BEHIND THE FRONT PAGE: Good Samaritans in 2021?

s it harder to be the “Good Samaritan” these days than it was when the story was first told about 2,000 years ago?

If you remember your Sunday School stories, you likely remember the story of the Good Samaritan. It started with a man laying half dead on the side of the road. Do you remember how he got there? In the parable told by Jesus, the man had been jumped by robbers who stole his clothes and beat him. We lament the crimes of today, sometimes forgetting that they’ve been around for a few thousand years. Anyway, the parable continues with two men passing by the injured man without helping, but a third person does stop and lend aid. recently commissioned a survey of 2,500 drivers to see how many of them would be “Good Samaritans” if they came across a stranded motorist on a deserted highway.

Almost half (44 percent) said they would not stop, fearing for their own safety. I take this as good news, however, in that more than half (56 percent) would stop and it also shows an improvement from the 33 percent who stopped in the data Jesus provided. Perhaps there is hope for mankind yet.

About 59 percent of female drivers said they would not stop, and that is understandable. I don’t watch a lot of horror movies these days, but I’ve seen enough to get the gist of why it might be a little scary to stop for a stranded motorist.

I’m not sure why, but if you’re driving in Massachusetts and break down on a lonely highway, you might have to wait longer for someone to stop. Drivers there provided a nation-low response of 40 percent when asked if they would stop to help. Conversely, drivers in Wyoming are the most likely to stop (76 percent). The problem is if you’re on a deserted highway in Wyoming, it might be a couple days before another car comes along—and then you better hope it’s not someone in the other 24 percent.

A total of 59 percent of Wisconsin drivers said they would stop. I would have hoped for a higher number as we’re so nice here. I mean, we’re only one percentage point ahead of Illinois, whose drivers are challenged by the fact they are speeding by so fast they can’t even tell if that was a stranded motorist they just passed.

There are a lot of lonely highways in parts of South Dakota where we just vacationed, but we were generally on much-traveled interstates so I wasn’t too worried about a breakdown. As I mentioned in one of my columns about the trip, I would like to drive the Badlands loop someday. Several of my sisters-in-law did that once and said they were indeed nervous about breaking down out there.

I’m sure they would have been fine, as long as someone from Massachusetts wasn’t passing by.

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