Leave a Car-Length: Responsibility, Suffering, and Traffic

James Walpole/ February 15, 2020

Driving in Atlanta tends to make you conscious of traffic and the ways that it can go wrong.

In slow or stopped traffic it’s generally a good idea to leave a car-length of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If not, you’ll find it’s very easy to get into a traffic accident involving five cars.

Someone behind you gets hit. They didn’t leave enough space, so they hit someone in front of them. That person didn’t leave enough space, so they hit someone else, who hits you. Your car bumps forward into the car ahead. It’s a mess.

The thing about traffic is that you can’t control what’s behind you. If someone is going to tailgate you so close that a little bump can cause a fender-bender, you can’t really help it much.

The only thing you can control is the distance in front of your vehicle. By leaving a car-length (or two), you can prevent a bad accident from becoming a comic disaster involving a bunch of people.

There’s a moral here.

You can’t much control what other people are going to do. Sure, you can take some precautions to avoid their stupid and destructive behaviors. But if you get boxed in with some tailgater, you get boxed in. You’ll have to live with the possibility of getting smashed and suffering.

You may be doomed to suffer. But you can always control your own actions in such a way that other people don’t have to suffer in the same way – or at least don’t have to suffer because of you.

This is a worthy goal.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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