Carol and I enjoy traveling. We drive the speed limit, observe traffic rules and cautions, and watch out for hazards. Watching out for hazards is sometimes nerve-wracking because there are many kinds of them.
Potholes and broken sections of pavement which can destroy tires account for most of our hazards. I’ve seen one accident that was caused by a driver who swerved to miss a big hole but hit another car.
Another hazard that drivers sometimes face in the deserts of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona, are sandstorms. We didn’t encounter those storms on this trip, but four years ago we got caught. The sand was blowing at 40 mph and was so thick that I couldn’t see more than 20 feet in front of me. When that storm was over, the windshield needed to be replaced.
Yet other hazards crop up: animals on the roadway. Rabbits, racoons, squirrels, and other small game just get squashed, and it’s over. Dogs, deer, coyotes, and the like can present more of a challenge, but elk, cattle, and horses can prove to be fatal – for man and beast.
Another hazard we’ve seen – but haven’t been affected by – are downed trees across the roads. Nature has been acting up lately and high winds have been howling through the forests. About a mile from where we are staying, a large tree fell across the road after midnight. It was still dark, and by the time a tired driver saw the tree, he didn’t have time to hit the brake. It took over two hours for the ambulance crew to remove the body, and the highway department to remove the wreck and the tree.
But of all the hazards we face on the highways, one stands out like a sore thumb. It is a high-speed hazard called a Motorcycle!
All over the United States we see signs reminding us about them. “Be courteous: share the road.” “Watch out for motorcycles.” “Save a life.” “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” And others.
But the more ominous problem is that many of the motorcyclists are not watching out for themselves! I hear the complaints from many RVers across the country. At medium to high speeds, motorcyclists disobey traffic rules. At high speeds, they weave in-n-out of traffic and zip past us between the lanes. The interstate freeway speed limit may be 70mph, and we may be going 65mph while most cars buzz past us doing 70-80. But many cyclists shoot past us doing 80-90 or higher!
When I want to change lanes, I turn on my signal, check my side mirrors, rear-view mirror (if I’m not pulling a trailer), and ask Carol if the way is clear. When I hear and see that all is clear, I pull over. But several times as I was about to change lanes, a motorcycle zoomed out of the distance at over 100 mph ignoring my turn signal. I would’ve been hit if I completed the lane-change, and the cyclist probably would have been dead. Complicating the problem is: if we collided, the default verdict would normally be against the driver of the car.
On one of our trips, we were driving 45 mph east on I-8 up Mission Valley in San Diego. The traffic was heavy. A motorcycle passed me at high speed on the inside shoulder between the concrete highway dividers and my car. I told Carol, “I hope he doesn’t kill himself.”
About ten minutes later, traffic came to a crawl as the two left lanes began merging into the two right lanes. We eventually passed a damaged car, the mangled bike, and the rider’s broken body. The ambulance had not yet arrived.
There are many hazards on the highways and byways that we watch out for. But we must make sure that we don’t become the hazard.
Do you know that living according to Biblical principles can make our life safer? In Romans 13:1-5, Paul teaches us about obeying those in authority over us. That would include obeying speed limits, wouldn’t it? It includes being courteous drivers and giving others room to enter our lane without crowding them. And according to the principle in Matthew 25:40, if we show kindness to other drivers, we are showing kindness to Jesus.
We also should pray before we get out on the road. God can warn us of danger, remind us to be safe, and can protect us from unsafe drivers.