I've been getting really, really angry at drivers around my daughter's junior high school because people regularly run the four-way stop sign at the entrance to her school. At dismissal time, there are cars, buses, kids on bikes, tweens who are trying to figure out how to walk and chew gum at the same time. It's a location where you need to have your head in the safety game and follow the laws, but many drivers seem oblivious to all those around them.
I tried to figure out what angered me the most, and I came to the conclusion that it was the sense of entitlement behind the unsafe driving, and more so the message that these adults were sending to the children in their car. "You are more important than the law."
No. Wrong. Not even close.
Getting somewhere on time may be "important," but it will never, ever be worth endangering someone's life. Never.
But yet people did that. On the regular.
My fear is that the kids in their car who will be driving in just a few short years have internalized the message that poor driving and disregard of traffic laws to suit your own personal purposes and schedule is completely acceptable.
It makes me truly afraid.
Yesterday, on the way home from lunch, I pulled over for an ambulance driving the other direction. There was another car going the same direction as the ambulance, in the same lane, that never moved. The ambulance had to slow down and go around it. I was incredulous, and thought that it was another case of driving while entitled.
And then today I read Sheryl Sandberg's Facebook post on the 30th day since her husband's untimely death. It is poignant and heartbreaking, but what she said about racing her husband to the hospital really stood out to me.
Sandberg wrote, "I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass. I have noticed this while driving in many countries and cities. Let’s all move out of the way. Someone’s parent or partner or child might depend on it."
This is powerful on so many levels. She is so right. So many cars don't pull over for vehicles with flashing lights. It's unacceptable.
If more people obeyed the laws and got out of the way so emergency vehicles to get to the hospital as soon possible, perhaps more people would get the treatment they needed sooner. Lives could be saved.
Think about that.
Lives. Could. Be. Saved.
That cannot be more important than a dance rehearsal or a soccer practice or anything, really.
There's also the fact that such selfish behavior puts the driver and the emergency workers at risk, too. Those emergency vehicles travel at high rates of speed because they are dealing with life and death. Making them swerve is dangerous, for the drivers of both cars.
When you see or hear an ambulance get out of the way.
If you have kids in the car, verbalize what you're doing. Explain aloud, "I see flashing lights, so I'm pulling over. That's the law, and it's also the decent thing to do."
Your children are watching. As they watch, they learn. They will do as we do more than they will do as we say. So do the right thing.
Heck, as you're waiting for it to pass, even say a prayer or offer up a good thought for the person in that ambulance, for their family, for the people taking care of them.
What a great way to show your kids that there are others who are in need and that it's important to think of them, and not just about yourself.
Think about the messages you send them whenever you are behind the wheel. The "entitled while driving" mentality can start by running a stop sign at a school. It's not a far jump from there to not pulling over for emergency vehicles.
We want our kids to be decent people, and decent drivers, so we need to lead by example and get out of the way of emergency vehicles.
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