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Vatican issues ‘10 Commandments’ for drivers

Associated Press
VATICAN CITY – Got road rage? The Vatican on Tuesday issued a set of “Ten Commandments” for drivers, telling motorists to be charitable to others on the highways, to refrain from drinking and driving, and to pray you make it before you even buckle up.

An unusual document from the Vatican’s office for migrants and itinerant people also warned that automobiles can be “an occasion of sin” — particularly when they are used for dangerous passing or for prostitution.

It warned about the effects of road rage, saying driving can bring out “primitive” behavior in motorists, including “impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code.”

…Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, told a news conference that the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving had become such a big part of contemporary life.

…The document is intended for bishops conferences around the world, and as such offered recommendations for their pastoral workers, including setting up chapels along motorways and having “periodic celebration of liturgies at major road hubs, motorway restaurants and lorry parks.”

The “Drivers’ Ten Commandments,” as listed by the document, are:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.
(19 June 2007)
Despite the mocking tone of the article (and other coverage in the press), I think the Vatican is on to something important here: everyday actions like driving have a moral dimension which we tend to ignore. I would argue that the guidelines should go much farther than they do. There is no mention of carbon emissions or wasteful use of liquid fuels. Perhaps the original Vatican document goes into more depth. At some point, Catholic thinkers may re-discover the work of the former priest, the late Ivan Illich, who thought long and deeply about the impact of technology on society. See for example, Ivan Illich on Cars or Energy and Equity (online book).

Reactions by drivers in Los Angeles, “the city that worships the automobile”: Forgive me, Father, for I have tailgated (LA Times) -BA

Bill protecting cyclists passes

James Mayer, Portland Oregonian
Sharing roads – A recent death gives a push to a measure creating tougher penalties for careless drivers
SALEM — A careless driver who kills or seriously injures a cyclist or other “vulnerable” road user will face much stiffer penalties — up to a year’s license suspension and a $12,500 fine — under a bill that cleared the Oregon Legislature on Wednesday.

House Bill 3314 picked up speed after a 26-year-old Idaho woman with a suspended license struck and killed Washington County cyclist Tim O’Donnell as he signaled to make a left turn on a rural road earlier this month.

The cyclist’s widow, Mary O’Donnell, watched from the gallery as the Senate approved the bill earlier this week.

“I would rest easier if I knew that this senseless tragedy could bring some good,” she wrote in a letter placed on each lawmaker’s desk.

The crash, and the news that the driver faces nothing more serious than a $1,115 fine, sparked outrage beyond the cycling community. Newspapers published angry editorials, and voters contacted their legislators.

The House took final action on the bill Wednesday, approving Senate amendments. The bill now goes to the governor.

The bill provides that when careless driving results in injury or death of a vulnerable user, which includes cyclists, pedestrians, highway workers, horse riders, skateboarders and roller skaters, the driver would face a one-year license suspension and a maximum $12,500 fine. These penalties would not be imposed if the driver completes a traffic safety course and between 100 and 200 hours of community service.

The driver would have to appear in court, not just write a check, said Scott Bricker, lobbyist for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, the Portland-based organization that has been effective in shepherding a package of bike proposals through the Legislature this session.
(21 June 2007)

Cheap fuel a sham

Kate Adamson, Herald Sun
MOTORISTS are being short-changed by supermarket fuel discount schemes, according to Victoria’s motoring bodies.

And fuel prices may rise to $2 a litre within 18 months if the supermarkets continued to boost prices to cover the scheme, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce said.
“As they push independents out of the market, they will charge whatever they want,” VACC spokesman David Purchase said.

The schemes by Coles and Woolworths, which owns Safeway, give motorists a 4c a litre discount on fuel in exchange for supermarket dockets.
But they do not equal a saving, the RACV and the VACC said.

Motorists were forced to pay for the discount as Coles and Woolworths, which have more than 60 per cent control of service stations nationally, were raising grocery and fuel prices to cover the costs, they said.
(17 June 2007)