Letter to the editor, Published in Lakeville Journal Oct. 28, 2016
Many thanks for last week’s Lakeville Journal Editorial calling attention to ‘Teen Driver Safety Week’. Our teen novice drivers are our most vulnerable to the simple driving mistakes that can be ‘catastrophic and irreversible’, often tragic. We at Survive the Drive endeavor to prevent these needless car wrecks, the consequences are too great to allow. We provide enabling information and concepts; evidence, analogies, science and behavior. We acknowledge tragedy without the gruesome. Everyone has seen the squirrel, raccoon or deer by the side of the road, we’re made of the same stuff. Each moment in our lives is gone forever, at any age.
From infancy ‘till the time teens get their licenses, each has spent thousands of hours as passengers in cars, acclimated to the seeming safety of their family routine and ordinary transportation. Relating the ‘realities’ of mishaps to any audience of licensed drivers is difficult, even to those who passed their test years ago. The common perception is that having passed the driver’s test and obeying and enforcing the laws will keep you and others safe. The gruesome statistics are people, not numbers, and show otherwise. Not pleasant, but true.
The World Health Organization and United Nations have called it the ‘Hidden Pandemic’ of costs, injuries and fatalities . . . worldwide, the U.S. Center for Disease Control included. Indeed, car crashes are the leading cause of traumatic injury and fatality on the planet, rivaling biologic disease in scale. Other countries around the world have decreased their crash rates significantly with social programs; training, education, evaluation, changing the ‘culture’ of driving along with enforcements. The U.S. eschews this social campaign, pitting its hopes on developing automatic and electronic technologies to keep our roadways safe. When was the last time your computer or electronic device malfunctioned, were you able to solve your problem within nanoseconds? The moving car has ‘projectile trajectory’ and nearly immediate ‘proximity to hazard’; immediate and violent. Your car can protect you, somewhat.
Indeed, last year’s uptick of car crashes in the U.S. shows that lately, we’re still vulnerable. The U.S. fatality rate has been nearly 100 per day since the 1950’s. Each of the millions of nonfatal crashes could have been. Crashes cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion per year (AAA figures).
So, for each of us, this information can’t be denied or ignored as irrelevant or unimportant. Our driving requires the attentive ‘vigilance’ of a surgeon, airline pilot or chain saw operator. When you spilled your milk as a child, your forgiving parent called it an ‘accident’. Whether inadvertent or unintentional, car crashes are not ‘accidents’ and are much less forgiving. The ‘iceberg did not hit the Titanic’. We should learn from this.
Survive the Drive offers their presentations to schools, civic organizations . . . anyone who’ll listen; 130,000 since 1996. We’re providing ‘Behind the Wheel’ driver emergency procedures training several times a year.
Let’s miss what statistics show us is probable but not inevitable.
For more information go to; www.survivethedrive.org.