Written by Hillsboro Free Press Wednesday, 11 July 2007 06:26
The Pope, God bless him, issued a set of “Ten Commandments” for drivers last month, telling motorists to be charitable to others on the highways, to refrain from drinking and driving and to take time to pray before they even buckle up, according to an Associated Press story on the unusual document from the Vatican’s office.
The Pontiff stated that vehicles can be “an occasion of sin”—particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.
Driving can bring out “primitive” behavior in motorists, including “impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code.”
It’s not that the Pope has anything against driving. His “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road” points out the benefits of family outings, getting the sick to the hospital and allowing people to see other cultures.
But, he also adds in the document that problems arise when drivers dominate others by speeding, kill themselves and other motorists by piloting unsafe cars and driving while impaired by drugs, alcohol or sleepiness.
The holy man called for drivers to obey speed limits and “to exercise a host of Christian virtues: charity to fellow drivers, prudence on the roads, hope of arriving safely and justice in the event of crashes,” according to the AP story.
The “Drivers’ Ten Commandments,” as listed by the document (my thoughts in parenthesis), are:
1. You shall not kill. (His Holiness does not specify roadkill incidents, so he probably would not expect you to dodge that deer and endanger yourself or your passengers.)
2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm. (Road rage is definitely a no-no.)
3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events. (The only fingers you should show are in the shape of the peace sign. No single digits allowed. Ask yourself, “How would Jesus drive?”)
4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents. (Though there are still a few Good Samaritans out there, they are becoming fewer and farther between.)
5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin. (Teens should not retire to the back seat for extra-curricular activity. Sins are likely to follow. Adults shouldn’t either. Leg cramps are likely to follow.)
6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so. (Don’t drink and drive. Don’t drive when tired. Don’t drive when you are distraught. Don’t drive while text messaging.)
7. Support the families of accident victims. (We do a pretty good job of this one. But, remember, most of us will be affected by an automobile crash at some time in our lives.)
8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness. (It feels good to forgive and be forgiven.)
9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party. (If you drive a truck or huge SUV, don’t squash that little old lady in her Prius.)
10. Feel responsible toward others. (Be unpredictable. Do the smartest thing on the road.)
Of course, the Vatican is a long way from Hillsboro. So, we should perhaps add some local commandments to the Pope’s list. I am willing to take on that daunting task. Here are my additional 10 commandments with explanatory comments.
1. Thou shalt not stay in the passing lane when thou art not passing anyone. People from Texas and Oklahoma seem to be particularly blind to the need to “keep right except to pass.”
2. Thou shalt not go directly to a center lane when turning right onto a multiple-lane road nor directly to the right lane when turning left onto a multiple-lane road. This little stunt caused a fatality accident in Wichita in late June when a driver merged across several lanes and forced a head-on collision with vehicles coming from the other direction. Even in Hillsboro, this practice can cause issues, and it’s done on a regular basis on D Street.
3. Thou shalt not roll through stop signs. A complete stop, for those who are challenged in this area, means thou couldst get out and changeth a tire at that speed. Nothing else, including almost stopping, shallst constituteth a complete stop. Period. This also applieth to right turns at a four-way stop such as the one downtown and at the corner of D Street and Ash.
4. Thou shalt keep thy stereo volume reasonable. Thou shalt not assume everyone likes to hear thine thumping bass from Highway 56 to the golf course. Thy car shouldst not register 6.8 on the Richter Scale.
5. Thou shalt take only one parking space and shalt not parketh across two lines, even though thou thinkest thy automobile ist special and shouldst not be subject to door dings.
6. Thou shalt refrain from crossing center double lines to park, though thou seest a diagonal spot beckoning from the opposite side. Likewise, thou shalt not backeth from one side of the street out of a diagonal spot and proceedeth in the opposite direction.
7. Thou shalt yield to pedestrians and bicycle riders, though they may doeth the most asinine things imaginable. Thou shalt always assume walkers and riders have not seen that thou approacheth in thy 3,000-pound missile.
8. Thou shalt not park blocking sidewalks, nor shalt thou park on the grass of thy yard. If these acts are not illegal in Hillsboro, they shouldst be. People receive tickets in Goessel for blocking walkways, for Heaven’s sake. As for parking on grass, especially in front yards, it’s just tacky.
9. Use of thy signaling devices ist not optional when thou changeth lanes or planneth to turneth. Therefore, thou shalt signal thy intentions at all times, even when thou believeth no law enforcement official watcheth.
10. Thou shalt hang up thy wireless device and focus wholly on thy driving lest thou forgeteth all other commandments and safety rules of the road and crasheth thy car.