We all hear the nasty comments, see them written on the internet and videos on you tube, we even have a bumper sticker that has been printed in our honor, "pray for me, I drive in Lakewood".
I recently got a call from Avi Solomon. He wanted to know what I thought about having a driving safety asifa (gathering).
What are the actual detrimental effects that careless, aggressive drivers have on our town?
Endangering people's lives and property damage become an everyday issue. People spend their days trying to avoid dangerous intersections where they assume they will encounter aggressive drivers.
But besides the obvious problems, aggressive driving causes so many more.
First and foremost is the Chillul Hashem(bad example) that is caused when we drive in an inconsiderate manner. Most of us would never consider pushing our way into an open door while brushing aside someone crossing the threshold. We wouldn't scream at an older person that was walking slowly down an aisle at the supermarket or run down an escalator knocking down all the other riders. But for some reason in the secluded cabin of our vehicle we feel at one with our machine. We lose our humanity and all bets are off.
Unfortunately the person we cut off, the pedestrian we swerve to avoid as they cross, the slower driver we curse at and honk, can see all too well who we are.
The same laws apply, and we will pay the price for our lack of patience. Instead of being a shining example to others we have become a regional joke. " don't drive through Lakewood if you don't want your car to get hit", "I would rather go on the parkway and avoid those crazy drivers", are statement heard all too often. Why are you people always in a rush?", "where did your people learn how to drive?", are questions that most of us have a hard time answering. Explaining it away with an excuse that it "isn't a Jewish thing, it is a New York mentality" doesn't really cut it anymore.
Local Lakewood businesses which we have been trying to promote to people outside of our area suffer immensely from the reputation we have received as careless drivers. I have heard from many customers outside of Lakewood that nobody wants to shop in the downtown district or even go to many of our strip malls out of fear. We have many excellent businesses in Lakewood that we can be proud of. They could grow and help improve the image of our town, create jobs, and bring money into our community, but many customers have said it is just not worth the hassle.
The rumor that people avoid Lakewood because of aggressive drivers is unfortunately all too real and we all pay the price.
So yes Avi, perhaps an Asifa is in order. Do you think Citifield is booked this Sunday?