Driving around St. Joseph seems to be a life-and-death decision at times. It’s not just a personal observation but one experienced by many other people.
Everyone around here has tales of people running red lights and stop signs or being confronted by angry, out-of-control drivers.
I’ve personally had more than a few encounters that would make your head spin.
A few months ago while driving Downtown on Felix Street a young man, no doubt in an attempt to try and impress his girlfriend, walked out in front of my moving vehicle and dared me to hit him. A warped sense of bravery.
A few months before that, I was at a gas station when the young man in the car in front of me, instead of pulling to the farthest pump, stopped at the first one, forcing me to drive around him. That I shook my head when driving past was enough of an insult for him to threaten to beat me up. A girlfriend was present in this scenario as well.
Both idiots weren’t aware they were in a losing situation. If you beat me up, what manly pride would you gain? I’m a 60-something-year-old man. If I beat you up instead, what pride is in that?
Those are extremes, of course, but more often than not I have to pause at every intersection whether I have the stop sign or not. Stop signs and red lights mean little to folks it seems.
When you honk at these folks, they look at you as if you’re the wrongdoing idiot. It’s as if where you’re going is more important than anyone’s safety in getting there. I’m sure there are no emergencies here other than needing a six-pack or some cigarettes.
In 2020, national statistics show that 928 people were killed in crashes that involved red light running.
In all these instances, the general wisdom says to remain calm and forever vigilant. Don’t take risks and give others plenty of space.
Is bad driving another symptom of the dumbing down of Americans? Are we becoming less intelligent and civil?
Researchers use what is called the “Flynn Effect” in determining the increase or decrease in intelligence over generations. What they’ve found is that the increase in intelligence appears to be stagnating or even reversing in the United States as well as in parts of Europe. This information was gleaned from researchers examining a database of more than 400,000 Americans.
They found that cognitive ability scores decreased in several domains related to reasoning while increasing in visuospatial skills.
The researchers noted that prior gains in intelligence were likely due to increases in nutrition, access to education and familiarity with tests. However, at a certain point these gains plateau.
They concluded society now places more value on visuospatial skills rather than on various forms of reasoning skills. The rise in the use of smartphones and social media may also play a role. People lose the ability to relate to real-life people and scenarios.
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