Outside My Window

I heard a crash outside.  Lacey was in the front of the house so I asked her if all was ok.  She said no.  

The scene of the accident was just outside our window.  The driver hit a parked truck.  The point of impact was half a block uphill from a stop sign.  7:30 am.  Perfect visibility.  Very wide street (about three lanes wide).  The speed limit is 30 mph.  Something must have distracted the driver.  Cell phone?  Even so, how did he achieve enough speed to flip his car in half a block, uphill, in a modest american sedan?  Glad to report that he is ok, but in times like this I can’t help but place me on my bicycle where the parked truck took the hit.

Nothing says grumpy old man more clearly than someone complaining about how fast people drive down their residential street.  Today I am that grumpy old man.  Lacey backs out of our drive every morning.  We just agreed to stop waving goodbye so that Lacey isn’t distracted as she enters the superhighway that is our residential street.  

My sister was in a car crash almost three years ago.  Best guess is that she went over the centerline while entering a major roadway after leaving her local street.  She hit a semitruck head on.  The truck driver was uninjured.  My sister died at the scene.

Please, only drive when you drive.  Put down your phone.  Drink coffee at home.  I don’t care if you say you go the speed limit.  Go slower.  The speed limit is an upper limit, and the actual upper limit is the lower of the posted limit and the speed that is safe under the circumstances. You are free to go slower.  This grumpy old man is surprised that the upper speed limit in front of his house is 30.  The upper speed limit on residential roads in Omaha is 25.  That feels better. Heard of the slow food movement?  Start a slow driving movement.  Better yet, pedal.  Carefully.


8 responses to “Outside My Window

  1. Yeesh!! I’m so glad you, Lacey, Frida and the folks you know are OK. That looks like a mess of a mess and quite the physics quandry. Can’t agree more on the bike perspective and the benefit of a movement to slow things in general.

    I’ve never understood why advertisers/marketers aren’t happy for me that I’m excited about a 5 year old book or a free movie that I haven’t seen in a decade. Why do they only want us to be happy with their newest whatever-it-may be?

    Oh yeah. Right. OK, I understand. Better go rush to the job to rush to the bank to rush to the store to rush to the TV to get the new ads to rush to the job to rush to the ba . . .

    • Thanks for writing.

      You will always be one of my non-consuming guideposts. I loved your story about the time you spent repairing your grandfather’s chain saw. I am excited to see that in action.

      Happy New Year!

  2. Oh my gosh Randy, I’m so sorry about your sister.
    Thanks for this reminder to be present while driving (an activity that sometimes still, to be honest, even after 5 years of doing it, scares the shit out of me).

    I can’t believe that accident happened on your quiet street. Man.

  3. Randy, I am very sorry to hear about your sisters accident. I never knew.
    We had a fatal auto accident in front of our house a few months ago [we live on a rural road with a dangerous turn]. We have been trying to get the road improved, but it is really the speed which people drive.
    Well other than car accidents happening…Happy New Year.

  4. Perry told me about this when you posted it and I’m just seeing it now. This is crazy. How the heck could this happen on your street? I’m sorry about your sister. My brother was in a serious accident when a driver facing the opposite direction, who, we were told, was probably distracted by doing something in her car (before cell phones were prevalent), swerved into his lane. I was at a hospital that day (of all places), getting immunizations in preparation for going to college, when I received a call from my dad saying my brother was being air lifted to the hospital. It was also a bright sunny day with no adverse weather conditions. After broken bones, surgeries, teeth replacement he is ok, but she was killed instantly. We read in her obituary that she was an animal lover and gave her spare time to helping animals. My brother was driving a big old vintage truck, and she was in a small car. He said that he saw it happening and, with the guard rail, there was no available space for him to get out of the way. I remember the police told us that the small car always loses. Not exactly a great message when we’re all trying to conserve energy by driving smaller, more efficient cars. We all need your reminder, myself included, to be better, more defensive drivers.

    • That is a terrible thing to have to go through. For everyone. I am very glad your brother is ok. Our cars and roads are so advanced now we should be able to avoid most accidents, yet they keep happening. Excessive speed, inattention, inebriation and sleep deprivation are too often the cause. I think we give people too many chances. Why not adopt a zero tolerance policy? Get caught making one mistake and you are done driving for life. Or give them one extra chance but after a first violation your vehicle is painted with white and black stripes with the word VIOLATOR on the side. I would hope mistakes would be very rare. You could still bicycle for transportation. Cleaner air. Healthier people. Safer roads. What is the downside to traffic laws with really sharp teeth? Why are we so forgiving when the result is death and destruction? We are barbarous, I tell you.

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