This week went from fall to winter in record time! With this, we decided to do a vlog on car care tips for the cold weather with Derrick Smith, another member of the NeighborLink Team.
Pairing with the vlog for this week, I wanted to blog about how this bad weather caused me to reflect on driving, particularly about how it is both a responsibility and a privilege. It is a privilege because it allows one the means to move about freely, but it is a responsibility because it requires careful maintenance and operation of heavy machinery around pedestrians and other cars under constantly changing conditions. It is honestly a bit insane that we all regularly get inside heavy metal machines and move them rapidly through space amongst a multitude of other independently moving heavy metal machines, as if it is completely natural.
The sudden winter weather challenged all of us to be more cautious and prudent, but some didn’t accept that challenge and nearly 100 accidents were reported on Monday night alone(1). Later on this week another accident happened, a hit and run, where the driver struck a woman in a wheelchair and her fiance(2). It is easy to think that accidents will never impact us, but unless we drive carefully, properly care for our car and respond to the drivers around us, we could end up in an accident or causing an accident. Driving requires our entire attention because it is an inherently serious activity: we are all effectively operating battering rams. With this in mind, and especially since the weather can be so dangerous already, we must do our best to minimize our distractions whether it be texting, eating, putting on makeup, etc. Choosing just to put my phone outside of my reach has helped me realize my dependence on it and how freeing it is to not respond to people immediately.
Beyond just the responsibility of driving, it is also an immense privilege. This bad weather makes me think of all those who have to navigate Fort Wayne without a car, whether trudging through snow, shivering at bus stops or paying for rides. Having a car is a privilege that some people never get to experience. Some of my friends are blind, or have epilepsy, or have debilitating anxiety, or cannot afford the upkeep and insurance for a car. Some never had families that were stable enough to allow them time to get their driver's license or even learn to drive. Because our region doesn’t have the population density to warrant extensive public transit, those who can’t drive are often unable to move about freely, and it can be a serious impediment to getting and maintaining a job. Even arranging rides to the grocery store or doctor’s appointments can be difficult.
For those of us who can drive, it also means we can serve in a myriad of ways. One of the projects that people rarely associate with NeighborLink is transportation. But frequently people will turn to us for help when they can’t get where they need to go. This is a perfect service opportunity for those who feel unequal to more skilled service requests like window replacement or foundation repair. For those of us who drive, giving someone else a ride isn’t a big deal, but for those who can’t drive, getting a ride can make a huge difference. Often those who choose to volunteer as drivers realize that they aren’t even going far off their normal routes. There are neighbors in need all around us.
So, as the weather turns chilly and the holidays approach, please drive responsibly and kindly. If your schedule permits, consider taking a transportation request - it is just one of many ways we can love our neighbors.