Thursday, October 31, 2013

Avoiding Automobile Accidents

Yesterday, there was some traffic backed up on the corner where I turn to go to work. It turned out that there was an accident, and a small crew was sweeping up the street. A tow truck had the car on its flat bed. The driver-side front part of the car was smashed in. I thought I saw the owner, his phone pressed to his bowed head.

I was in one fender bender back in the 1980s when I was in high school, but since then, I've been accident-free.

I think in those early years, I was mostly lucky avoiding accidents. I remember being an aggressive driver. I grew up in Jersey City, where driving 'close' seemed normal. I spent time in Pasadena, and prowled Southern California highways, and developed a fondness for high speed on-ramp merging. When I moved to Massachusetts, I liked to drive angry. Flooring the gas. Tailgating. Driving over the speed limit. I always felt that I could make up time in my car if I was late.

But over the years, the energy that this kind of driving demanded began to disappear. Over the years, I realized there was no 'winning' in driving. How angry I could become if someone cut me off or didn't let me merge. I questioned why I was so emotionally exhausted after driving.

I began to become generous in my driving. You want to squeeze ahead of me in a long line of traffic? Go right ahead. You want to run your left-turn green? Go on...I'll wait. I stopped using my horn. I gave myself more time to get to events. And if I was late? Well, that's what the cell phone is for.

I started driving slower. For years I did a city commute, and driving fast through the streets was a trademark. Now? I'm the person that people are honking because I'm going at "Sunday drive" speed.

All driving has become leisurely, and I am much more relaxed behind the steering wheel. I still have to deal with aggressive triggers (fast drivers, people 'pushing' me to run that yellow). I do my best to avoid those situations. My streak of accident-free driving continues.