Sunday, February 19, 2006


Right on the heels of the last post...

I do think it important to meditate on God's Law. I was doing that on the way back from evening worship (I love evening worship!), and discovered something: good driving keeps the Sixth Commandment; bad driving breaks it. Here is that treasure-trove on the Ten Commandments, the Larger Catechism:

Q. 135. What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?

A. The duties required in the sixth commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent.

Q. 136 What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

It's pretty clear, isn't it? Bad driving is dangerous, and tends to the unjust taking away of life.

So how do you know if you're a bad driver? Well, I'll tell you what a good driver is. A good driver follows the Smith System. The Smith System has five keys of good driving:

1. Aim high in steering - avoid collisions by seeing, evaluating and acting upon all the information available.

2. Get the big picture - Fewer mistakes are made when you have the complete traffic picture.

3. Keep your eyes moving - Proper scanning techniques separate safe drivers from people who make costly and daily errors.

4. Leave yourself an out - All that separates drivers from a collision is space. Use it to your advantage.

5. Make sure they see you - Seek eye contact and use your warning devices at the proper time.

Among the most common mistakes I see:

1. TAILGATING!!! This is definitely the worst. Which of the above keys does this violate?

2. Cutting people off when changing into a different lane. Again, which keys get trashed?

3. Speeding. You get the drift of my question, I hope. What if you're following someone who is going the speed limit? I claim you should not be impatient with them; they are trying to obey the law. Would you have them break it, just for you?

4. Not signaling for lane changes. Instead of driving in such a way that others can figure out what you're going to do next, make it obvious.

5. Not scanning. I am a bus driver, and also a bus trainer; I train people on the fixed bus routes for Blacksburg Transit. The most important thing for a bus driver is to scan. Scan, scan, scan. That means looking ahead 15 seconds to see what's coming, looking just ahead to the right and left, checking your speed, and checking your mirrors. It's very important that you know what's going on behind you. For example, what do you do if someone is tailgating you? Speed up? No. You increase your following distance. Generally, the rule I've heard nowadays is this: four seconds following distance normally, plus two seconds for every hazard. A hazard would be: night-time, slippery roads, tailgater, etc. You might object, saying, "If I follow that far behind, someone is sure to cut me off, I'll have to slow down, and I'll take a lot longer to get where I'm going." This is incorrect; you will have to slow down a little. However, the amount of time you lose will be seconds, not minutes. Even supposing it happened ten times in one trip (highly unlikely for a short trip), you might lose a whole minute. It's not worth it. The goal is to get there.

Finally, in conjunction with my last post, I have to say I don't follow these instructions the way I should. I need to focus on my shortcomings. But if you, dear readers, are convicted to follow God's law better, because you have been saved already, and not to save yourself, then God will have done some good through me.

In Christ.

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At 2/20/2006 11:14:00 AM , Blogger Susan said...

Hmmm. Interesting. I never placed bad driving with the 6th commandment, though it fits well. Amazing the way all the commandments are intertwined. Well, the Larger Catechism has a thorough enough dissection of the 6th commandment to convict me of many other areas, if not bad driving. I'm rather cautious by nature, so in general I am a safe driver. That just means I feel a twinge from other parts of your Larger Catechism quote, though, so certainly I have nothing of which to boast. It certainly doesn't leave a stone unturned. . .

I am very guilty of not placing value on others as I should, for example. charitable thoughts, love, compassion. . . Yep, that would be an area for me to focus. I once heard that murder is wrong in God's eyes because it mars or destroys His image that He has implanted in others. Using this definition, it is evident why Jesus said that hate = murder. Incidentally, I still remember your correction of my own definition of murder in a discussion of abortion on Crystal's blog. . . :)

I must admit that bad driving is one of my pet peeves. That may come from living in Metro Atlanta. . .

Ah, yes, my dear hometown, Atlanta. We're proud to boast of 9th place in traffic congestion nationwide, and we host 3 of the top 24 bottleneck intersections in the nation. . . *nostalgic sigh*

My psychology professor's advice on good driving was to play out scenarios in your mind to rehearse what to do if certain things happened, like if a car cuts right in front of you (which goes back to your "leave yourself an out") or the like. I think the most important thing is just to stay focused. I've been guilty of less-than-acute senses while driving in the past, but have thankfully never suffered from it.

At 2/21/2006 10:07:00 AM , Anonymous Chris Hutchinson said...

This ia an excellent example of a proper way to apply a Christian World and Life view very specifically -- with room for Christian freedom, such as speeding (safely) to the Emergency Room or some such.

Christians should aim to be safe drivers. To be otherwise, as you put it so well, is blatently antinomian.

Very helpful.

Chris Hutchinson


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