“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Did you know that a meaningful moment can happen behind the wheel of a car (or any vehicle for that matter)? One moment can impact you and the drivers around you.
I confess—I’m known for driving in the fast lane. And by that I mean driving fast in the fast lane! But the Lord has been challenging me lately to not only slow down, but to be extra considerate of other drivers. I don’t deem myself an aggressive driver, (more confessions ahead) but I will say things under my breath—and occasionally out loud. And, yes, it pains me to say this, but I have glared at the driver in the other car as I’ve sped by (ouch, that hurt!). With that said, I don’t tailgate, flash my lights, speed in and out of traffic or use any of my fingers to shame other drivers.
Unfortunately, I have experienced some NOT so meaningful moments from others—moments that leave be feeling hurt and offended. So with nudging from the Lord, I’ve decided to take the high road and truly begin to show regard and respect to others on the road through a few simple actions—all of which begin with civility.
Civility comes from the Latin word civilis, “relating to public life.” And civility means politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech. So being civil on the road only takes a few small actions or changes in behavior, and can make your ride and mine much more meaningful. Here are a few that I’ve come to “drive” by:
Give other drivers a brake (or break). Sometimes we all do something unintentional (for example, have you ever started to change lanes, only to realize at the last second that there’s a car in the next lane you just barely missed because of your blind spot?). If you are the driver in the car that was almost hit, you can choose to blow your horn all the way down the road and, for extra measure, give a nasty stare OR you can choose civility by warning the other driver with a honk of the horn, and then go on your way.
Yield to others. I know, I know . . . it’s frustrating with someone pulls out in front of you and/or merges over at the last minute, but “do not repay evil for evil.” If someone cuts you off (sure you can blow the horn), but don’t speed up and try to cut them off or tailgate. You do have a choice. Choose civility!
Move over. And, continuing with the yield to others theme, just move over. I again know how annoying it can be when you are doing the speed limit (or above), and someone runs up behind you and begins to tailgate your car. And worse, starts blinking their lights. You have a choice: you can step on your brake, then let them pass, and tailgate them OR you can choose civility and get over when you can, letting them speed by. You’ll see them at the next light anyway (ok, some sarcasm here. Forgive me.).
Keep your distance. Every time I get behind a slow driver, I think of my teenager when she was a new driver. There may be valid reasons why people are driving a bit slower, rather than just to annoy you. Could they be new drivers? Is there a problem with the car? Is the weather reducing visibility? Are they lost? When you experience a driver going under the speed limit, just get around them when you are able. Civility says, there’s no call for an unkind gesture. Pass gently.
Slow down. As I mentioned earlier, I had two speeds when driving—fast and faster. I’ve learned to slow down. Life in the fast lane isn’t the safest, and to be honest, it sets the pace for my entire day. All this racing and running isn’t good for anyone. As the Eagles’ lyrics say, “Life in the fast lane. Surely make you lose your mind.”
Follow the signs. There are dozens of road signs to help keep us safe on the roads, but I’d like to propose a new one to help us be happy and civil drivers: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It’s up to you: you have choices behind the wheel. Steer, turn or drive toward civility—and remember, we’re all on this road of life together!