What the Road Sees
As the sun sinks below the distant horizon, fluorescent lights flicker on to illuminate an ever-awake road. Occasionally this lonely stretch of pavement will have a moment of reprieve: a time when no cars are hurtling down its surface and the world has adopted the charade of peacefulness, but these moments are rare. The status quo belongs to a bustling energy filled with the roar of motors and a million busy lives endlessly intersecting. The cars that shoot down this road’s expanse may seem small in the grand scheme; from a passing plane they appear no bigger than ants, just the normal patterns of human civilization, but this is only one side of the truth. Each fast-traveling metal ant shelters a fragile human life. They are an enormous weight for the road to bear. They rattle the asphalt, and screeching tires leave long streaks of rubber in their wake. The road is tired. It has seen children grow, moving through life with vibrant joy. It has also seen these same lives snuffed out far too quickly and far too soon. The cause varies. Sometimes it is inevitable, a technical issue which spirals into tragedy, but far more often these deaths are entirely preventable. The cause lays in behavior. A phone is a clear indicator of possible danger. As a young face glances away, the road holds its breath; it waits anxiously as the vehicle swerves within its lane. When a tire glances over the shoulder, the road takes its opportunity by letting out a warning cry out that rattles through the vehicle’s frame. This often results in a momentary change in behavior; nervous eyes fly to the road which breathes a heavy sigh of relief. But this change is seldom permanent. Soon that same driver will convince themselves that just a glance won’t hurt and reverts back to the same distracted behavior. When multiple are in the car, the road is even more worried. It can hear the excited chatter of voices from inside, often accompanied by the pounding of music and the floating tones of laughter. With this behavior comes distracted drivers: eyes turned away from the road, focused on each other instead. They exist in their own world, not realizing how easily it could be cracked open and obliterated. The road worries. It has seen countless deaths and will see countless more. It is helpless to make a change, but we are not. Humans can see these same behaviors and understand their consequences. We are capable of realizing unsafe driving habits should not just be part of the normal patterns of human civilization. It is important to take responsibility for our own actions and realize the very real effects they have on the world around us. Parents can exemplify these positive qualities. They can teach their children that the excited chirp of a new text message does not trump attentive driving; teens can encourage each other to drive safely and to be safe passengers by buckling in and encouraging others to do the same. Through raised awareness and positive modeling, a change can be made; safe driving can be made the norm rather than the exception. Every decision has an effect, and being present and cognizant of these effects is key to the path to change.
Reckless driving takes countless lives, but it has become part of driving culture, especially for teens. This piece reflects on these driving practices and the power we hold in making a change for the better.