Be Safe Out There

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.


Filed under Self-Esteem, symbolism, Technology, Travel

6 responses to “Be Safe Out There

  1. meredith

    great point Mikey! I feel the same way. Since I got my Prius in ’06, I find myself driving more slowly and carefully, at first to try and get the most gas mileage (which isn’t what they advertise, but still averages over 40 mpg), but generally, I want to be safe!! And I love the car engine turning off and switching to electric when I ease off the accelerator, or sit in traffic.
    I have a short commute to work, and live in my Santa Monica rent controlled apartment nearby, while my husband lives near his work in Whittier, so we “visit” each other :/ I only drive there before 2 pm or after 8 pm. And if in slow traffic, I just chill out and go with it – I actually think that it’s safer when everyone is stuck going slow.

    Santa Monica is noisy and more crowded. The Santa Monica airport now allows private jets and they take off regularly, especially on weekends.

    I’m so glad you don’t have those crazy commutes any longer!!!! Good for you and Mary.
    Best regards,

    • I’m happy to hear from you, Meredith, and thanks.
      You drove the longest commutes of anyone I’ve known personally. I’m glad you’ve found ways to cope with it and adapt. Do you have a web site for your and/or John’s projects? I would be happy to post the link.

      (Meredith and her husband are both musically talented, and she and I go way back.)

  2. Hi!
    I don’t have a license, but have had learner permits before, that three-point turn always causes me to fail. I’m calm as can be in traffic, but pedestrians and cyclists scare the out of me. It is a goal to get my license sometime. I’d probably be on the go a lot by myself. Hopefully I wouldnt suddenly pass out or die.
    Doubt I’d deliberately speed. Hope life is treating y’all well.

    • Life’s keeping me interested, like usual. The current events are exciting. Being a more cautious person than most, you might make an exceptionally good driver, Lisa. It does take experience to operate machines well, but think how much better at the computer you are than when you began.

  3. Excellent points. I have a complete aversion to speeding cars that has developed in recent years. My nervous system just doesn’t like the craziness. You are right, it’s so out-of-control. I’m so glad I don’t live like that anymore and glad for you too!

    • What I REALLY like best is to experience the world at the speed of walking. Unfortunately, things I want to get to are placed at distances far enough apart to require mechanical transport, even in this cute little town. Now that it’s a smaller, safer environment I’m considering bicycling again. I tried that in L.A. but it was too dangerous and crowded on most streets.

      Peace to you, Sandra.

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