Saturday, June 19, 2010

The people who don't care if you live or die

The people who don't are if you live or die are here. Far more numerous and dangerous than the truly hateful and malicious, indifferent drivers operate as if their speed and direction take precedence over anyone else's.

I say, "If you don't have flashing lights on top of your vehicle or someone in the seat next to you giving birth or bleeding out, back off." But that's just me.

The population surge in the summer brings many more people than usual who drive like they're in a movie. They careen around other vehicles slowing to turn. They peel out of intersections. They blast through closing gaps. Cut! Take two! You didn't get close enough to that stunt man on the bicycle!

Yesterday when one lane of the street that runs past our parking lot was blocked by a large delivery truck, traffic diverted itself through our parking lot uninvited, like a river leaving its channel. Most of the drivers kept going at street speed. Anyone walking to the deli or test riding a bike didn't matter to these drivers who thought they'd discovered such a clever way around the blocked lane.

"I don't care if you live or die. I have an appointment to get my nails done."

"I don't care if you live or die. I need to make my tee time."

"I don't care if you live or die. I have to run these errands and get back to the lake house for a barbecue with the people I care about."

"I don't care if you live or die. I'm late meeting my friends to go jet skiing."

Most of these people would be shocked if they finally had the accident they caused. Some would be truly remorseful. Even if they escaped criminal charges, they would probably make an effort to be more careful in the future. All they require to become so thoughtful is a human sacrifice. Anything less is just a fender bender. Those happen all the time. Sorry about that! Gotta run!


Steve A said...

Is it that they don't care or that they've gotten numb to the fact that they are operating dangerous machinery without paying attention to what can happen? I guess the practical effect is the same.

Ed Sailland said...

The technical term for this behaviour is psychopathy (aka "antisocial personality disorder" in the Newspeak so beloved of contemporary trick cyclists). Estimates of the prevalence of these "intraspecific predators" in the general population range from 0.6% to 5%, I believe. I favour the higher figure. Indeed, I think it far too conservative.

cafiend said...

Ed -- Can one claim temporary or situational psychopathy? I do in my personal rants when driving or cycling frequently refer to them as sociopathic. I believe driving in particular brings on the condition as each seeks to have a personal relationship with the road and their vehicle of choice. All those other vehicles are just extras or the easily destroyed antagonists in each individual's movie.

Justine Valinotti said...

Steve, I think you're right. Also, I think drivers are insulated by the tons of metal surrounding them and therefore feel invincible.

Recently, I had an encounter with such a driver. When I met up with her at the next red light--where she was leaning on her horn--she rolled down her window and yelled, "Waddaya doin'? You're gonna get killed out here!"

"The way you're driving, I just might."