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road rules

road rules

My brother-in-law has this side job where he takes pictures of accidents for the local utility company when the accidents involve one of their poles. This happens more often than you would think. Lots of roadway, lots of people in a rush, too much drinking and driving. The accidents are always ugly, often fatal.

We got to my sister's house last night at about 6:30 and her husband was on his way from one pole hit to another. Big drinking night, the night before a Sunday St.Patrick's Day. Big drinking night equals big pole hit night.

So, we are there about two minutes and the phone rings. It's my mother, and she wants to make sure Justin and I are accounted for. There has been a terrible car accident down the block (she lives across the street from me). She can see the flashing lights and hear the sirens and she just wanted to make sure all her chickies were safe in their nests. We call her back a half hour later, wondering if all our relatives who live on our block were at home. She says everyone we know is ok, it's not a relative that is in the mangled mess down the block. The lights are still flashing, the sirens still blaring. From what she hears, they are cutting people out of the overturned car, using the jaws of life.

I'm not suprised at all by this accident, at least not where it took place. There's a traffic light there, at the end of my block and no one ever pays attention to it. It's situated akwardly, around a curve and not quite at the corner. Maybe people don't expect to see it. Maybe they assume that because it's just a silly little side street that the red light means they can proceed anyhow, because who would be coming out of a side street, right? They put the light in because there is a church and a school there, and they needed a way to get people to slow down coming around that bend. It hasn't worked. It has failed so miserably that I go several blocks out of my way each morning so I don't have to make the left out of my street onto that main road. I don't want to deal with the speed demons and cell phone talkers who aren't paying attention to the red light ahead of them.

I leave my sister's house close to 10:00. I go to turn down the main street that will take me to my block and I see the flashing lights and the orange cones. Four hours later, the street is still blocked off. They are still trying to get these people out of the car. I backtrack and take another way home and for a few moments I stand in my driveway, looking down the block at the scene and wondering.

What makes a person feel so powerful, so immortal, that they think they can get away with anything? I try to put myself in the mind of a person that thinks it won't happen to me. I can get behind the wheel of this car even though I've been drinking all night. Won't happen to me. Or the person who thinks I can go 80 miles per hour down this local road, even though it twists and turns. Accidents happen to other people, not me. Hell, I won't even wear my seat belt! Those thoughts are not just idiotic, they are incredibly selfish.

There are people on the road who think they are invincible. They don't follow rules set up for their safety and the safety of others. Red lights and stop signs don't apply to them. Speed limits are meant to be doubled. No passing, no parking, no turn on red....all those signs have fine print that say except for you. It's written in special ink that only selfish bastards can see.

They put on their make-up and talk on their phones and read the stock quotes while driving. They don't wear seat belts and don't make their kids wear seat belts. They are young and old and male and female and they are careless and inconsiderate.

You are not invinicble. Just because you drive a huge car that resembles a tank does not mean you can drive like you are the only person on the road. You can still go flying through that windshield in an accident. I've seen it.

You are not immortal. You may be young and carefree and you may get a rush from weaving in and out of traffic and blowing by the people who are already going too fast. But being young and feeling like you have your whole life ahead of you does not preclude you from losing control of your car.

You are not immune. Look at drunk driving statistics. Look at your laws. You may think you are ok to drive after 13 beers, but you are not. You may think your vision and perception is ok, but it isn't. You may be that lucky person who gets behind the wheel bombed and makes it home alive. Or you may end up being a statistic. Hell, you may even end up causing someone else to be a statistic. Either way, you are a loser.

Not a week goes by where I don't pass an accident on the road. I'm tired of reading about dead teenagers and overturned cars and drunk drivers. Cars are lethal weapons. I'm pissed that I can't let my kids play on the front lawn without getting stressed out because people around here drive like they are in Death Race 2000.

I think I got off on a tangent here, and it's time for baseball practice so I can't end this with some kind of clinching statement. Just....be careful when you get in your car, ok?

Comments

A very interesting blog entry. I hope some of the people you describe read it and take note.

I've only seen one pole accident. I used to live near NCSU in Raleigh. The new school year had just started. I was driving home; I had a stop light. One car stopped behind me. Then we heard an explosion and sparks right at the top of the hill above us. I was close to home, so I parked my car there and walked back. A Honda had cracked a utility pole in half and was lodged between the two halves. The people from the bar pulled out one person that was still alive (I guess a mob of drunks don't think about consequences of broken necks. Leave it to the paramedics, you could kill him!) Two dead people were trapped under the pole. It took at least 5 hours to clean up the mess. I hate to think what would have happened if he hadn't hit that pole.

thanks for the reminder

Before you run a red light or a stop sign, or talk on your cell phone while driving--or get behind the wheel after a couple of drinks--before you do this, think about how you will feel for the rest of your life if your actions kill someone. Will you be able to go on living your usual life, knowing that you are personally and immediately responsible for the death of a person? And apologizing doesn't replace a person. You will never forget. And you don't deserve to.

About your title for the main page...
My friend just pointed this out to me,

"'dreamed' is not a word ya know.
it is 'dreamt'"

lol.

according to both Websters and Dictionary.com:

v. dreamed, or dreamt (drmt) dream·ing, dreams
v. intr.

"ya" is not a word, you know. lol.

you know, i've often passed pole accidents and thought, damn, that takes a special kind of idiot (or, arrogant careless drunk bastard, as the case may be) to run into a large, stationary object like that. and how about those people who run into houses? that just amazes me. it's one thing to run into other cars, or things that are in the street -- you drive IN THE STREET, not on the sidewalk, not through people's yards.

Hello, have fun with easy blogging!