The world has seen some remarkable achievements in my lifetime: eradication of diseases like polio and smallpox, the discovery of planets circling other stars than our own, instant access to each other and valuable information across the world almost instantly and in the palms of our hands, and so on.
Yet, in some very important social ways, we haven’t grown a bit. Today, I’m talking about why we are all in such a huge hurry.
As a news photographer, I covered my very first fatal car crash in May 1982. A semi and a station wagon collided at the intersection of 38th Street and Cache Road in Lawton. The semi was going much too fast, trying to cheat a yellow light, and struck the other vehicle after hydroplaning for nearly half a block. The station wagon was hauling a load of blue paint, and the accident victims, who both died, had been covered in it.
I covered an eerily similar crash in 1992, near Allen, when a station wagon hauling white paint was struck by a van that was traveling much too fast.
The most important lessons we can learn from most of the crashes I have covered over the years, ones drilled into our heads by everyone from driver’s ed instructors to highway patrol slogans, and which mostly fall on deaf ears, is this: Speed kills.
I could rattle off bullet points about why this is true, but you already know them: longer braking distance, shorter reaction times, exponentially more destruction at the point of impact, and so on.
But people, maybe even you, still go too fast. Why? What is happening so urgently that you need to get from Shawnee to Okmulgee eight minutes sooner? I might understand if you were having a baby or needed to donate a kidney, but to see the first five minutes of Jeopardy?
This isn’t the Daytona Speedway, and there are other people on the roads. Kids. Families. Your neighbors.
You know I’m right. Watch for those speed limit signs and obey them. Some speed limits, in my opinion, are too high, particularly on two-lane highways common to our area.
Also, don’t let other drivers, or traffic, bully you into going faster. Slowing down reduces your chance of being in an accident and increases your chances of surviving one if it does happen. Slow down.