Just traffic fatalities

Unlike chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, the “cure” for traffic fatalities will depend more on technology and policy than on medicine and health science. On the plus side, we as a society already have pretty clear evidence of effective strategies for improving the problem – e.g., stricter speed limit enforcement, restrictions on commercial and residential building along arterial roads, and mandates for safety features such as automatic emergency braking. On the minus side, we as individuals are very limited in our power to enact those strategies.

~ Peter Attia from, https://peterattiamd.com/the-epidemic-on-the-road/

The article is about traffic fatalities in the context of the COVID pandemic. I’m focusing simply on the fact that more than 40,000 people died in 2021 in traffic fatalities. Sure there are lots of causes, but you know what the single most easily implemented change is? Of course you do. Slow down. Me? You’ll find me doing about 5-over-the-limit on the highway (so people don’t literally shoot me) and usually a little below-the limit otherwise. Often with the cruise control set. How about you?


Mind your own

Not to support this side or that in chariot-racing, this fighter or that in the games. To put up with discomfort and not make demands. To do my own work, mind my own business, and have no time for slanderers.

~ Marcus Aurelius, 1.5


I recently had a run-in— well, to be accurate, I drove off the road… But I’ll call it a “run-in” with reality. (No injuries, no serious damage, just a bit of unexpected adventure in what should have been a boring car ride.)

First, as I touch-typed that previous sentence, I ended that parenthetical note by typing, “…a boring car die.)” If that’s not a Freudian slip, (where you mean one thing but say your mother,) I don’t know what it is. I stared at it for a moment and then corrected it, as it now appears above. Driving off the road didn’t scare me, but it has clearly been rattling around my thoughts recently.

Second, after more thought in the days after: Yeah, I’m ok with what I’m up to these days. Doing my own work. Working on minding my own business. Not making demands. Putting up with discomfort. …and that last one is not a passive-aggressive, “that’s ok I’ll just sit here in the dark.” (How many grandmothers does it take to change a light bulb? in case you didn’t catch that.) I mean simply putting up with discomfort; it’s hot, I’m sweaty and the gnats are annoying, sort of discomfort.

Anyway, I’ve just added this wonderful reminder from Aurelius to my collection of daily reflection prompts. There were 57, and now there are 58. It also becomes quote number 652 in my growing collection. If you’re curious about how these posts are created, it’s a mixture of scheduled posts and daily writing. Instead of scheduling this one out somewhere in the future—which does have the advantage of surprising me when they do pop out… Instead, I’m opting to drop it here to give me some room for more thoughts.


Death by metal box

(Postcript: Hey! Almost died yesterday. For the umpteenth time. This is not a joke. I didn’t realize I needed to write about it—until I started typing.)

Recently it’s become necessary for me to make many commuting trips approximately an hour-and-a-half each way. Something came up, just as COVID-19 started, which trumps the stay-at-home-order for me—at first, sporadically in February, March, April and now straight-up five-days-a-week in May, I’m in the car commuting. Never mind why, just roll with me here. I’m now on the road a lot, like a regular commuter. It started when there was no one on the roads, and now things are starting to pick up—just starting mind you, I cannot imagine what this is going to be like soon, as things get back to normal traffic levels.

If you… you specifically reading this right now… have been, (or are,) commuting to your job by car. YOU ARE INSANE. “But I need the job/money!” …when you’re dead? Cool story bro’.

I’m not being hyperbolic.

I’ve driven a shit-ton since I was 16. I had a long distance relationship for years, driving 2, 3, and even 5 hours one-way to say, “hello!” I drove a delivery truck for a few years back in high-school. I’m nuts; I even have routines I use, (at all times,) to avoid losing focus. I’ve been in two accidents, both not my fault—both situations with kamikaze drivers. One literally nearly killed me; I was traveling at 60mph in my first Jeep. On a deserted highway. At midnight. When I was CREAMED from behind by someone doing ~90. (Stop here and try to figure that out.) It spun the Jeep—howling tires and tire smoke and those racing-car hour-glass skid marks… and I hit the guard rail. Also, three separate times since February—HOLY FUCKING SHIT SRLSLY T H R E E people have tried to kill me on the road since February! 1) On a two-lane highway curving left, a manic in the left lane, heads for the right-hand exit ramp through me; I managed to navigate between him, and the guy already on the ramp saving us all. 2) A sleepy driver coming off third shift, in the left lane, on the highway, micro-sleeps and veers through my driver’s-blindspot clipping me off the road, into the median towards the on-merging ramp traffic just as that median space went to zero; again, I saved everyone. 3) An oncoming Amazon delivery truck, rounding a bend, turns left across my path, in the rain; my rainy driving skills save everyone for the win. I can go on if you’d like more examples of driving incidents in the past where my skill has explicitly saved me. Once on a metal-grate bridge in the poring rain, in lane width restricted construction, two lanes, slow flatbed tractor trailer in the left lane, me declining to pass on the right, pissed people behind me, down slight grade at end of bridge, road curves right, truck gently touches his brakes and the trailer slides into my lane… would’ve caught me against the right-hand barrier but instead I smugly read the license plate on the trailer; There have been countless times avoiding being hit from behind in sudden braking situations, people crossing center-lines, tail-gaters, people cutting me off. Being on a road is attempted-suicide.

Every single time I narrowly avoid death I think: That is how I am going to die. Right there, like that, in a car. Once, twice … 42, 43, … 206, 207, 208, … how many times can I get lucky? I’ve seen ground-up people in car crashes as I slow-maneuvered around the accident! That’s how I’ll die. Right there under that truck, in that ditch, wrapped around that tree avoiding that other car. I’m going to die a slow, painful death in an automobile. Is it worth it?

oh. I see this is a rant… ok I’m good with this being a rant.

If you are commuting, YOU ARE INSANE. Save your own life and STOP. Quit your job. You can’t spend the money when you are dead. The people you are “working for” prefer you alive.

I’m straight-up begging for a $1-per-gallon gasoline tax to be routed exclusively into a dedicated driving enforcement arm of the State Police—four person officer teams always working in two cars for the stop. (Each stop should take, mandatory, a minimum of half-an-hour on the roadside. So everyone knows it’s hurts even to get stopped.) Also, mandatory every-5-years driver privilege/license re-testing with an evaluator-in-the-car driving test. Also, I want mandatory escrow accounts to qualify for a license—NOT JUST INSURANCE! I want you to put up a $250,000 secured bond before you can get a license. You’re balking? Wait, what value have you placed on your life?

omg ima stop now