakfast sandwich balanced on the dashboard. Now that is multitasking.

I must mention a frustration heading down the same track but in the opposite lane. When the light just turns green, and the person behind you lays on the horn like you’re in a drag race and should have been off like a shot.

Now back to what’s most alarming regarding the driver who makes a mistake or is distracted. They scream at the other driver, who has done nothing and possibly avoided a crash by the quick reaction. They give the death stare as if to say, that was your fault, *expletive*. They give the one-finger salute, shake their fist, and by reading, lips say words that I don’t even know. Often, it’s a combination of all the above; remember, this is by the person that has made a mistake or is distracted.

The much more worrisome actions are when somebody gets on your rear bumper like they’re drafting you in a NASCAR race, rides directly next to you and will not allow you to pass, or, after pulling in front of your vehicle, slows down to 20 miles below the speed limit.

In today’s world gone mad, we never know what a person is thinking, and we have all heard of incidents of road rage that end in violence. When I have read through reports of these incidents that have turned tragic, often the situation has been escalated by the reaction of a driver that was just minding their own business that day. The person who was first at fault then takes the situation to a whole different level.

I log a lot of miles every year, and I make mistakes, and yes, sometimes I get distracted. I think if most drivers are honest, this just happens. The key and responsibility we all have are to limit the number of times it happens, thus reducing the opportunity for bad things to happen.

So, circling back around to applying kindness and positivity while driving. If I make a mistake or am distracted, I wave and mouth ‘I’m sorry’ to the other driver. It was my fault; I wear it. If the other driver responds to me angrily, I wear it; I deserve it. I consider myself fortunate that I wasn’t the cause of an accident and drive away.

Now to the more difficult part, action. When somebody else crosses my driving path, and clearly, it was their mistake. Yes, I usually cuss to myself, but then wave that left hand, smile, and mouth; ‘it’s OK.’ If they ignore me or behave like I mentioned earlier, I just continue on my way. Again, thanking God that I can just continue on my way.

My closing thought on this topic is about drivers who are under the influence, which can cover a wide variety of things compared to the days when it was mostly alcohol. I think we all have a responsibility to call 911 if we see anyone operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner. And I’m talking about when they are clearly driving erratically. For those of you that may feel uncomfortable about this, just think about what could occur if you do not. There is also the possibility the person operating that vehicle may be having a medical emergency. It could be something as simple as a reaction to prescribed medication, a diabetic issue, or an allergic response. Again, I’m not talking about when someone crosses the dotted center line on I-180 a couple of times; this is when there is obviously a problem.

I hope I’ve provided something for you to think about as you’re driving, but please don’t let it be a distraction. As I often end my articles, let’s all be safe out there.

God Bess America.

Jim Webb