Thanksgiving is history and we are now into one of the busiest times of the year, especially as far as law enforcement is concerned. Traffic will be heavy and patience will be low. Everyone wants to get to the store to get that special something before they are sold out. With this in mind, I want to give a few holiday tips that, if followed, will not only help you have a more enjoyable holiday season, but will also make it safer for you.
Every year you see an officer on the evening news giving the standard safety and driving tips, usually accompanied by your local interstate, complete with heavy traffic, in the background. The officer tells you to make sure you buckle up, allow extra time for your travels, and to not drink and drive. This is good, sound advise no matter what time of year it is. But one of the biggest culprits to bad driving is, in my opinion, impatience and inattention. This is also true while standing in line at the cash register. I am not a patient individual, myself. When I was young, I heard a sermon about patience and that I should pray about it. I thought, though, that if I did this, wouldn €™t I be inviting extra trials and tribulations into my life in order to build that patient demeanor? So €¦I didn €™t do it. I thought I €™d try it on my own. This hasn’t always worked out for me. I, like many of you, sometimes €œtalk € to the other drivers around me. This impatient trait was brought home one day when I was cut off in traffic and I heard my son, who was about five at the time; shout at the offending driver from his car seat behind me. When I glanced at him in the rearview mirror, I could see him shaking his little fist at the driver. When I turned to look at him, he shrugged and said €œWhat? € This incident helped me try harder to keep my thoughts to myself, at least when my kids were around. What I am getting at here is having common courtesy for your fellow man (or woman). In a time that is supposed to be filled with good cheer and fun times, we often feel more irritated, harassed and agitated. Ah, that Christmas Spirit! Those deadlines! Wouldn €™t Christmas be so much more enjoyable if people acted courteously toward one another? What if we let that person who is trying to change into our lane come on over? He wants to exit, too. Maybe then he wouldn €™t have to cut you off. And it won €™t add more than a few seconds to your drive time. What if you held the door for that lady with her arms full of packages trying to get into the post office? She €™d appreciate it.
This brings me to my next point. Going hand in hand with showing common courtesy is being aware of your surroundings. Way back when I took Drivers Ed (yes, they did actually have it that long ago; and no, it wasn €™t for a horse and buggy) we were taught about a phenomenon that was called €œhighway hypnosis €. This, we were taught, happened during long trips when drivers could not recall how far they had actually traveled due to zoning out mentally behind the wheel. Highway hypnosis is alive and well today, with many more distractions while we are driving then there used to be. Talking on cell phones is a biggie. I am not a proponent, though, of laws outlawing cell phone use in vehicles (although I am of texting). Police officers, after all, have to listen and talk on their radios. They operate a radar and camera system. They are trained to do all these tasks and they spend a lot of their time in their vehicles on the roadways. They are also constantly watching what is going on in their surroundings. Training €¦lots of training. We should all train ourselves to be more observant of our surroundings. There are safer ways for phone usage, such as Bluetooth €™s (should that be Blueteeth?). Some vehicles even have them built in these days. Anything that frees us up to pay better attention to our surroundings should be utilized. If we are paying better attention, then we will notice that car wanting to change lanes (he €™s had his turn signal on for the last two miles!). We €™ll notice that there are people coming through the door behind us and hold it instead of letting it fly back in their face. They may even say €œthank you €. And we might just see a crime in progress. We could see a shoplifter in our favorite superstore, or maybe a drunk driver weaving in heavy traffic. We might see a robbery. Hey, we €™ve got our cell phone handy: Call 911! Heightened awareness of our surroundings will make us, and everyone around us, safer. After all, criminals want to get their loved ones presents, too. They just don €™t want to pay for them.
As we enter this most joyous of seasons, where we spend extra time with family and friends, let €™s do our best to make it a safe and happy one. We at the Duncan Police Department wish all of you a very safe and chivalrous Christmas and a Happy New Year!