The most dangerous activity we engage in is the one too many of us are too casual about.
Every Monday morning I catch up with the technology blogs and articles, including Colin Wall’s. His August 4th entry was about driving – how the roads are getting more crowded and, he feels, the skills of most drivers are in decline.
I agree with his first proposition but am not so sure about the second. People have always been maddened by other’s skills or lack thereof. Congestion just makes the problems more visible. About 1971 a new section of Route 95 opened between Washington and Baltimore. With four lanes each way one could drive at 100 MPH (not legally) and rarely see another car. Today that same route is often a parking lot and getting to the posted 65 MPH more an aspiration than a reality.
45 years ago I caused an accident, not serious, the third of my short driving career up till that point. And the last one till two years ago when on a dark, dark night two blocks from home I hit a deer. I’m not sure if this is a matter of luck or skill, but suspect it’s more the former rather than the latter as I’m not a particularly great driver. My parking is a family joke, and, yes, I did drive down a sidewalk in New Orleans recently but it sure looked like a driveway to me.
But I don’t tailgate, leaving a wide gap between my bumper and the person in front of me. That’s an engineering judgment – add margin to a system to absorb unexpected stresses. And I maintain a reasonable speed, not the oh-so-common breakneck pace that seems to indicate the driver feels he’s being pursued by all the demons of Hell.
Recently while on a high-speed ramp a car went flying by, probably doing 30 MPH over the limit. He spun out, ending up on the shoulder pointing into traffic. What was amazing was within a second he was underway again, as if this was an everyday occurrence. I would have needed a few minutes to compose myself.
I think there’s a moral element to driving. It’s the most dangerous activity most of us will ever engage in. Being careless for a few seconds could take the lives of entire families. A vehicle packs far more kinetic energy than a bandolier of bullets and, as we saw in Nice recently, can wreak a tragic amount of havoc.
I’m told the EMS people call collisions “crashes” rather than “accidents.” This makes a lot of sense to me since so many are really on-purposes. When someone elects to perform an unnecessary dangerous maneuver he has made a decision, and we are responsible for our decisions. If X leads to Y, and Y is an undesirable outcome, don’t do X.
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