Opinion: Share the road


Scooting along in traffic, we come to know that some people like to use their brakes more than their accelerator. They are a bit more cautious. They planned ahead and take their time. They are not going to risk their lives, or that of anyone else, in making up for “lost time” on the way to the grocery. How can these drivers not be loved?

Still, others — who like to use their accelerator more than their brakes — might argue the reverse. “Don’t these slowpokes have anything better to do?” While they may be taking their time, they are also taking ours, so the argument goes. Productive people don’t waste time plodding along. There is nothing wrong with living a full life. There is nothing wrong with moving a little more deliberately through space. These good people are making the best of every moment. How can they not be loved?

The challenge, of course, is that we all share the same streets. Sometimes, we even share an office, home, or bed with one decidedly in the opposite camp from our own. Sure, we can make it all work. Each of us, in certain conditions, use both the gas and the brake pedals. But mostly, we tend to deploy the one most closely aligned with our perspective on life. Are we likely to accelerate into traffic or hold back, reticent because of the risk? Even as we make our own choices, are we also imposing our views on those who share the road with us? Are we that certain of our justification?

As a society, we’ve set some boundaries around it all through myriad regulations, codes and enforcement mechanisms. But mostly, we just have to figure out how to share. Accelerator or brakes, do we leave room for others?