It was a beautiful Sunday morning. I was visiting my son in Santa Cruz, California. We had lived a number of years in this paradise. I missed driving Route 1, which is so scenic, it almost can’t be true.
I like to visit Half Moon Bay every time I am in Santa Cruz because I LOVE a pastry shop that has my very favorite Bienenstich (Bee Stung Cake) pastry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bienenstich
I was very much looking forward to my pastry and, of course, an unbelievable ride with the sun shining on the waves of the Pacific Ocean on my left. Because of the curving road, I could see the silvery waves rising and falling as I drove. A true paradise on earth.
In the distance, I could see an accident on the ocean side of the street. A police car faced a car and a body on the street next to a tangled bicycle. A traffic jam was starting on both sides of the street. I know that bicyclists flock to this road because of its exhilarating breeze and unbelievable ocean view. I drove on the right-hand side of the tragic scene and waited in line with other motorists. The accident must have happened only a few minutes ago, because I was near the front of the line. The police must have been waiting for an ambulance. I heard the ambulance’s screeching horn at a distance getting closer.
The driver must have been distracted by his mobile phone, and hit the bicyclist. The next day I read about the tragic fatality with gory details.
Why should this happen?
Familiarity breeds contempt. We are so used to driving, we discount the danger of a fatal accident. Take a few seconds, when you want to start the engine, to reflect that you might kill someone with the weapon you are about to start.
How horrible would you feel for your entire life, knowing that you killed another human being who was someone’s daughter or son, sister or brother, or mother or father? The dying person’s face will haunt you. And what was it all about? Someone called or sent a message or a selfie or a video that you could have waited to view.
We as a society have reached a stage of addiction with mobile phones, similar to an addiction to nicotine, alcohol, or drugs.
US Road fatalities were decreasing – until——
For a couple of decades, US road fatalities were deceasing in spite of an increased number of cars on the road. According to Bloomberg’s report, road fatalities have increased 14.4% over the past two years. Other variables such as distance driven and speed limits haven’t changed. http://bloombg.org/2iKh7pV
Mobile phones (dumb and smart) is a new variable that has entered the multivariate analysis. With smart phones, you can key in messages, and enter user IDs and passwords to view photos and websites. That means that your eyes and brain can be distracted from driving for several seconds. According to the National Highway Transportation Association (NHTSA), pedestrian fatalities have increased, even though more and more pedestrians are becoming car drivers. According to San Francisco start up Zendrive, in a study of 3 million drivers, phones were used during 88% of trips. https://www.zendrive.com/
U.S. Federal data shows that every day, 8 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured because of distracted driving. And on any given day, around 660,000 people are on their cell phones or other electronic devices while driving. Most states in the US ban cell phone use by new drivers, but only 14 have rules against all drivers using hand-held devices.
What actions should be taken? One of my colleagues and I will be covering more of the issues around this reckless behavior and some suggestions towards:
Drivers should be held accountable. Not cars. firstname.lastname@example.org