Traffic Laws in My Head
By Barrington H. Brennen, December 16, 2011
When you are
approaching a red traffic light, what compels you to stop? Is it
the color of the light itself or is it a moral or legal
decision? The light itself has no power to stop someone. The
light simply reminds us that stopping is wise. The light also
reminds us that there has to be traffic laws to prevent chaos
and even accidents. More importantly, the driver has to
internalize and personalize the reason and purpose for traffic
laws. The laws must become a part of his psyche, belief system
and behavior. When there are individuals who do not believe in
obeying the traffic laws or who are selectively disobedient in
apply certain laws when driving, we have confusion, accidents,
road rage, and sometimes death.
Although there are many obedient drivers on our streets, far too
many are disobedient, creating an appearance of a lawless
society. It is my view the disciplined, obedient driving of
residents is one of the signs of a civil society. If an
automobile collision occurs on a road in a civil society, it is
not the presence of the police on the scene of the accidents
that controls the drivers and prevents further chaos. It is an
internal control system of the drivers, located
between the two ears, that store a set of moral values and
beliefs which impact behavior, sensible choices and rational
thought. Too many drivers seem not to have an internal control
system or it is not working well. Disciplined drivers have
traffic laws stored in their heads and do not need the presence
of the symbol of the law, the police officer, to obey the laws.
Disciplined drivers police themselves.
Where does this lawless driving start? It does not start on the
streets. It starts in the home. It is my view that adults
who drive lawlessly have been influenced by a dysfunctional home
environment. First, where there is lack of structure in the
home—no bed or meal times, no television control, etc—it is more
likely that the children will not
understand the importance of internal discipline and
self-management. Second, when children observe that their
parents/significant others do not respect simple laws of the
road while driving—speed limits, traffic lights---these same
children grow up believing that it is not necessary to obey laws
of a country. In fact, they become a law unto themselves.
Children keenly observe what happens when there is an accident.
They would listen to the lies and
deceit to cover up the truth. They learn from a very young age
that maneuvering (gross inexactitude) to avoid a fine or jail
from breaking the law is more important than being obedient to
the law. They quickly learn that breaking the law is being
“smart.” What make matters worse is a disobedient driver
claiming that he or she has someone to help “get him off the
hook.” This might be an influential person in government or even
a police officer. This is one example how the cycle of
corruption continues in a country.
What is the use of surveillance cameras, traffic lights, speed
limits, pedestrian crossings, road markings, and speed bumps, if
very few drivers obey them? I often hear people say that we need
more police on our streets to prevent more traffic accidents or
to respond to the infringements of traffic laws. It is my view
that we do not need more policing by traffic cops. Instead we
need personal policing by every driver on the streets. We need
more drivers who have the traffic laws in their heads and are
not depending on or not needing the presence of police officers
to drive with discipline on the streets.
Unfortunately, lack of self-government is a serious flaw in far
too many residents of our county. Self-management,
self-discipline and integrity are greatly needed in our country.
Unfortunately these qualities of behavior cannot be bought at
Kelly’s, AID, Robin Hood, or John Bull. They cannot be picked up
at a garage sale at a low cost. They are only available in the
school of disciplined family living and can only be stored in
the hearts and minds of well-managed, disciplined residents. It
is my view that if we can get our parenting act together we will
have less traffic accident and less breaking of traffic laws.
Are the traffic laws in your head?
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send
your questions or comments to
firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 1242 327 1980 or