We all know, and definitely hate, the distractions that too many drivers indulge in while behind the wheel, even if we, ourselves, may be guilty at times. The usual suspects in the distracted driving column fall into the categories of texting, talking on the cell phone, playing with the audio/visual devices or trying to follow the navigation directions. Some of the lesser used but equally annoying distractions are those people who have been seen shaving, applying make-up or (yes, I've seen this with my own eyes) typing on their laptop while it's propped up on the dash board!
I'm not going to waste any more space on those well known, ubiquitous dangers. I would like to address yet another driving distraction that is, apparently, tolerated and even encouraged in our society.
How many times have you seen someone on the highway, at the medial strip or standing in the street at the red light with a cup in their hand or a boot or a coffee can or - whatever - expecting a donation for their favorite cause - whether that cause is a charity, a social organization or simply their own personal next meal?
Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of supporting charity - I have several personal favorites. I also believe society has a responsibility for the homeless and indigent among us.
What I don't believe is that every driver should be accosted daily by people begging for handouts.
Driving requires a high level of concentration. The driving environment provides enough distractions on the road without throwing panhandlers into the mix. Just because we can attract attention to our own personal plight or charitable endeavor by getting in the face of every driver captured at the red light doesn't mean we should.
Streets and highways should be free and clear of anything that doesn't pertain to safe driving. It is more than enough that we must be alert for road construction, crazy drivers and the occasional wild (or tame) animal that might dart in front of us. We should not have to bob and weave to escape the flower huckster, the sorority sister out to cure the world of disease or the next homeless soul who thinks tugging at our heart strings will fix their problems.