Drive with PACKS: Part I

PACKS = Patience-Awareness-Courtesy-Knowledge-Skill

How would you like to drive a wheelchair for the rest of your life? No fun! I for sure would hate to!

So here I go, late to work and the guy ahead of me is dawdling, driving the speed limit. And the road is crowded here but open up ahead, all bunched up here like a school of fish going the same speed and determined not to let anyone get ahead of them. I’m squirming in my seat and my car is squirming on the road with me. Maybe if I get behind this guy on my left, he’ll move over and let me by. The next thing I know, he slams his foot on the brakes. Dumb and dumber. My tires squeal and I have no where to go but EEK! stop. I take a quick peek in my mirror to see the gal behind me close to my backside.

In the U.S. in 2003, 1,871,000 rear end crashes caused 2,076 deaths and injured 638,000. Many of the deaths were those of the tail-gaters. (You? Me?) That happened because of impatient guys like me trying to make time on the road. (638,000 injured, – some for life! Wow!) These statistics rival what happened in any year of the war in Viet Nam or the war in Iraq. Only the U.S. Civil War had more deaths and casualties in one year. Yuck!

Patience is an absolute necessity for safe driving. Lack of patience forces you and other drivers into dangerous behavior and dangerous situations on the roads. Your speedy reaction-time as a youngster and all your skill don’t help. As an impatient driver, you speed, you weave to get ahead, you tailgate to push the driver ahead of you to get out of the way. You cut off slower drivers, flash your headlights and blow your horn.

You also have a dangerously reduced awareness of what’s going on around you because you’re concentrating on speeding safely. Now that’s an oxymoron. Well, some kind of a moron, anyway.

Going with the flow of traffic is difficult for drivers who lack patience. The always-impatient driver must get ahead of the car in front whether there’s a real or perceived need for speed. When you speed and weave, you invite other drivers to retaliate, to “teach you a lesson,” and those drivers speed up and race you, cut you off, close up lanes you want to enter, react in anger with dangerous maneuvers, and drive in the same impatient manner you do. Do you recognize anybody who drives that way? Hey, many of us have been there and done that.

Sixteen-to-twenty-year old males have the highest vehicle crash rate in the United States. Notice, I didn’t say “accidents.” Accidents happen. Crashes are made! Those are the impatient years. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration facts: 6,002 killed and 53,000 with incapacitating injuries in 2003.) If you are in that age group and you want to drive safely, you must leave your impatience and take your patience with you when you get in your car.

Are you always in a hurry, do you go through Stop-Signs with a “rolling stop” and do you take off like a shot when the light changes from red to green without looking left and right, and do you always curse out other drivers when they don’t drive the way you think they should? Well, you are not Miss Patience.

Do you enable vehicles to merge in front of you from an on-ramp? Do you allow vehicles into your lane of traffic when they signal or do you close up the spot? Do you allow other drivers to pass you easily?
For all drivers, knowing that you are impatient when you get behind the wheel of a car is the first step to a safe trip. Take it one trip at a time and be patient for that one trip. Don’t get suckered in by the time left to get where you’re going or by an impatient driver speeding past you. Fill your attitude with patience the way you fill your tank with gasoline. The roads will be much safer for everybody.

To become a patient driver requires you to learn how patient you are as a person. (If your parents were patient people, that helped you become a patient person.) The second step requires your total agreement that patience is needed for safe driving. The third step requires you to make the decision to be a safe driver by always driving with Patience.

These steps aren’t as easy as learning how to operate a vehicle but learning them can make the difference between driving a car and driving a wheelchair for the rest of your life.

Quick Tip: Always make believe it’s your Mom in the car ahead of you.

About the Author
Nachum has been writing for many years, starting with poetry, cartoons, history, and his own experiences as a craftsman, a Jew, a Zionist, an observer of events and history, a father of six with four sons in the Israeli army/navy, a kibbutznick for 3 years, a large group of friends and relatives in Israel, a PalYamnik carrying aviation gasoline to Israel in 1948, and more.