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An apology to the distracted driver I honked at the other day

Dear person in the Jeep in front of me:

We've never met. I don't know you. This may never change. I'm writing you because I want to apologize for honking at you the other morning. It was thoughtless; worse – it was cruel and unwarranted. I consider myself a well-mannered individual, one who treats his fellow human beings with courtesy and respect. I let myself down. I let you down. I let humanity down. For this, I am truly sorry.

You see, when I honked at you, after you sat motionless in your Jeep at the advance green light I had been waiting for, I had no idea that you were checking your mobile device. If you had merely been daydreaming and remained blissfully unaware the light had changed then I would have been justified in honking.

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In fact, I would have been justified in hurling a blizzard of profanity your way. The same could be said if you had been lost in conversation. After all, I missed the light.

But you were looking at your phone – perhaps checking a tweet or an e-mail.

What could be more important than that? That's right, nothing. And so I humbly say, "Sorry."

I shudder when I picture what may have transpired had you elected to not see that text for another five minutes. Can you imagine the chaos that would have ensued? Let's say your friend texted saying, "How r u?" and you didn't immediately (while waiting for an advance green) text back "Good, u?"

Your friend might become so enraged that he goes out, purchases a firearm and commits a murder/suicide. Many lives could be lost.

Or what if you didn't "like" that tweet right away? We already know that U.S. President Donald Trump has the nuclear codes; perhaps your not liking his tweet fast enough would be the last straw.

What if he becomes unhinged? That's right – the Third World War – Armageddon, the end of the world, all because you didn't like that tweet right away while driving.

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Distracted driving is rivalling drunk driving as a cause of traffic fatalities. A study just released by Washington State found one in nine drivers is distracted by the telephone and that fatalities owing to distracted driving rose 32 per cent from 2014 to 2015.

Last August, the Ontario Provincial Police announced that distracted-driving deaths were on track to double those caused by drunk driving.

To which I would reply: "And …"

I would say, "True, it may be a proven fact that distracted driving is killing people, that those who do it risk themselves and the lives of others, that it is an entirely preventable calamity. This may all be irrefutable fact, but do you have any idea how important the guy driving the Jeep in front of me is? He's got a text to read."

"Talk all you like about safety and logic," I would say. "I will gladly see a thousand souls perish and a hundred worlds collide than have the guy in front of me in the Jeep miss a single text or tweet.

As Cicero said, "What then is freedom? The power to live as one wishes."

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What is freedom but the right to jeopardize all around you in order to update your Instagram account?

So please accept my apologies. Sure, I missed the advance green and, after I alerted you to it by honking, you hurriedly made a left and then the light changed. To bastardize an iconic Bobby Brown lyric, "That's your prerogative. It's the way that you want to live."

Perhaps, we'll one day meet.

I'll look over on the highway and see you reading your Facebook update while doing 120 km/h. I'll give you the "thumbs up." And you'll see me, just for a moment, before you get back to the serious business of staying connected to your social network.

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About the Author
Road Sage columnist

Andrew Clark, an award-winning journalist, screenwriter and author, is Director of the Comedy Writing and Performance program at Humber College in Toronto. More

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