The driver’s impulse to rush
Recently I wrote about tricks for conserving gasoline that I learned from my bicycling:
- Don’t speed up hills.
- Coast whenever it is possible to do so without disturbing the traffic.
- Soft-pedal it when you see a red light ahead of you.
- Avoid jack-rabbit starts when the stoplight changes to green
In practising these tips, I have experienced my gas gauge inch downward much more slowly. Getting everyone to perform them is yet another story. To learn how difficult this is, just stand at a corner during rush hour and ‘driver-watch’.
A good percentage of drivers run red lights, gun their cars even though there is nowhere to go and swerve through traffic, often ending up at the next stoplight alongside the drivers they passed.
Why the rush?
Perhaps it is because a driver was caught in a traffic jam and now is making up for lost time. Or perhaps he or she is trying to make it to a meeting on time, not having allowed enough time to do so.. Although these possibilities don’t justify eccentric driving, they are reasonable explanations.
What is even more disturbing are people who, once they get behind the wheel, act as if they are under the influence of certain uncontrollable impulses. What is behind these impulses?
Some may have been Type-A personalities from the start of their lives; they are afflicted by impatience. Although they may detest this, overcoming it is extremely difficult.
But what about those born with patience who now find themselves growing increasingly impatient? Could this be linked to our changing culture? Probably so.
We now live in an age of instantaneousness. Enormous advances in the computer world represent major changes of our times. Faster computers complete work faster and faster every year. This holds equally true for our new cellular age. We don’t have to wait until we reach the office to get messages. Instant communication is literally at our fingertips. Also, airplanes and trains have thrust us into the postmodern age of supersonic speed. Add to this all the instantaneous advertisements on television that hit us like thunderbolts and it’s no wonder we are gripped with urges to rush!
We know we should slow down, and most of us desire to do so, but unless there is a time-stopping event like an enormous storm, we impulsively rush headlong forward. Interestingly, the word ‘impulse’ means to drive forward, connoting a hurried, uncontrolled forward motion.
This new age of ours leads me to believe that if we are ever to conserve gasoline, we will need more than hybrid cars or skillful driving techniques. An educational movement is needed that analyses the psychology of impulsive rushing and exposes not only its dangers, but its capacity to abuse our gasoline resources. We need to create mind-trips that take the rush out of our psyche and our daily commutes.
Fr Eugene Hemrick
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