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Vatican Rules of the Road

Ten Commandments of Driving

Vatican:  "The most important thing to keep in mind is that the Church is committed to raising awareness and regaining a sense of responsibility in those who use the road. To decrease traffic accidents, the contribution of the Christian community is necessary. But in addition to the Church, schools, families and institutions must also work to further this cause and work to create respect for applicable laws."

I. You shall not kill

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

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

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

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

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

VII. Support the families of accident victims

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

IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party

X. Feel responsible towards others

Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travellers: 

Road and rail transport are a good thing as well as being indispensable requirements of contemporary life. It is of fundamental importance that the driver behaves responsibly and with self-control when he drives. 

Cardinal Martino points out the psychology of some drivers with "domination instincts" who see road signs as limitations: 

When driving a car some people start up the engine to join a race in order to escape from the troubling pace of everyday life. The pleasure of driving becomes a way of enjoying the freedom and independence that normally we do not have. The free availability of speed, being able to accelerate at will, setting out to conquer time and space, overtaking, and almost subjugating other drivers turn into sources of satisfaction that derive from domination.  Cars tend to bring out the primitive side of human beings.

Although risks are involved, the Vatican states that an appropriate outlet for domination instincts are the "practice of road sports: Cycling, motorcycling and motor racing in a healthy spirit of competition."

Vatican on cars and egos: 

Cars particularly lend themselves to being used by their owners to show off and as a means of outshining other people and arousing a feeling of envy.  People thus identify with their cars and project their egos onto them. When we praise our cars we are, in fact, praising ourselves because they belong to us; and, above all, we drive them.  Many motorists, including the not so young, boast with great pleasure of records broken and high speeds achieved, and it is easy to see that they cannot stand being considered as bad drivers even though they may acknowledge that they are.

The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers lists four virtues to apply when driving:





Vatican's Rules of the Road are based on the Fifth and Seventh Commandments, Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not steal:  "This means that, beyond the prohibition of directly killing, wounding or maiming, the Lord's commandments forbid any act that might bring about such harm indirectly. The same goes for any damage caused to one's neighbor's goods."

The road shall be a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm

Cars shall not be an expression of power and domination and an occasion of sin.  Cardinal Martino said an occasion of sin might be aggressively passing someone on the road.  Other occasions of sin are:  Being physically or mentally incapacitated, being under the influence of alcohol, stimulants, or other drugs, or being in a state of exhaustion or sleepiness.

Drivers on the road should be fully aware, without dreading such a situation, that an accident may occur at any time.

Good drivers courteously give way to pedestrians, are not offended when overtaken, allow someone who wishes to drive faster to pass, and do not seek revenge.

The duty to have vehicles serviced should be respected.  Taking care of one's vehicle also means not expecting more from it than it is able to give.

Driving means coexisting

Driving means controlling oneself

Unbalanced behavior includes impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility, or deliberate infringement of the highway code

When drivers endanger their own and other people's lives and the physical and mental well being of persons as well as considerable material goods, they are guilty of a serious shortcoming even when such behavior does not cause accidents

Drivers cannot just rely on the rules of the road but should rather maintain an appropriate margin of safety if they wish to be free of carelessness and avoid unforeseeable difficulties

Road users should not drive too fast and should calculate a wide margin of time which is theoretically and psychologically necessary to brake.  They should not overestimate their own abilities and quickness and should constantly monitor their attention and conversation.  In this regard, travelling companions should also be aware of their responsibility.

Road users should provide reparations for any damage caused to others

Moral law prohibits refusing assistance to a person in danger

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

Hope is a virtue that should characterize drivers and travellers. Indeed, whoever undertakes a journey always sets out with the hope of arriving safely at their destination to carry out business, enjoy the countryside, visit famous or nostalgic places, or return to the embrace of loved ones.  For believers, the reason for such hope, whilst taking account of the problems and dangers of the road, lies in the certainty that, in our journey towards a goal, God accompanies us and keeps us from danger. Due to God's company, and thanks to the collaboration of other people, we reach our destination.

The Catholic Church regards as Protectors of Travellers:  Saint Christopher, the Guardian Angel, and the Archangel Raphael and the importance of the Sign of the Cross to be made before setting out on a journey.  With this Sign we put ourselves directly under the protection of the Holy Trinity. The Church encourages praying as we journey particularly while passing spiritually strategic places, such as shrines, churches, and chapels.

It is quite common when accidents occur to blame the state of the road surface, a mechanical problem or environmental conditions. However, it should be underlined that the vast majority of car accidents are the result of serious and unwarranted carelessness, if not downright stupid and arrogant behavior by drivers or pedestrians, and are therefore due to the human factor.

The Church wishes to arouse a renewed awareness of obligations concerning the pastoral care of the road

Belgian bishops urge drivers to show:

Proof of courtesy and charity by giving way with an understanding attitude to the awkward maneuvers of learner drivers, paying attention to the elderly, children, cyclists and pedestrians, and controlling themselves in the case of infractions committed by other people. Christian solidarity encourages all road users to exercise greater sensitivity and to help the injured and the elderly with particular care given to children and the disabled. And attention to the body should also be accompanied by spiritual assistance which is no less urgent in many cases.

Stuck in traffic?  Placed on hold?  Maybe God is calling you to prayer says Sheila Garcia, Associate Director of the U. S. Bishopsí Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.

What is Pope Benedict XVI's favorite automobile?  Jeep




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