Hey, Drivers!

As a driver myself (60 miles a day for my normal commute alone) I get it. You sit high & dry in a 1-2 ton vehicle, designed with your safety in mind. You’ve got kids to pick up (I have one); you’re late to work (I’m in trial service at a new job & can’t be late); you’re mother in law pissed you off (mine’s the sweetest you’ll ever meet!); you’ve been driving for ten, twenty, thirty years without accidents like clockwork.

What I don’t get, either as a driver or as vulnerable pedestrian and bicyclist, on why you value your time more than my life. Why is giving me space and five extra seconds to herd my kid and dog across the street so painful for you? Creeping up on me when I’m trying to keep myself and others safe makes the hair on the back of my neck crawl, and realize how very easy it is for a car to maim a human body, especially a small one.

It’s dark at 4pm these days, dark and dreary and rainy. You worry about money for the holidays, less than loved relatives bitching about politics at the Thanksgiving table, navigating through traffic and just trying to get home. A guy cut you off five blocks back and cost you four seconds; you had to wait five minutes for the freight train to crawl through town; your 3pm shot of coffee wore off too fast. It doesn’t matter what stupid/dumbass/possibly illegal or just ill-advised thing said pedestrian is doing; you are not God or the cops (but if you are the cops, maybe they could use a talking to if they are doing one of those things). It’s your responsibilities as a driver to be hyperaware and in control of your vehicle and reaction times, which means assuming every corner has a person waiting to cross and not creeping up on someone crossing the damn street (ugh god, how dare they use public space in front of YOU.)

In a contest between an impatient driver and my son, my dog, my partner, or myself, we will always come out the losers. There is no scenario in which a car speeds up to turn in front of us as we cross the street, or doesn’t stop and rolls through a right hand turn as we step out that ends well for anybody. We’ll be dead or seriously injured, and you’ll be traumatized and facing criminal charges.

Remember those days when your driver’s license was shiny new, something you showed off in English class and bitched about your DMV photo? You remember checking and rechecking your mirrors before you even backed out of the driveway, mom or dad or crazy Uncle Larry breathing down your neck, just waiting for one slip up to yank your driving privileges away? Drive like that, every day. Shove the worry about your kid’s grades, your last performance evaluation, the leaky roof with a storm on the way in the trunk, and drive like you’re 16 again, convinced every bush holds an unwary deer ready to dash out and scrape up your dad’s precious ’69 convertible and you’ll be in for it if he finds out.

Or, you could, you know, just drive like you want everyone else to get home as safely as you feel entitled to. Don’t be the person a stranger gets home and says to their person, “Let me tell YOU about this ASSHOLE who almost RAN ME OVER in the CROSSWALK today.”

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