Rush Hour is Risky Business

Maybe it’s just me, but I have observed that rush hour traffic in the outerbelt freeways of Cleveland is much more difficult to navigate today than in previous years.  I have observed more instances of aggressive, if not careless driving, and the number of courteous drivers on the road have dwindled greatly.  This combination seems to have also led to a greater frequency of fender benders, as well, although a major contributor to these types of accidents almost certainly is distracted driving.  I also don’t care much for drivers that move too slowly within the flow of traffic.  No one should have to jam on their brakes on a freeway because a driver in front is moving along at a pace that requires a sundial instead of a stopwatch.

For a little while, as a game, I would observe and count the number of drivers in passing vehicles (or cars that I would pass because they were driving so slowly) who were on their cell phones.  On some occasions, it was one out of every three drivers that was on the phone.  One day, it was actually an average of one out of every two drivers.  Now, I am not in favor of banning cell phones while driving–I have concerns with the constitutional ramifications of intrusion upon our personal liberties.  I believe that common sense in the proper use of cell phones is about personal responsibility.  At least the cell phone drivers are most often looking at the road when they are driving.  The really dangerous drivers are the ones who decide to look down at their phones while hurtling down the road at 60 plus miles per hour.  Seeing a texter at work in a fast-moving vehicle will quicken your heartbeat, for sure.  Couple this behavior with the self-centered, aggressive drivers who insist on driving on the bumper of the vehicle in front of them, or those who don’t merge into lanes…they change lanes in an attack mode…and you have all of the makings of a potential nightmare.  It is definitely through God’s grace that there is not more carnage on the freeways at any given time of the day–let alone rush hour.  None of this missive includes people who still insist on disdaining the use of a designated driver and getting behind the wheel while impaired.

About two and a half years ago, I was in a serious automobile accident on I-480 that I was able to miraculously walk away from without any injuries.  It was, unquestionably, God’s protection that kept me safe.  My car was rear-ended on I-480 by an 18-wheeler carrying a load of steel that collided into at least one other truck behind me.  It pushed both of us at least a couple hundred feet along the expressway, and my car into a van in front of me that was sent careening off the highway.  As a result of this accident, I am extremely aware of my surroundings when I am on the road.  I don’t care much for the large truck sightings in the rear view mirror, but God has been gracious to keep me from experiencing a lot of discomfort while driving.  I have to drive to work like most people, and I cover several miles of highway daily; therefore, it’s good to be able to handle the task.  I sometimes, however, have to catch myself to avoid getting very angry at those drivers who are not focused on the road or who are overly aggressive.  My temper is definitely shorter than it used to be–most likely because I am a little nervous about getting into another accident and witnessing too much stupidity to bear at that given moment.  I also seem to witness at least one damage accident on the road each day.  To see a crash at least once a day doesn’t make me feel any better, but it does help me to appreciate that I could have been in that same accident if I had not been delayed before getting on the road or if I had not left home or work earlier than my normal departure time.  I will never discount God’s presence, even in protection.

I don’t expect that driving rush hour will be anything enjoyable in the future–it will be much like a chore, for sure.  It doesn’t have to be a dreadful experience, either.  I wish people would be more considerate of others by just paying attention to the road and less attention to their electronics.  Driving used to be enjoyable, but it has become less about transportation and more about self-preservation.

Thanks for slowing down a little.

Copyright © Melvin Gaines. For more content, please see melvingaines.com and melvingaines.blogspot.com.

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