"You who are on the road must have a code that you can live by..." ~ Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
My daughter recently took her road test. She passed, which caused my husband and I, as parents, such mixed emotions. We were thrilled that she had passed, and were happy for her that she was now a licensed driver, but we were also petrified. There are always those who do not honor the "ten second rule".
A perfect example of this was the examiner who tested our daughter. She would have had a perfect score of 100%; he took 10 points off, because she slowed at an intersection where there was no stop sign at any of the corners, and she took her time going through. She also did this at a light; she took an extra five seconds before proceeding. The examiner let her know, full well, that this was something we never do; we are to proceed, as we have right of way.
I have instilled the "ten second rule" into my daughter's head, since she was about fourteen or fifteen years old. I have told her, repeatedly, that there are those who will blow the red light, the stop sign, or will neglect to yield, so to always proceed with caution through intersections. I have told her to also look full well, in every direction, which is what she did, that cost her 10 points on her road test.
I guess the DMV isn't big on giving out perfect scores, lol. But anyway...
The reason why I have instilled this and had her implement this tradition, as a new driver, is because of "black spot" areas, and because I have seen many, many people, who blow the light, long after it has turned red. Only because of my caution and diligence, have I avoided being sideswiped or broadsided by these people. And wouldn't you know it, most of them are either texting while driving, or chatting it up on their cell phones.
And a good part of them are adults.
I have already told my daughter that if I see her with her cell phone even near her hand, while I am in the vehicle with her, I will take it away and turn it off for good. I know this sounds weak, especially because she is almost 18 years of age, but the whole "It Can Wait" campaign has struck me very hard. I am 100% in support of this project, and have advised my daughter as such. I try to be a good role model. Especially because, two years ago, right after a flare of my illness, I was giving home a heads up that I was on my way back to the house, and I was pulled over by a police officer. He did not believe my story, which was in fact truth, but I admitted to my crime, and was promptly handed a ticket, which cost me $180. Not pretty.
What many of those who text/talk on the phone/blow lights during the process of driving fail to realize is that they are putting others at risk. It can wait. Do any of us remember the days before we had cellular devices? I do. I am showing my age, and that's fine. I pulled over to a pay phone, in a well lit area (thanks, Dad, for that tip, which should be common sense, anyway), stuck a dime in the phone and called home. This is what we did. We didn't pull a fast one on the sly, and try to get away with it. There are too many drivers on the road as it is, these days, on Long Island; why try to beat the system, when it is there to protect, not to harm? It can wait.
Another perfect example of the ten second rule can be seen in the incident that occurred last week, with one of my daughter's friends. My daughter's friend had right of way at a major intersection. She had a green light. The other driver, who was an adult female in a minivan, was on her cell phone, and twenty seconds after the light turned red, had blown the light, stopped in the middle of the intersection, and then proceeded. My daughter's friend, a new driver herself, tried to avoid crashing into the woman's vehicle, but if she had done so, she would have been hit by three other vehicles that were coming from the opposite direction. Case and point: My daughter's friend sustained multiple injuries, which included a nasty fracture of her wrist, multiple contusions, and burns to her face from deployment of the airbag. The other driver, who knew she was wrong, jumped out of the vehicle and screamed, "My leg! My leg!" But she was walking on it, and jumping on it, so apparently, she was just screaming for the hell of it, since she was clearly in the wrong.
I am grateful that my daughter's friend had the presence of mind to call the police immediately; she was in shock, but she had another friend who had seen the accident (after the fact, unfortunately), whom she called, while she sat by the side of the road, clearly shaken. The other driver kept up her chatter about her leg to the police, but if one is walking and jumping up and down on it, clearly, you are not injured. Unless you are in shock yourself, and your adrenaline has not reached normal levels yet. My daughter's friend was taken to the hospital; the other driver declined. Yet another example of why the ten second rule should really be enforced.
What can we do about this epidemic of people who are not attentive to the roads? Can we complain among ourselves, and watch nothing get done? No. This defeats all purpose of moving forward, and allows us to stew in our own juices about "how unfair life is". Can we petition our elected officials for a solution? Can we ask our already depleted police force to monitor every intersection of every street, in order to prevent accidents?
The easiest way to prevent these accidents is to remember that you are the defensive driver. You must be cautious on the road, you must be dilligent in your task, and you must remember that you are responsible for your own life, as well as the lives of everyone in your vehicle, and for everyone else's on the road. You must take the ten seconds before proceeding, even if others wish to go around you or blow their horns. You must pull over to the side of the road, if you wish to test or make a phone call. And sure, this sounds great in writing. But if each one of us, even if one of us, recognizes themselves in this blog today, and does something about it, it will be something. Defensive driving does not mean that we become drivers at Riverhead Raceway. No, defensive driving is about making sure that you keep yourself, as well as others, safe, by obeying rules of the road, by clearly paying attention to what is going on about you, and by avoiding any and all distractions, including cell phone use, loud music, or even changing the radio station.
We want to maintain the safety of our new young drivers. We want to maintain the safety for ourselves. So remember the ten second rule as you proceed today, and may you proceed with caution.
And don't worry if the examiner on your road test takes ten or even twenty points off your exam, if you follow this because the life you save might just be your own.