20, Av 5754
To Young Drivers
Written by the rabbi
Dedicated to the memory of
R' Ytzchak Yoseph B"R Chaim Shlomoh
A high percentage of the automobile accidents today are caused by young and amateur drivers, and there are a number of reasons for this. There are beginners learning to drive who want to save money on their lessons and therefore pressure the driving instructor to allow them to take their driving test before they have actually gained enough experience. Sometimes they manage to pass these tests and then take to the road before actually being prepared. The result: automobile accidents. Even more surprising is the fact that sometimes the parents themselves intervene and put pressure on the driving instructor to shorten the instruction period, and this is certainly not to the benefit of their son or daughter. For, what good is saving money if it results in endangering the son or daughter by allowing them to drive before they are truly prepared?
Even one who studies properly, comes prepared for the test, and succeeds in passing it, must still gain a lot of experience and skill before being capable of driving as he should. During the first stages, while the driver is still amateur and lacking experience, he does not know how to decide if his own speed is high in relation to that of the situation on the road. There is a tendency to increase one's speed. There is an inner, psychological drive to demonstrate confidence, to show that one is not afraid. This drive is not necessarily directed towards others. The driver may be trying to prove to himself that he is not afraid. This inner drive exists in each one of us.
Even those who harbor a sincere desire to drive properly and in keeping with the law have a tendency to drive too quickly. This is because they do not know how to gauge properly at what speed to drive according to the traffic situation and the condition of the road. Do not think, young driver, that because you drive a little bit slower this is a sign of indecisiveness. To the contrary, it evidences maturity, responsibility, efficacy, and confidence. Speeding, on the other hand, demonstrates lack of confidence. A person covers up for himself by behaving in a manner opposite his true self. One must be strong, overcome weaknesses, and drive at a speed which allows for guaranteed control of the automobile. In this manner, one can be ready for whatever sort of situation may arise. When driving with friends, too, one must drive at a normal speed and not be lured into driving fast.
After three months on the road, one suddenly becomes aware of a great difference in his manner of driving compared to when he started out. After driving for an entire year, one comes to the realization that even after three months he still had not really know how to drive, and that it takes a lot of experience in order to know how to drive properly. Therefore, young drivers, new drivers, please, for your own sake and for the sake of others, be cautious. If you are at all uncertain as to whether or not you are driving too quickly, slow down to the point at which you feel that you are in complete control of the situation. If we exert ourselves, and take added precautions, in the spirit of the Torah's admonition to "be exceedingly careful to protect yourselves," we will no doubt hear less about automobile accidents.
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