Kicking off the holiday season: What’s the rush!

December 24, 2019

It appears to me and I suspect to you, too, that many of our friends and neighbors, and perhaps some non-friends and non-neighbors are moving down Route One and other motor roads in Delmarva at speeds beyond both posted and logical limits.  This is an observation, and it is merely just that, although the state police have some data in this regard. 

However, the reality is that many of us are operating our motor vehicles at higher rates of speed, and this commentator would like to examine some reasons, and perhaps even some solutions. Let us be clear that your writer is by no means an expert with regard to traffic and speed, merely an observer.

So why are so many more of us risking the inevitable accidental outcomes by seriously exceeding speed limits to the tune of 10, 15, 20 miles per hour? Where are we going at these increasing speeds?

All right, giving some the benefit of the doubt, there are medical situations which may warrant speed or support a driver’s insistence to overuse the accelerator.  Of course, that is the purpose of a vehicle called an ambulance with its siren and flashing lights, etc. Also in the event that womb contractions are at ever-increasing frequencies, we might excuse the nervous driving companion of an extremely pregnant passenger for rushing down the road toward Beebe or Nanticoke. 

However, it appears that the vehicle passing us on the right is being driven by a sole occupant and he is probably not pregnant. And trust me, this particular driver is probably not an obstetrician on the way to assist in a birth either. We can imagine a few other scenarios where speed may be of the essence. There are those so-called “emergency” situations where you have been informed that a member of the family is in some form of distress.

Emotion overcomes reason, wherein the driver feels that his or her arrival at the scene of the “emergency” a minute or three earlier than safer driving may allow, elevates said driver to hero status. One could easily arrive at several excuses for gross infractions of reasonable miles per hour in one’s automobile, but all would pale in comparison to simply slowing down just a bit. 

It appears that there is a need to speed, a need to pass, a need not to allow the other driver to be ahead. There are those who even accelerate to the intersection where other automobiles are already stopped due to a traffic signal, or even speed up to a red light. What’s with that! It appears that more than just a few of us need to be first, and if not first, at least ahead of that “other” guy or gal. 

It is certainly hoped that these speeding drivers are not trying to compensate for some other entity in their lives where they find themselves wanting or behind. Admittedly this is a complex issue, but an important one to consider, because the speeder puts the rest of us at risk. With one’s hands on the steering wheel and foot on the gas pedal, the feeling and reality of control abounds. This motorist is in charge of the rate on the road.

S/he is king of the hill; nothing is better than s/he is, at least not at the moment. There certainly seems to be an increase of this need as we navigate the main and auxiliary roads to, from, and within the Cape Region. 

It is difficult to rationalize the necessity of speeding merely for the “rush,” for certainly the pace probably has little to do with anything legitimate when we see our fellow motorists racing to the next traffic light or even stop sign, and more importantly weaving in and out of the cars and trucks in the parallel lanes, and often, single lanes. 

Carefully stated, these excessive speeds put us all in danger, similar to someone with a firearm in a store or in a school.  An automobile in motion could be a weapon, and as a weapon should be used carefully, not recklessly, and certainly not angrily.  There is certainly nothing that personally urgent to justify placing others in danger as we make our way to our respective destinations. 

Patience needs to replace aggression in the operation of our respective vehicles, thus possibly keeping the speeds at safer levels for all of us.  

After all, what is the rush when we really think about it, other than perhaps to feel superior and better and ahead?  Granted, many of us feel inferior, worse, and behind for a myriad of reasons, none related to driving. Therefore, there is little need to express these feelings of need openly and publicly in the presence of our motoring neighbors, whom some feel must be passed, tailgated, honked, or fingered. 

Peter E. Carter of Lewes is a retired educator.

  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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