It is Spring, and summer is not far off. The Covid Pandemic is easing, and people are leaving their homes. They are driving again, visiting family and friends, and traveling to a vacation spot. However, it is like a cork popped from a bottle of Champagne. Drivers are tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, passing cars from the right lane, and going at alarmingly high rates of speed and well beyond speed limits. In addition, they are getting into accidents on the highways and local streets.
People might think that state troopers are present to stop, ticket, and inhibit crazy driving. There are examples of the police issuing tickets to these drivers. However, reckless driving would resume once out of sight of the officers.
Of course, during a long trip, drivers pull off the road to refuel, get some lunch and stretch their weary and still limbs. Many of the cars were recognizable as the autos seen on the road. Yet, the people in those autos appeared friendly and respectable. The elderly, middle-aged, fathers, mothers, children, and business people.
Stress plays a significant role in this behavior. Something anonymous about the highway permits people to put aside their excellent judgment and engage in reckless driving, much like the internet. The highway is not the place to express the aggravation that comes from coping with a difficult marriage, problematic children, unemployment, financial issues, and depression and anxiety expressed on the highway. People are releasing pent-up frustrations from their lives.
Not that anyone is doing this deliberately. While a few people know of driving recklessly, most are unaware of what they are doing. There are always excuses and rationalizations for those who are aware, such as another is driving too slowly, or there is an urgency about arriving quickly. I guess that most would not admit that they are expressing helplessness, hopelessness, and rage in the way they are driving.
This essay is not only about traffic and driving but about how we live our lives. People are in a hurry to get to their first and second jobs. They are in a hurry to complete tasks at home, school, and work. People rush from one place to another but rarely take time to think about what they are doing. I have a good friend working endless hours to put his son through a top-notch college to go to medical school. He is living life at a breakneck speed and is not taking time to think about what he is doing to himself. This good friend already suffers from high blood pressure, cholesterol, and several other health problems.
There are healthier ways to cope with life’s difficulties, such as getting plenty of exercises and using yoga and meditation to release tension, and getting in touch with living in the moment rather than hurrying. We need not hurry. We need to be present at the moment.