#Editorial #OurVoice #MichaelHallisey
The majority of us learned how to drive in high school, which means a lot of our habits were established while we were teenagers. Stop if you remember you and your friends establishing funny rules to excuse going over the speed limit or blowing by an inconvenient stop sign. If a traffic sign is bordered in white or black it’s more a suggestion then it is a requirement. Sure, it elicited a laugh when you messed up in front of friends, but then some of us started taking it to heart. That the rules of the road don’t apply to us. Not all of them. The restrictions are irritating. How grating it is on the nerves to have to apply our breaks. The speed limit is too slow.
The past few weeks have demonstrated poor decisions that have resulted in tragedy. In Indiana, three children, all siblings, were struck and killed while crossing the street to board their school bus. Their school bus was stopped, red lights on, and its red stop sign was deployed for all oncoming drivers. Nonetheless, a driver passed by and struck the young school children. Just a week before, a local driver nearly did the same thing. This time, the driver deliberately sped off the road, passed the bus off the shoulder on its right, and threaded itself between a waiting father and his young child stepping off the bus. Judging from the surveillance camera over the father’s shoulder, his child was a split second away from sprinting towards him. That split second, mere milliseconds, was the margin of error between numbskull idiocy and vehicular manslaughter.
Last week we read how a popular retired school teacher was in the crosswalk when he was struck by a passing car. In this case, the motorist drove away either unaware or running away from the scene of an accident. The teacher is recovering from his injuries, but the prospect of losing him to a hit-and-run accident in our neighborhood still leaves us disturbed.
The rules of the road are not negotiable and certainly not a suggestion to be implied as optional. State law requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in our crosswalks, yet we seldom see that happen. We see it first hand from the crosswalk directly in front of our Delmar office on Delaware Avenue. Some of us have nearly been hit by motorists who have decided their respective appointments are more important than the lives they put in danger by breaking the law.
It’s not a laughing matter anymore. Your teenaged friends are not laughing alongside you anymore. Your children are watching. Our children are watching. We’re watching indifferent souls ignoring others. We see distracted drivers reading the phone from their laps as they consciously keep chin up to conceal their actions. Those drivers should know that while you do that, your eyelids are drawn down, giving you away.
Hopefully, it’s just a police officer pulling you aside to remind you to follow the rules. Sure, there is that flush of embarrassment that washes over you the moment you’re caught. Some of you may be compassionate enough to feel remorse for your lack of thought. You may even fear the backlash from people who find out. If you’re afraid people will judge you, even be angry towards you, after learning that you were a distracted driver or, worse, chose deliberately to break the rules because you personally felt above the law, you’ll be right. People are angry. The rules of the road are established for everyone to follow. Every. One. For you to think the rules don’t apply to you is a decision that you feel better than everyone else.
Sorry, but no. As you will see, this editorial is not boarded in white or black. This observation is, in fact, absolute. The next time you buzz by a pedestrian in a crosswalk because you’re late for spin class, know you’ve earned the ire of an entire community. The worst case scenario is that you hit and kill someone along the way.
Is that something you’re willing to live with?
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.