A few months ago, on a warm and sunny Southern Utah morning, a motorhome traveling at highway speed suddenly left Interstate 15, plunged down an embankment and plowed through a chain link fence.
Somehow staying upright and with its momentum not yet spent, it continued across a busy street and, in a cloud of dust and debris, crashed through one duplex apartment and finally came to rest inside the other. If there is any upside to this story, it’s that the dwellings were not occupied at the time.
But, that meant little to those in the motorhome. Sitting in the front seats, mom and dad were killed. Their kids miraculously survived but all were seriously injured. The police haven’t yet figured out why it happened. Blowout? Maybe. Distracted or drowsy driver? Could be. Some goon cutting in front of them? Possibly.
All they knew for sure was that two people were dead and their five kids were badly hurt and suddenly orphaned. By the way, they were on their way to Disneyland.
You’re probably saying, “What a depressing story!” Well, yes it is but my purpose here is to get your attention, to shock you into thinking about your driving. When you turned the key this morning did you say to yourself, “Hey, today I could die or kill somebody in this thing!” Of course not, and neither did the people in that motorhome, nor any of the 30,000 other people in the United States who die in traffic crashes each year. Close to 3 million people are seriously injured every year.
But, it will never happen to me! Right? Wrong! Statistically the average driver will have three crashes during his or her driving career. We can only hope that one of those won’t be the big one.
The tragedy in all this is that most of this carnage is preventable if we would only take our driving more seriously. About five thousand of those fatalities each year are teens, by the way, but that’s a subject for another time. Most of us think very little about the way we drive, if at all.
Driving is a thinking task but we stop thinking about it. Hey, it’s what we do, no big deal. We forget that we are involved in a complex and very dangerous task which requires our undivided concentration especially in our larger, heavier vehicles. Pardon the mixed metaphor but driving is no walk in the park anymore.
Aggressive drivers are everywhere and they’re after your butt. It’s a war out there and not all of us are going to survive. You may think of yourself as a pretty good driver (most of us do) but are you really? I want you to ask yourself, “Am I good driver or someone who just knows how to drive?” There’s a big difference.
For most of us the physical task of driving a motor vehicle is a no-brainer. We can teach a monkey how to drive. But, what does it take to be a good driver and do you have it? We’ll save the answer to that for another time.
I’ve been in the driver training business for more than thirty years. My schools have trained more than 70,000 people of all ages in multiple states and in two languages. It’s kept me pretty busy.
But, now I have time to indulge my passion for safe driving on a wider scale. I may nag you at times and I’ll be in-your-face honest with you about the dangers of driving. If that’s not for you then tune me out. But remember, no matter your age or driving experience, what I have to say here might save your life. This is not about how to drive. This is about staying alive!
See you next time . . . I hope!