Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Happened to the Courtesy Wave?

It is my new mission to be a polite driver (here in Massachusetts, if you believe the rumors, polite drivers are as rare as standing ovations for Johnny Damon). It was a dark and stormy night (much less rare here these days) and as I exited the grocery store parking lot, I slowed to let a small car cut in front of me. He drove directly in front of my car with nary a glance, never mind a courtesy thank you wave! Do you want to know why? I'll tell you why . . . he was too busy talking on his cell phone! If I'm repeating an oft-heard complaint, please forgive. I am just concerned for our safety and regretting the loss of social niceties.

The U News Center at the University of Utah published a study entitled "Drivers on Cell Phones Are as Bad as Drunks". An exaggeration of the dangers? Perhaps not.

The study's lead author, Psychology Professor David Strayer, notes: “Just like you put yourself and other people at risk when you drive drunk, you put yourself and others at risk when you use a cell phone and drive. The level of impairment is very similar.”

In the interest of full-disclosure, I must confess a penchant for cell-phone use while driving, but given the facts, am breaking that habit (with the occasional lapse).

Aside from all of the scary statistics and possible things that could go wrong, I simply miss the occasional courtesy wave from a fellow driver. Such friendly behavior can make us feel more connected. Isn't that what it's all about?
If you stop to let me merge into traffic, I promise you a courtesy wave and a smile.

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