There is a primal mood of territorialism when it comes to time behind the wheel of a car.


Something devolves in our DNA and we fall back to a tried and true primitive past where we will defend our turf with cars instead of caveman clubs. The stakes go up even higher when you try to drive old iron through the minefield of today’s traffic.


Formerly civilized human beings revert to a type of behavior that can generously be described as anti-social when they get behind the wheel of a car.



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We have the real potential to become self-centered and possibly violent sub-human primates simply because things do not go well in traffic. Some don’t play well with the other kids in traffic and erroneously assume that they are the most important creature on the road, thus granting them complete immunity to the rules and etiquette of the road. It’s an asphalt jungle, but it is indeed a jungle out there on the streets, so I will update the topic of responsible driver behavior.


The first thing on the list for every driver in 2013 is put away the cell phone. I come from an ancient time when portable communication devices were available only in Star Trek, Get Smart and Dick Tracy fictional scenarios, so I learned long ago that my time behind the wheel is best spent driving the car. Nobody ever saw Sulu texting while he was the helmsman on the Enterprise because Kirk would have beaten the hell out of him-that is how things will roll in the future. Meanwhile, back in 2013, I freely admit that I cannot drive a car and text message my buddies about every minute detail of my pretty boring life that will only get interesting after the crash in an “OMG, I really screwed up” kind of way. Remorse over highly preventable acts of stupidity is a shallow and self-serving reaction that nobody is buying these days.


Self-centered drivers do not limit themselves to cell phone idiocy because many of them also find no real need to use signal lights during their road journeys. They know where they are headed in most cases and they believe that they have no obligation to share that information with other drivers. The signal light is just for mere mortals, but even people with delusions of godhood should also use turn signals. The roads are no place for guessing games.




Clearly, a primal sense of territorialism will often trump civilized behavior in traffic. A glaring example of territorialism occurs too often on the streets when a merging or lane-changing driver properly uses their signal light to indicate their intentions and nobody gives them any quarter on the road. Too many people are not willing to extend a basic road courtesy and allow a driver to follow their simple dream to make a safe lane change or traffic merge. The selfish drivers who refuse to allow other drivers an opportunity to merge on a highway are also dangerously stupid drivers who are too thick to see the big picture about why a lane merge is a tricky maneuver that requires other drivers to move over or slow down to keep a lid on potential disaster.




The onus is also on the lane-change/merge driver to be smart about the situation. It also doesn’t hurt to wave a thank you to a driver who allows you into a lane just to prove you also buy into basic social courtesies found in civilized societies.


Sadly, we live in a world where civilized behavior is not a condition for modern living. That in itself is simply a lamentable passing of basic social skills, but it may also be a recipe for serious disaster on the road.


Truth is that basic courtesy is not a sign of weakness and can actually save your life on a road.


Jim Sutherland