There is one thing that sets us apart from animals. No, it’s not our ability to reason, or laugh, or use tools.
It’s our ability to make and obey traffic laws.
Most people fail at obeying traffic laws. In every city I’ve ever driven, I have heard someone say that this particular city has the worst drivers. And the funny thing is, they’re probably all correct.
I was on foot attempting to cross a street with no crosswalk yesterday, and there was a car approaching from my left who slowed and waved for me to go ahead. They thought they were being courteous to me, and grew annoyed when I waved them on and refused to cross the street. You see, there was a car coming from the opposite direction. So waving me across would have meant that I would have had to stop in the middle of the road and wait for the second car to pass.
This demonstrates the problem quite nicely.
The car that was trying to let me cross the road was aware of me, which is a sign that they were partially paying attention to their surroundings. Yet, that attention was selective, because they failed to consider what their action would mean for the car coming from the opposite direction.
Most drivers seem to think that they are the only car on the road.
This solipsistic approach to driving is killing my faith in the human race.
Sometimes I wonder what is covered in driving tests, because so many drivers seem to not be aware of the following:
1) Turn signals aren’t meant for you, they are meant for the other drivers on the road.
2) Speed limits aren’t meant to annoy you, they, particularly those set in populated areas, are determined for safety reasons, and not just your safety.
3) Lane markers aren’t a suggestion, they tell you where your car should be so you don’t collide with another car that may be on the road at the same time as you.
That fact that people use cell phones, send text messages, read the newspaper, watch movies, do their makeup, and any other activity that generally requires two hands just adds fuel to the fire.
Driving a car is not a particularly difficult task, yet we seem to take it for granted and don’t give it the proper respect it deserves. A car is a weapon, a potentially deadly weapon, and driving should not just be considered a right or something we are entitled to. It should be considered a privilege and one that we handle responsibly.
Otherwise nothing sets us apart from other animals.
Because we sure as hell aren’t rational.