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home : opinions : opinions July 22, 2018

10/10/2017 1:03:00 PM
Car crazy
By William Power

Remember when you got your first car? How excited you were! A long-awaited milestone was reached. You could take your girl to the movies. You could show off to all your friends, and if you survived that, you were ready to be an adult.

Soon, though, you needed to impress other adults. You added a good-looking car to your self-identity. You bought ever more expensive vehicles - sports cars that could weave in and out of traffic, SUVs, pickups - aside from the station wagons that safely carried your kids and their friends to all of their many activities.

Vehicle manufacturers added conveniences and safety features, but they didn't include a button that provides for common sense.

Even though you yourself continued to survive as a driver, you too often heard, saw and dreaded the sound and views of ambulances picking up the remains of vehicles and people who didn't, due mainly to human frailties of being distracted, drunk, on drugs, sleepy, full of road rage, heavy-footedness, poor judgment, etc. - which are all due to making bad choices, of course.

Drivers travel in a hurry to get to some place where they can waste time. Is it worth the consequences? So, we choose to kill ourselves and innocent others? It isn't our intent. Perhaps it is a lack of planning that includes the route, distance and time for unexpected events.

Recent studies tell us most of us are sleep-deprived. Accident rates increase with vehicle speeds. Everyone is tempted to use a cell phone while driving since it is glued to their ears and eyes at all other times. A recent study in Utah indicated that people take their eyes of the road to program the many improved features present in new cars - radios, phones, GPS, lights, heat, air conditioner, cruise control, fog lights, defrosters, and windshield wipers.

With convenience devices comes complexity. With human aging comes a need for simplicity. How many people study their manuals and dashboards well enough to know how these things work before they take the wheel? How can they possibly ignore the call on their cell phone?

Not to forget the emotional baggage carried. What happened just before this trip and what is the expected happening at arrival? Is the baby crying, the wife upset, the kids fighting in the back seat? How frustrating and aggravating is all that? Could we pull over and settle it?

Many accidents happen on Highway 20 between Suttle Lake and Bend. Why? Where is there a straighter road with many places to stop? It almost has to be driver error. It is probably mostly due to excessive speed. When in a hurry, push down on the gas. Get where you are going faster and solve your time problem? Wrong!

The distance between Sisters and Bend is about 20 miles. At speeds averaging 55 miles per hour, it takes about 22 minutes. At 60 mph, about 20 minutes. At 65 mph, it takes about 18 minutes.

Isn't it insane to want to gamble their life and the lives of others to save two to four minutes on the restful, beautiful way from Sisters to Bend?

Unfortunately as more and more drivers with bad habits crowd our roads and city streets, we can't expect fewer accidents. Bring on the robots so we can sleep, play with our toys, eat, drink and be merry, while we get safely to our destinations!

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