Character and Driving Behaviors
I got a letter from a dad regarding his teenage son with ADHD. His son likes to speed and has been in trouble a lot for traffic violations. I wrote him back with these thoughts, but the dad didn't like them. See what yo think. There are some minor editions to hide some details, but the concept is intact.
I'm not familiar with anyone doing research in this particular area, ie developing strategies for young adults to drive more carefully. I know that it is an area of great concern for many parents, so it would be nice to see. But here, for what it's worth, is my thought: speeding is voluntary. Speeding is an act of the will. People, even impulsive people, choose to enter a vehicle and to exceed the speed limit. When someone exceeds the speed limit they increase the probability that they will be involved in an accident that will injure an innocent party, perhaps a child - perhaps MY child.
Ultimately repeated speeding is selfish, and irresponsible. It shows a lack of concern or care for the safety and welfare of others, including children. Your son has to confront this issue in his life. Does he truly want to be so self-centered? I hope not.
Driving carefully is also a choice, an act of the will. Even impulsive people can make the decision to drive under the speed limit and in a focused and careful manner. This will decrease the probability that they will be involved in an accident that might injure innocent people. Deciding to drive in a careful manner is an act of responsibility, and shows that one values and cares about other people as well as himself.
Each of us gets to define our own character. We may not get to define our reputations (how others see us), but we do get to define, and then develop, our own character. To a great extent our character is shaped and defined by the things that we do, and by the things that we either fail to do, or decide on purpose not to do. Our character is revealed in the choices that we make, especially when no one is watching us.
I would ask your (child), now (a young adult), to consider what type of a (person) he/she wants to be. Would he/she like to be a self-centered (person) who doesn't really care about the welfare of others? Or would he/she like to be a (person) of integrity and honor, who cares for, and perhaps would even sacrifice for others?
Then, based on that choice, based on the choice of what kind of a person he/she would like to be, he/she can make other choices in life, including decisions about how to operate his/her motor vehicle in public.
I truly hope that your (young adult child) will choose wisely. Please give him/her my kindest regards.
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D.
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