I realize it’s been more than a month since my last post. Life and all that. But that’s not what got me itching to write tonight. Annoyance made me want to write.
This morning there was a 50-vehicle pileup in Pennsylvania. At this time (over 12 hours later) the interstate is still closed in sections, and three people have been confirmed as fatalities. I read some early reports on the accident and saw one or two photos. It wasn’t pretty. A little while ago I found a link that has a large number of photos: arial shots, close-ups, different angles… The pictures didn’t get to me as much as the comments on the article did. I’ll get to that in a moment (the rant). After looking at the photos I have a pretty good idea which vehicles had the fatalities. When you can barely tell there is a vehicle under part of a tractor trailer, well, it’s not a good sign.
Here is what I read in earlier reports: There has been a weather related warning issued for the area. Due to the storm front moving through, there was the possibility of snow and high winds. At the time of the accident the snow just came on very quickly, and the winds were at 30 mph. One person who was stopped by police said she managed to stop, but saw other vehicles slide off the road. It was a white-out condition. Those conditions are dangerous for any driver – regardless of how many years you’ve been driving, or how much experience you have driving in that type of weather. Just because you feel you know what you’re doing, that doesn’t mean the others on the road know. Anything can happen in a blink of an eye: a gust of wind hits a vehicle the wrong way causing it to swerve, a driver hits their brakes and due to the white-out condition the other drivers can’t see the brake lights until it’s too late… anything.
Now for the rant. In true “someone has to bear the blame” fashion, people who weren’t there are pointing fingers. Some say it’s the fault of the truckers, that they drive to reckless. Some say it was an idiot driving a car who wasn’t paying attention. I read through a lot of the comments. Enough to see a lot of bashing going on. Guess what folks? Right now it doesn’t mean a damn thing to know who or what caused the pileup! It is possible that law enforcement/first responders may never know. What matters is that three lives were lost. Many others were injured. Many people put their own safety on the line to get to the scene of the pileup to help those involved.
Here’s my take, short and simple: if weather advisories are announced, and people are urged to stay off the roads (no, I do not know for certain if they were for this storm), stay off the damn roads! Unless you must be on the road for your job (trucker, first responder, DOT road crew), stay home. Bad/unsafe drivers come in all types of vehicles: tractor trailers, SUVs, sports cars, minivans, etc… The safest driver in bad weather conditions is the one who stays off the road.
One last thing before I share the link to the article with the photos and sign off. One person who was very vocal about how poor truckers drive (cut off other vehicles, “blockade” private passenger vehicles, drive in the left-hand lane, etc…) felt the need to post a photo to prove his point. A photo he took WHILE DRIVING, and then had the nerve to say it was okay (meaning he wasn’t driving distracted) because there weren’t any other cars around? WTF, asshole?! There were two trucks in the photo, but there were no other cars around so it was safe. It is this mentality that is a huge problem, and no it isn’t just the millenials. It is all age groups. I have read the studies (the real studies in the science journals, not the fluffy versions posted in popular publications) and there is clear evidence that doing anything with your mobile phone while driving (including using hands free to talk) is a distraction to the driver. This is the stuff that truly pisses me off. He wants to blame bad truckers for all the accidents on our roadways, but he takes photos with his mobile phone while driving on a highway and sees no problem with it.
Before I got off on a really long (and most likely profane) rant on distracted driving and the whole “I’m not distracted” thing, I’m going to post the link. 50-vehicle Pileup in PA.
One final thing and I’m outta here: Drive safely. Drive defensively. Be alert of your surroundings and what other drivers are doing. Never demand the right-of-way. You are important to at least one person in this world, and they want to know you’ve arrived safely at your destination.