As I was engaged in my usual attempt at traffic conquest the other day (it’s sad, but I like to think I am to traffic as a knife is to butter), a thought came to me: What if I drove as though the cars around carried my most dear family members?
Would I drive differently if I knew my wife and kids were in the car ahead, beside, or behind me? Would I be a little more careful if I believed my parents were in the next car? Would I make sure to leave them plenty of room to react to emergencies? Would I decide passing wasn’t necessary?
I like to think I am a safe driver. I scan ahead and behind frequently. I look for gaps in the traffic so I can have a buffer around me. But there are those times when I lose myself in the game of traffic, of trying to work my through the maze of moving vehicles around me, of “winning” some undeclared race. Am I as safe then? Probably not.
Actually, surely not! How can it be as safe to work your way through traffic?
Yet, this is an example of the lies we tell ourselves. I help people every day who were hurt because someone else told themselves that same lie. They had enough time. The hole was big enough. They were being careful. But accidents still happen.
The simple truth is that when you trim the margins, you increase the likelihood of a wreck. And the consequences are shared by those around us. Just this evening on the way home, I saw a terrible crash scene on the Durham Freeway. Four cars were involved. At least two were in very bad shape, and I’m not sure everyone survived. Would that have happened if they all drove like their families were in the car ahead?
I deal with accident cases all the time. It’s what I do for a living. People get hurt, and their lives can be devastated. All because someone wasn’t as careful as they could be. It is an unnecessarily fertile mission field.
I’ll stop for a moment here to put in a plug for a friend of mine. This past Summer, Jim told me he was thinking of a ministry focused on how we drive. When he puts something up about it, I’ll post a link here. His point was to show others the love of Christ while you drive. I think the two objectives (showing God’s love while also being more careful by imagining your family is in the other vehicles) can go hand-in-hand.
So, back off a little. Drive a little more slowly. Be more careful. The cars around you are full of other people who are loved by someone. Try to drive like that someone is you. I promise you it’ll make a difference. And even better if they can somehow see Christ in you for it.