During the past few months, a number of drivers who were responsible for traffic accidents have been sentenced to harsh prison terms. And maybe some newspaper readers wondered about it or - depending on their attitude - secretly even regretted the convicts. But wrongly. Because what we are dealing with here is only the German form of a struggle that has been carried out tenaciously and purposefully in other countries for a long time and that has been put under the slogan “Safety first!” On American soil.
That transgressive sins are sins against the spirit of the community, this insight should and must gradually prevail among us. And it is precisely the car driver, who has so often got used to being the absolute master of the country road, that it is necessary to stress that pedestrians and cyclists are also human beings after all.
As judicial knowledge teaches, it is particularly strict with the leaders of auto-buses, and that too has its weighty reasons.
The more people are directly entrusted to the driver of a vehicle, the greater is obviously his responsibility. And the driver of a coach almost equals in this respect the leader of a small state, which has to put all his powers and abilities fully in the service of his country, without, in the German view, at least thinking of the satisfaction of personal ambition.
He must not wish to win or beat records, he must not be anxious to match other wagons equipped with a more powerful engine at all costs, he must not recklessly overtake and thereby bring about the danger of a collision with his incalculable consequences and certainly not the disregard the traffic and warning signs valid for the general public, - in the foolish delusion that a carriage as big as his own has the prerogative everywhere. But precisely because the car he drives is larger than others and counts more inmates than the latter, he has to be twice as careful if he does not want to be guilty of a mass accident.
In some ways he is no doubt worse off than the leaders of more agile fellows. Some roads, especially in smaller towns, are still extremely narrow today, and it takes a lot of skill to steer through a moderately extensive bus without any impetus from them. And it is precisely at such dangerous places that one sees the drivers often set a pace that can make them fearful of mere sight.
The situation is similar, however, with the unclear sections of the roadway, which are unfortunately not uncommon in the existing road system. Anyone who only tries to “catch up” on them and possibly improve the timetable by a few minutes is acting almost unscrupulous and should have been a bus driver for the longest time.
For the most part, the inmates of the bus do not notice at all when playing with their lives and their health in such a way. Or if they notice, they are probably even deluded enough to keep their leader on the spur, indeed to reinforce him in his negligent and frivolous way of acting, be it that they are in such a particular hurry, let it be that they are simply from who are obsessed with what one has correctly called the car sky. And such passengers, albeit to a lesser extent, face the same reproach as him: the reproach of lack of conscientiousness.
Significantly, however, these very courageous people are the first to strive to shift the blame for the driver when a misfortune has happened. The court hearings testify to this with a most unpleasant regularity. For it is astonishing how many then suddenly foresaw the sad end and vainly raised their warning voice.
More sense of responsibility! You can always repeat it. And: exercise more caution than forbearance demand!
Safety precondition! This motto truly deserves to be imprinted on every occasion, even for our motorists - and not just the bus drivers who are most affected. The tremendous upswing taken by the car traffic thanks to the Government's caring work practices makes for a tight driving discipline, making caution and careful observance of the traffic rules imperative, not to mention mere respect for the compatriot.
Our German people have become exemplary for the world in so many ways. Should it not be possible to achieve that on the area of the road system so infinitely significant for the present, it could once be called Germany in the world ?!
1935, 17 · Franz Krämer