Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Responsibility of Driving

*I wrote this in response to an accident that occurred in Arlington, Texas some time back. A father was pushing his young son in a stroller to cross an intersection when a car failed to yield the right of way and caused an accident that took the life of the little boy.*

When I first saw this headline, I was outraged! Like many other readers (I’m guessing), the only thing I could think about was the tiny little life that was taken away. Although there is nothing that can be done to bring the little boy back, there is still an empty feeling that lingers. There is no sense of ‘justice’ and in a case like this, I’m not sure there’ll ever be. Unfortunately, there are some things in life that just simply…suck; really suck. Unimaginable things happen where no one is really at ‘fault,’ at least not in the sense that we’re used to. When you’re younger, this concept is simple; you do something wrong, you get into trouble. There is this image of good versus evil and you hope that good triumphs and evil suffers the consequences. But what happens when there isn’t a clear picture of this? What happens when there isn’t some inherently evil person who commits a bad deed? This is where the moral dilemma comes into play. There are many other instances where there is a gray area for ethics and I’ll admit that it’s difficult to wrap your head around. For example, we can all agree that theft is wrong, morally and legally. However, what if you were starving and you stole food to feed your family? Are you still legally in the wrong? How about morally? To me, it’s a gray area. We wouldn’t deny food to someone in need of it, so we’d morally excuse them (even if they were legally found guilty). How about this one: you’re working in the military and you’re ordered to be part of an air strike that will obliterate your entire hometown. Would you accept your orders or would you defy them? What if you found yourself in a situation where you must choose to end the lives of a few to save even more? Life isn’t always black and white; as I’ve said, there are gray areas. I don’t think we, as human beings, deal with these types of situations well. It disrupts the normal balance of right and wrong. Yet, these types of situations occur daily. Sometimes we simply have to accept the fact that accidents happen. Now, I’m not saying that the lady who caused this accident was right. Obviously, she was not; she failed to yield the right of way and because of her carelessness, a baby died. However, carelessness does not necessarily equal callousness. That’s what makes this particular incident difficult to accept. Legally, the only consequence of this action is a ticket. She did something we’ve all likely done at least once in our lives, whether it was intentional or not. When you’re trying to turn against traffic, it’s difficult to see what is coming. And perhaps sometimes we misjudge if we’re clear to make that turn. We might even have a line of cars behind us, honking and encouraging us to pull out into traffic when we cannot clearly see. I know this has happened to me and although I won’t give in and turn unless I know I am clear, not everyone reacts the same. I hate that this accident happened. I hate that an innocent little boy paid the price for a careless mistake. I’m even sorry that this woman will have to live with this for the rest of her life. There are no winners in this case, no triumphant party emerging. It is absolutely heartbreaking, but maybe we can all take something from this tragedy. We need to be looking out for everyone on the road, whether on foot or some type of vehicle. We need to make our roads safe for anyone who travels down it. Please be aware of your surroundings and always have your eyes on the road. The things we get distracted by are never important enough to make a colossal mistake such as this. Driving is a great responsibility that many fail to take seriously. It shouldn’t take a dead child to make us realize this. When you’re behind the wheel, make sure you’re watching for pedestrians, traveling the speed limit and obeying traffic laws. And please, try and plan your trip in advance, allowing for possible accidents, road construction and traffic in general. It is so much better to arrive at your destination fifteen minutes early than to have to endure the guilt of taking a person’s life for the rest of yours.

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