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Austin's driving habits are unhealthy!

Drivers Education: Reboot

Photo of Barbara J Horowitz
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When I arrived in Austin from Washington DC 16 years ago, Austin was--in comparison--a small, sleepy, easy-to-get around town. I soaked up the friendly, courteous nature of residents and drivers: drivers-by in my new neighborhood waving at me as I waited at a crosswalk with my dog at the time, Groovy; had I met them, did I know them? No, it was just a friendly morning/evening wave. Drivers kindly letting you merge onto Mopac, or casually allowing you to change lanes--imagine that! Or that sometimes funny/sometimes awkward moment as everyone arrives at a traffic circle at the same time: you go, no you go, no I’ll wait you go. Sound familiar from days gone by? But these days, as my time on Austin roadways has expanded, distances widened and time frames stretched, my exposure (day and night) to rude, careless, tailgaiting drivers has exponentially increased. I’ve tried to justify their bad habits—I wonder: are you ill? Is a family member in the hospital? Did you just get bad news? But my Zen approach is quickly fading. These habits are disappointing, dangerous and, as I find myself fuming and yelling at thoughtless, entitled, selfish drivers, increasingly unhealthy for everyone. There has to be a way to educate, instill and encourage safe, considerate driving habits as Austin tries to tackle its mobility challenges.

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