While growing up, this was drilled into us each day in school (and often at home, too): “STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.” Although this used to be on signs by railroad crossings, it holds up for just about everything.
Considering how dangerous driving has become, it would serve us well to remember old “STOP. LOOK. LISTEN.” It used to be that, if you were making a turn into a driveway or parking lot or a friend’s house, the person behind you slowed down to let you make that turn safely. These days you risk your life when you do the same thing; the person behind does not slow down, nor does he/she give you much room to turn.
When approaching a stop sign, I’ve seen countless people drive right on through. Just because you don’t see anyone coming, does not mean that you don’t have to stop. “Stop” means STOP. What people do not realize is that things like this become a dangerous habit. The day will come when they sail right through a stop into someone’s car or child.
Driving these days is more dangerous than ever. There appears to be no courtesy, no kindness, no manners, no patience. And don’t even get me started about texting and driving. It has become an exercise in survival, and that’s not good. Whether it’s ego or impatience or whatever, we see too many people driving too fast and too carelessly.
I now drive defensively because I have to. If I have the chance to get out of the way of the speeder, the impatient driver, the speed demon, I do. These days when I’m driving and there is someone behind me obviously ticked off at me because I’m not driving 100 MPH in a 50 MPH zone, I just pull over and let them pass. I would a whole lot rather be behind someone like that than in front of them.
Sometimes there is a reason for speeding. If you have a pregnant woman in active labor in your car, or you are experiencing an incipient bowel event (it happens), then ok—by all means speed. Just be careful and pay attention.
Then there are the dear souls who love to walk and run with headphones or earbuds, listening to their music, etc. That’s perfectly fine if you are in a safe place, say, running track at a school. However, a lot of people “tune out” while running or walking and do not seem to be aware of anything or anyone around them.
I used to teach self-defense, and even back then I was telling people to be careful and to be aware of their surroundings. It is incredibly easy for someone in a van to come up on a runner who is not paying attention and pull them into the van. It happens all the time, and often the person grabbed is never seen again.
Look, I’m not trying to be a harbinger of doom. I still think that the old “STOP. LOOK. LISTEN” is as true today as it was decades ago. It is ALWAYS a good idea to know where you are and who is around you. Trust me, the world will not watch out for you, so you had better watch out for yourself.