Eyes on the Road

for the week of September 11, 2000
by Rubel Shelly

More than 6.5 million automobile accidents occur every year in the United States. Lots of factors account for these costly, injurious, and sometimes fatal events. Speeding, weather conditions, driving while intoxicated, mechanical failure all these are occasional causes. A recent nationwide study says that more than a quarter of all auto accidents result from driver distraction.

A research group analyzed data from Department of Transportation probes into traffic accidents. It found that simple distraction causes as many as 4,000 accidents every day and costs more than $40 billion every year. Incredible!

But what is even more astonishing are some of the things people admit to doing that led to their mishaps. One lady was eating a bowl of cereal behind the wheel in Washington state. Her sport-utility vehicle strayed onto the shoulder and then when she tried to regain control and overcompensated veered into oncoming traffic and killed a 53-year-old woman in her car.

The director of safety programs for the American Automobile Association said they've found things as bizarre as someone who was putting on makeup, fighting with a passenger in the car, drinking a cup of coffee, and talking on a cellphone all at the same time. Automobiles are powerful and dangerous things. People need to pay attention when in charge of them on our crowded highways. But it is easy and I speak from experience to be distracted.

The same thing is true of life, isn't it? We are on Planet Earth to honor God, treat one another with respect, and leave things better than we found them. But the trivia and annoyances of life sometimes take our eyes off the goal of loving God and one another. Fatal crackups happen on life's highway every day.

You have a responsibility to provide for yourself and your family. So work hard, educate your children, and take occasional breaks. Just don't forget the things that are important to eternity. "The thing you should want most is God's kingdom and doing what God wants," said Jesus. "Then all these other things you need will be given to you" (Matthew 6:33, New Century Version).

There's nothing wrong with a cup of coffee while you drive; just don't get preoccupied with it while merging into rush-hour traffic this afternoon. There's nothing wrong with lofty career ambitions and enjoying God's good gifts; just don't let them distract you from the things that will matter a million years from now.

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