When my wife and I went through our decade-long decision process about where to live in retirement, we tried to examine large factors influencing quality of life. One of those factors was travel from where our house was to where we need to go most often. In the place we used to live, it was common to commute an hour or more to and from work every day. Millions of people do this without examination of what kind of risk they put themselves in.
I used to drive too fast, as many people do in big cities. It’s quite common for people to drive 5-15 miles per hour above the posted limit all the time. When the majority of traffic is doing this, there’s no way for police to regulate the behavior. Picking off speeders one or two at a time has no lasting effect. You slow down a little right when you drive by the cop, then speed up again to match the unstoppable wave of hurtling steel eggs.
The forces of gravity and momentum involved when being propelled inside a metal conveyance weighing hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pounds are too big for any human to control. We can plan for avoidance, orderly passage and arrangement of vehicles to maximize the use of road space, but if any of a hundred errors occurs the result will be out of your hands.
The cost of engineering truly “safe” vehicles is huge, so we rationalize a standard of safety vs. cost we can live with and that becomes safe enough. In countries where citizens have less money to spend on cars the standard is lower. Cars in these countries will have fewer protective features built-in. Even in those countries with the highest safety standards, more people will die or endure injuries of a permanent nature from driving than they will from working as military personnel in combat. That’s partly because so many more people drive than are soldiers, but did you ever think that one way to live longer would be to spend your life in combat and never drive?
Now my commute from home to the Urgent Care (where I’m on-call) is an unhurried nine minutes. Driving from the Urgent Care to my second job at the Dementia Care takes an additional seven minutes. I could shave off a minute or two by rushing if I had to, but the point of being close to where I need to go is to not have to rush. Too many people on the road are in a hurry. Although acting quickly is a normal part of both my jobs, I’m determined to drive slower. I’m in no hurry to die. I hope you aren’t either.