Below is an article that is featured in the premiere issue of MASK the Magazine. M.A.S.K., an acronym for Mothers Awareness of School-aged Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to educate both parents and children about the issues facing our youth today and to empower children to make safe, healthy choices. The first edition of this content-rich publication is bullying. MASK Launched its Premiere Magazine Issue on Bullying as President Obama Conducted an Anti-Bullying Conference in Washington, D.C.
Have you ever been in a situation when someone:
• Won’t let you in when you turn your signal on to merge into a lane?
• Begins to move over into your lane without any warning?
• Weaves in and out of traffic to gain a few car lengths?
• Drives in the HOV lane during rush hour and they don’t have any passengers in their car?
• Cuts you off?
• Clearly is not obeying the rules of the road and creates a dangerous situation for you?
• Takes a parking spot when you have been patiently waiting for someone to pull out?
• Honks their horn at you because you are not “moving fast enough”?
If you are a driver, I am sure you have experienced many, if not all of these situations while behind the wheel of a car. I have no doubt that if asked, “what makes you crazy when you are driving?” you could rattle off many more situations. You may also be one of the people that actually do these things while you are driving.
The purpose of this article is not to rant about the “crazy” drivers out there, but to help parents think about the message they are conveying to their children. What parents need to pay attention to is their own driving behavior, as well as their response to the behavior of other drivers. As a parent, you are setting the tone and creating “a model” of behavior behind the wheel of a car for your children. They learn from you at a very early age, and formulate in their mind what is “acceptable behavior” when driving. Whether they are two or a teenager preparing to drive, you need to be cognizant of what you are doing, because THEY ARE WATCHING YOU! So, let me ask you what you do in response to situations on the road. Do you:
• Yell and scream profanities, or just yell and scream and call the other driver names?
• Get next to them and try to show them your displeasure?
• Try to “teach them a lesson” by slowing down, hitting your brakes, cut in front of them, or tailgate them?
While any of these behaviors may make you feel better, the fact is, they are all inappropriate. The appropriate response, particularly when you have children of ANY age in your vehicle is to let it go and if your child is old enough, discuss what just happened and why it is so important to pay attention while driving. All any of us has control over is the way WE drive, not what others do. Defensive driving means protecting yourself from the mistakes, and quite frankly, the stupidity, of others.