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In an appeal to the college undergraduates of the Commonwealth for safe and sane driving on the roads, Governor Hurley issued a statement last week that sounded off once again the everpresent need for careful automobiling. The demand which the Governor made, namely that the youth of the community realize the responsibilities they assume the minute they sit down at the wheel, is an eminently practical one, especially in view of the terrific toll that automobiles take each year on our population.
Principal causes for accidents among students seem to arise from the driver's failure to size up situations carefully enough. There is a tremendous temptation, as everyone who has put his foot on the accelerator of a modern high-powered car is aware, to get everything possible out of one's vehicle in the way of speed, and, within limits, this does not seem to be bad. Police regulations to the contrary, the difference between fifty and sixty on the open road in daylight cannot be regarded as serious, and when students are picked up for clocking sixty under circumstances that clearly warrant a fast clip, it is only the respect for the law that suffers.
However, at night, or when one is fatigued at the end of a long drive, or along crowded highways, or in urban districts where pedestrians are likely to jump out at cars, little mindful of the dangers they are incurring, then is the time for all drivers to use every ounce of precaution. And it is often part of the make-up of youth not to slow up at such times. These are the times when good judgment is required, judgment to size up one's own physical disabilities--slower mental reactions resulting from fatigue, for instance,--and judgment to size up the requirements of the district in which one is travelling. And the tragedy that descends like lightning is that every so often a lapse of judgment results in injury or loss of life.
While Governor Hurley is right in calling on college students for safe driving, however, there is one request for which college students can call on him. That is courtesy and respect from police. All too often, when a student is stopped by a policeman, the constabulary takes a hostile attitude on the assumption that the college boy is a "kid who can afford to pay." Such a frame of mind can only lead to resentment from the student, who goes through with his brush with the law determined to "get away with it" next time, rather than cooperate for the benefit of the whole community. Students should be arrested for violations, just like anybody else, but the law's effort should be to get them to do better next time.
Yet in essence the appeal of the Governor is such as should be made by every enlightened chief executive from time to time. And a rule which the sister state of Cinnecticut plasters on the windshields of every car might be taken as the best note for the appeal: "Drive so that your car is always under control."
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