This I Believe

Jennifer - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on February 21, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in driving friendly. We should be good to our fellow drivers – the people with whom we share our cities, roadways, and parking lots. I believe friendly driving is one of the best ways to be a good citizen and neighbor, because our driving behavior (good or bad) has such great potential to impact the safety, livelihood, and lives of others. What better way to show decency, politeness, and even kindness to strangers around us than carefully maneuvering our multi-ton vehicles while driving at high speeds?

If character is revealed by what we do when no one is looking, then it follows that how we behave when cloaked in painted steel and tinted windows is a reflection of the type of persons we are. So much seems to be exposed by one’s driving style: courteousness, carelessness, aggressiveness. And I admit, there are days when it seems like there are a lot of jerks out there.

But I know how I feel whenever a kind soul stops to let me merge into a sea of fellow drivers – grateful. And I’ve even been saved by an attentive driver who braked when I inadvertently crossed lanes while adjusting my radio. She saved me from an accident. I was embarrassed but grateful, and we both went on your way – unscathed. Whew! Thank you, whoever you are.

Obeying traffic laws is the first step of friendly driving. The driving decisions we make every day rely on the assumption that others will abide by the laws – approaching us at safe speeds, indicating turns and lane changes, and stopping appropriately. When those assumptions fail us, we risk injury, death, and inconvenient, time-wasting collisions.

Driving friendly goes beyond the minimum requirements.

Friendly driving means driving carefully. That is, driving with care.

Friendly driving means honoring blinkers. When a fellow driver uses his signal hoping to leave the exit-only lane before it carries him off to the access road, let him in! We’re not required to do it, but we should do it anyway. That driver won’t have to resort to forceful measures. There’s one less angry driver on the highway.

Friendly driving requires some patience. Most kind deeds add only seconds to our commute. Let fellow drivers merge in front of us. Wait while they back out of parking spaces. Always give pedestrians the right-of-way. It’s 20 seconds well-invested.

Sometimes we must excuse others. The driver who took an early turn at a four-way stop may be driving his pregnant wife to the hospital. Maybe the driver who didn’t go when the light turned green just found out that her husband has cancer. Watch out for these folks – they’re out there. React gently, just in case.

Finally, acknowledge friendly driving. Wave appreciatively or offer a peace sign, whatever suits you. Let that driver know that his courteousness is appreciated. Maybe he’s more likely to do it again, and maybe we’re more likely to follow suit.