My relatives are stretched right across parts of South-East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, so naturally over the Christmas break I did a lot of driving. I spent time on the road from Brisbane to Caloundra then up to Gympie, back again and down to Mount Tamborine then to Kingscliff and back again. I quite enjoy driving but on these trips I realised something that has really got me alarmed. People seem to have forgotten that on the road we aren’t just responsible for ourselves. We aren’t just responsible for our overpriced car. We are responsible for the lives of every single person on the roads around us, but the way people were driving, you sure wouldn’t know it.
I watched a driver in a two-lane construction zone section on the Bruce Highway tailgated a car in front for at least eight kilometres. The person in front was clearly sitting right on, if not a little above, the speed limit but somehow the person behind them thought they needed to be going faster. My partner and I watched this go on about four cars in front of us in the opposite lane and realised that if the person in front has a bird fly low and frighten them, they would slam on the brakes. This would cause an accident with the car behind them, the cars would likely skew and cause several surrounding cars (including ourselves) to also crash. But this person tailgating quite clearly couldn’t care less about his social responsibility.
We know that we’ve become selfish people – we run around doing things for ourselves, not often enough stopping to breathe and say thank you. But at what point does this selfishness actually start to impact the lives of others? Watching this happen made me believe that it has already happened. We are so concerned with our own agenda, with our own needs. So regularly you see someone hop lanes a little too quickly, annoying the person behind them who then goes into a flurry of road rage. Did that person ever stop to think, perhaps they jumped in this lane for a reason? Perhaps there is a family emergency or a health crisis they need to get to?
I’m not saying that people with a personal crisis have a right to be ignorant of other drivers, but I am saying that people need to stop, breathe and think about the other people around them on the road. Stop being angry that they aren’t doing what we want them to and start thinking about our own responsibilities. The odds of dying in a motor vehicle accident are 1 in 100 – this is far too high considering it is something we do almost every day.
Every time we sit in the driver’s seat of a car, we have a responsibility to keep everyone around us alive and I think that it is high time we all started to remember that.
Do you feel drivers have forgotten their social responsibility? Have you had any close calls on the roads lately?