For the love of all that’s holy, be an attentive driver

I got off easy in a recent accident, some people aren’t so lucky


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The players: me, my beautiful little car and the dude who hit me. The location: Interstate 94 as the sun begins its gentle descent behind the horizon.


Me: How happy I am to be driving home after a long day. Now for a quick bike ride around the neighborhood before some much deserved rest. After all, I need to be up early to be a productive member of society in the morning.


Dude: *Not paying attention*


Me: Will you look at that? The car ahead of me is slowing rapidly. According to the lessons of Mrs. Prudhomme, my dear driving instructor from years past, I should decrease my speed gradually and turn on my flashing lights to ensure the car behind me has time to reduce its speed as well.


Dude: *Not paying close enough attention*


Me: Thank goodness I was paying attention. I stopped with plenty of room between my car and the vehicle ahead of me. This could have been a nasty accident.


Dude: *Not paying close enough attention as he slams into the back of my gold Ford Focus, spills my Diet Coke and generally alters the course of my night*




I may be a little too sore to write this column right now, both emotionally and physically, but I will persevere to pass on this cautionary tale. I was involved in a motor vehicle accident last week.

In a strange sense, I’m sort of glad this happened the way it did. After all, what else would I have written about this week? The weather? Politics? Finally buying a house after six months of searching? Well, I’ll get to that last one next week, but this was more important: Please, please, please, please pay attention when you’re driving.

It’s easy to forget when you hop into your ride and proceed out of the driveway that the vehicle you’re operating is really a mass of metal, plastic and fiberglass weighing in at or above a ton. And you’re about to propel that ball of material down a hard surface at high speeds.

At a previous newspaper job a large portion of my time and energy were devoted to public safety reporting. I covered everything from police statistics to house fires. But most importantly, I worked emergency scenes, photographing and taking notes on all kinds of car accidents. Everything from fender-benders to fatalities.

You never forget the first time you see a dead body stretched out on the street. Ever. It will alter the way you drive and think about driving for the rest of your life.

Luckily I wasn’t too beat up by last week’s fiasco. A sore neck and a trip to the hospital to get checked out are well worth the trouble. My car might be a little more complicated to get back in working order, but again, neither me nor the other fellow were too badly banged up. For that I am truly grateful. I know it could have been much, much worse.

Driving is dangerous. It deserves your attention. It deserves your complete attention. Please pay attention when you’re driving.