Driving on Interstate 35 between Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth is like navigating an obstacle course of construction, heavy traffic, and frequent crashes. It can be a tense, mind-numbing task.
This week I tried an experiment. I set my cruise control on the speed limit and gave my right foot a rest. The speed limit between Austin and the Metroplex varies from 60 to 75 and changes quite often, so it requires multiple resettings of the cruise.
You will not be surprised by what I experienced by driving the fastest speed allowed by law. The vast majority of cars zoomed by on my left. Some crowded right up behind as if they wanted to push me along. But I did pass a few — very few.
The point: The vast majority of Texans are serious lawbreakers. And this isn’t just a matter of breaking some seemingly minor ordinance; this is about hurling a heavy block of metal and plastic down a highway at a speed that will kill if anything unexpected happens. It’s almost as if most Texas drivers could be charged with attempted manslaughter because of how they drive.
Let me be clear. I’m often guilty, as well. When it comes to acceptable societal norms in relation to driving a car or truck, we have come to expect people to break the law unless law enforcement is watching.
I told a college group once that your character is reflected in how you behave when you think noone is watching. There was an audible chorus of snickers and gasps when I said it.
Our driving habits tell us something about our character. If the police or highway patrol are not watching, then we pretty much ignore the law. But many of us speeding-law breakers are quick to condemn others for breaking other laws that we like enforced. It’s simply inconsistent.
You would think Christians would be pretty good at living within the limits of the law since we are supposed to love our neighbor (and therefore fellow drivers) as much as ourselves, but we are not. Drivers sporting crosses or fish on their bumpers are just as likely to speed than the pagans and unidentified on the road.
Some laws are unjust and need to be changed. Our speeding laws are not; they are a means of seeking to make our roads safe for everyone.
I’m writing this for four reasons:
First, if I get killed by someone driving up my rear, you will know that I was just trying to abide by the law and be safe with my vehicle — that I valued others on the road as much as myself.
Second, I would like to encourage all of us to think about our cavaliere attitudes about laws that are designed to make this a good and safe place to live, but which we violate on a regular basis.
Third, until we stop speeding we shouldn’t be complaining about others breaking different laws.
Fourth, let’s be encouraged to abide by the law and seek to change those that are unjust.
By the way, driving the speed limit on I-35 is a whole lot less stressful than fast driving. As a result, everyone is safer as they drive and happier when they arrive. Honk as you pass me, and I will wave. And if you see me pass you, say a prayer because you will know my character is not having one of its better days.
(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists website.)