Defensive Driving or Simply Loving my Neighbor?

The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang:
“He is good;
    his love endures forever.”
Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

  • 2 Chronicles 5:13-14

Love and faithfulness meet together;
    righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs forth from the earth,
    and righteousness looks down from heaven.
The Lord will indeed give what is good,
    and our land will yield its harvest.
Righteousness goes before him
    and prepares the way for his steps.

  • Psalm 85:10-13

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The Lord loves the gates of Zion
    more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

  • Psalm 87:1-2

The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

  • Hosea 3:1-2

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  • John 13:34-35

As for the first four Scriptures. God is love, and His love endures forever. Love and faithfulness go together. God loves His dwelling place. And we are to love even when the other person may not return that love and faithfulness to us. This bit of writing kind of hits those points when speaking of driving around.

I picked up my wife at dialysis the other day.  We had been given a payment from our insurance company.  They had made too much money, and they were giving us money back.  Really a mutual company puts their profits into savings accounts for each customer and then, for ours at least, when you get “really old” like I am, they start giving you ten percent of that money each year.  The net is that I can have the insurance company pay my insurance premiums for four months, essentially.

My wife wanted to go grocery shopping afterwards.  But I changed our plans before we started.  I had forgotten my credit card at a restaurant the night before and they had it ready for me to retrieve.  We made a figure eight route and my wife liked seeing the different roads to get to the same places.

But we started with crazy drivers.  We had crazy drivers throughout.  We ended by being crazy ourselves.  And we both arrived home, nervous wrecks, but the car was not wrecked.

On three occasions, we found ourselves in the path of an on-coming car and in each case, we heard the on-coming car’s wheels chirp against the pavement, not in hitting the brakes, but in hitting the accelerator.  They wanted to T-bone us, but we moved out of their way fast enough.

There were countless people who did not stop at red lights or stop signs.  One of those was one of the near T-bone accidents from the paragraph above, but how can it be an accident when they are doing it on purpose?

There was one occasion where the car in front of us came to a complete stop.  My wife noticed that the person driving was waving the on-coming car for them to turn left.  Only a few problems there.  There was no road or driveway to turn left onto.  The on-coming car slammed on the brakes wondering what the crazy driver was doing, and then drove past us, shaking her head.  No one could turn in any direction, trees lined both sides of the road.  Crazy, simple crazy.

There were other instances where the traffic light changed, and no one moved until the light turned yellow and the car that had not gone on the green drove through the intersection, the only car to move.  And yes, more than one time this happened.  I suggested that they were texting and never noticed the light change.  Then again, it was a miracle that people behind the lead vehicle were not honking.  Maybe they were texting also.  It brings back memories of an old bumper sticker, “Your car may be faster, but I am in front of you.”

My wife and I were not in a hurry.  Those who meant to harm us did not do so, although my wife nearly broke the sissy bar a few times.  Those that were oblivious to our existence did not harm us.  Those who drove down the middle of the road, making us drive in the ditch, only got our passenger side tires muddy, no harm done.  At one point, I drove into the ditch and stopped there while five or six cars that drove down the middle of the road, and they had a legitimate shoulder to use.

But I asked my wife, “When we moved to Germany during the Cold War, we had to take the Defensive Driver Course.  Should that not be a prerequisite for all drivers?”  She had her doubts if it would help.

For years, I kept my card signifying completion of the Defensive Driver Course in my wallet.  I took it out when someone explained that the only people in the USA that have ever been to that course (probably an exaggeration) were people who had been convicted of drunk driving.  In Germany, if you were caught drunk driving, they made you go for a year without a driver’s license.  When you got it back, there was a red stripe across your photo.  If you were caught a second time, they completed the red “X” over your photo, and you were never allowed to drive again.  To make it worse, when you were suspended due to the first offense, you had to show your restriction to your employer.  While the Facility Engineer, I had to make arrangements for someone to drive one of my engineering directors to worksites until his suspension was lifted.

It was required in Germany to get your Internationaler Führerschein, your international driver’s license.  The inside cover is shown in the photo above, listing all the countries that accept that proof of driving skill.  My name, birthdate, etc. was on page 34, if you are wondering about the stamp.  The pages in between were blank since I never got into trouble that required a country to place a stamp of “exclusions.”  I had to have a valid US driver’s license.  I had to complete the Defensive Driver Course.  And I had to sit in a booth, holding a “steering wheel” and then when, anywhere in my field of vision, a yellow light appeared, I had to take my foot from the accelerator pedal to the brake.  It was a reaction time test.  It would do us no good getting those tests at every DMV in the USA.  People never watch the road, so what difference does it make that they have a poor reaction time? And then the written test was a page of one hundred European road signs.  I had to identify all 100 signs.  I missed two of them.  Grrrr!  I think my wife missed four.  But you could miss twenty and still pass.

The whole concept of defensive driver skills is not that your skills should be better, but you must watch out for the other driver who is paying no attention to you at all.  Thus, driving defensively.  You must follow the car ahead at a safe distance for the conditions of the road (wet, icy, snow pack, a herd of cows in the road, etc.).

I have written about how from early in life I had a good safety attitude.  Then for eight years I worked for DuPont where safety became a way of life.  I worked as the Safety guy for our company (and for a time the group of companies we were a part of).  I did that for over 15 years at the end of my career.  So, maybe I see safety as a way of life and others do not.

I recently wrote a post about an Invitation to be Stupid, which talked about how people willingly violate the law, considering themselves immortal, I suppose.

But my wife is correct.  Defensive Driver School is not the answer.  The answer is twofold.  You must realize that you are not immortal.  And you must love those crazy, careless, stupid, and sometimes mean and cruel people in the other vehicles.

The first step in loving them is to realize that the driver who makes you go into the ditch to avoid the accident is human.  Then you must realize that you are human, and you might make a rare mistake yourself.

And you must realize that God is the pilot, not the co-pilot.  If God is not the pilot, you might not make it home safely the next time.

When Jesus said that He was giving us a new command, it was really several commands from the Old Testament rolled into one package.  And that command has been around for nearly 2,000 years.

Love one another.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.


Add yours →

  1. Linda Lee Adams/Lady Quixote March 5, 2022 — 10:00 pm

    Oh my…. I’m so glad you and your wife made it home safely! It’s getting crazier than ever out there.

    I took a defensive driver’s course in Houston, Texas, back in 1977. No, I wasn’t drinking and driving. The course was a job requirement for driving a Yellow Cab.

    I did not last very long as a cab driver. I kept getting lost and some of my customers were scary.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Is it always that bad on the road ? – praise God you both made it home safely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this old bumper sticker, “Your car may be faster, but I am in front of you.” They need to bring that back!

    Liked by 1 person

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