Be Kind When You Drive

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I witnessed another near miss. Driving to the office, I was eastbound on the two-lane road with a double-yellow line and a 35 MPH speed limit. I was safely behind a car and met another car going west when, suddenly, a driver flew up behind the westbound vehicle and passed, nearly hitting the car in front of me head-on. It barely missed clipping both cars as the driver whipped around and continued his frenzied journey, vastly exceeding the speed limit.

After sitting down on my horn, I prayed, “Lord, please don’t let him kill someone.”

What is it with people when they get behind the wheel? One counselor blames all these road rage incidents that seem to be escalading on our mounting stress, especially since the Pandemic. People are totally stressed out, and it shows up on the roads. And people are in too big a hurry.

Like the truck driver I encountered several years ago. I was on a city street with a speed limit of 45 mph. For whatever reason, I was actually going 45 mph when I looked up and my rearview mirror was filled with the shiny silver chrome of a semi’s front end. I’m thinking, “What is this guy doing?” He stayed right on me.

My left turn is coming up, so I signaled, and moved over to the center lane to enter the business. So did this big blue truck, right on my tail. I waited for on-coming traffic to clear before I turned in, and when I did, he also entered the parking lot, and pulled behind the building, where he parked.

I wasn’t happy with this guy’s manners. I was driving a little Toyota, and I didn’t have room for his semi in my trunk nor backseat. Plus, I didn’t have time to be rear-ended, hospitalized, and in therapy for months. I like pancakes, but I have no desire to become flatter than one.

So, being human, I decided to let this guy know I didn’t appreciate his manners. I found him and our conversation went something like this:

“Sir, were you just driving this truck?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Well, I’m the guy whose tail you were riding and whose backend you were on when I was trying to turn left just then.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have been going so slowly. You need to get out of my way.”

“I was going the speed limit. This is a city street, for Pete’s sake. And you shouldn’t be riding people’s bumpers. What if you ran over me? How would you like to have that on your conscience?”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“Let me tell you something. This may be news to you, but you don’t own the road.” And I turned around and walked off.

His company name was on the side of his door, so I called, and eventually spoke to his boss. I shared about my encounter and subsequent conversation and vented my displeasure with the tailgating episode and the arrogant, unremorseful attitude that followed. The boss apologized, not for his driver’s behavior, but on behalf of the company. He promised to speak to his driver. This guy needed to learn some anger management and how to practice kindness on the road.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another.” That applies to driving, also.

Here are suggestions for kinder driving:

• Always put others before yourself. They don’t own the road, and neither do you. Watch out for each other.

• Put the phone down and pay attention. And the sandwich. And the makeup. Stay alert to avoid situations that could trigger driver anger.

• Always use your blinker to let other drivers know your intentions.

• Yield even if it’s your turn to go. Show patience even when the oncoming driver doesn’t (My primary context is navigating our county’s roundabouts).

• Don’t try to beat the red light. You might regret it. Are you really in that big of a hurry? Leave earlier.

• When lined up at a red light, allow room for waiting drivers to pull into the line in front of you.

• Always be alert for pedestrians and bicyclists.

• Stay calm continually. If the driver behind you shakes his fist at you, don’t let it rattle you.

• As you drive, remember who you are and Whom you represent. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do if He were behind the wheel?”

[David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.mcdonoughroad.org for information and for online viewing options. Visit www.davidchancey.org to see Chancey’s other writings.]