Remembering kinder, gentler driving

Driving has changed dramatically since the 1930s and 1940s, and not for the better.


ST. LOUIS, August 24, 2016 – The attitude toward driving has changed dramatically over the years.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s, we took driving seriously. Drivers obeyed traffic laws and were conscious of the responsibility of getting behind the wheel. “Stop” meant “stop” and no running stops allowed. Drivers took their turns at an intersection, and often waved other drivers through before taking their turn.

Drivers respected rules not only because they were law, but also as generally accepted as the courtesy of the road. We also respected life and feared causing bodily injury to ourselves and others.

We feared the consequences of breaking the law. To get a traffic ticket was an embarrassment and meant a driver was irresponsible.

Drivers used to focus on driving the car. If you were behind the wheel, that was your sole focus of the moment.

Young drivers rarely had their own car, and getting access to the family car only came after earning that right. To drive, a young person had to demonstrate maturity, accept responsibility, have good grades, and show accountability.

Compare those very basic situations to today.

Drivers now constantly push the limits. They speed, they run stop signs, and never think twice about it. If they get pulled over, they are angry at the police officer, not chastened by their own wrongdoing. Drivers are constantly in a hurry to get somewhere, resulting in a driving pattern that is hazardous. When you stop to think about it, how much time are you actually saving if you speed through a red light or do not come to a full stop at the stop sign? Hours? Minutes? How about seconds? Do those few seconds justify our reckless driving habits?

Today, at traffic lights, “red” for a lot of drivers does not mean stop but rather a signal to put your foot on the gas.

Getting traffic violation tickets is a way of life. There doesn’t seem to be any embarrassment or worry about the problems a driver could have caused by being reckless. In addition, it becomes a challenge to get a person to accept responsibility for his errors in driving. Try driving the speed limit and see how many drivers speed around you, at times endangering other motorists.

Today, drivers “multitask.” While driving, have you ever been guilty of:

Talking on the phone, drinking a beverage, shaving, putting on make-up, doing eye brows, combing your hair, reading something, reading your palm computer, changing clothes (yes, I said changing clothes), and finally, in some cases, having a “smoke”?

It’s amazing what is acceptable practice now while driving. No wonder there are so many accidents and traffic violations!

Today, young people automatically get a car when they reach driving age. They expect those car keys when they turn 16, and never think twice about the responsibility – and privilege – they are getting.

Drivers seem to have forgotten the true power of an automobile. A vehicle is a necessity in today’s society, but it can also kill or disable a person and impact the lives of their loved ones. Maybe we need to go back to some of the old advice, like “Keep your eye on the road and yours hands on the wheel.”

And maybe we need to all exercise more care and courtesy when we drive. Wouldn’t the world be a better place?

However, that’s from a time and place I am from-

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