The Vatican has issued "Ten Commandments" for motorists to help them avoid road rage, to make sure their vehicles are safe, and to ensure that they do not put other road users' lives at risk.
"Unbalanced behaviour varies according to individuals and circumstances, and may include impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility, or deliberate infringement of the Highway Code," says the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in a 19 June 2007 document entitled "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road".
"For some drivers, the unbalanced behaviour is expressed in insignificant ways, whilst in others it may produce serious excesses that depend on character, level of education, an incapacity for self-control and the lack of a sense of responsibility," the guidelines note.
The document also records that during the 20th century approximately 35 million people lost their lives in road accidents, whilst around one and a half billion were injured. In 2000, there were 1 260 000 road deaths, the guidelines explain, while about 90 per cent of accidents were due to human error.
The exercise of charity by drivers has a "dual" dimension, says the pontifical council: "The first regards looking after one's vehicle, which means making sure that it is safe from a technical point of view, so as not to knowingly put one's own or other people's lives at risk."
The second dimension is about the "love of travellers whose lives should not be endangered by incorrect and careless manoeuvres that may cause harm to both passengers and pedestrians".
Good drivers, the guidelines say, "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 Vatican's "Ten Commandments" for motorists are:
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 neighbour 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.
[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]