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Don’t d-d-d-do dat

Food For Thought

I noticed right away when the newscaster listed some driving no-nos, they all began with D. For a long time, we were warned to not drink and drive. Well, we all know better, but some of us get foolish and reckless after a couple drinks and think we have super powers and the warning doesn’t really apply to us.
Recently, the warnings have increased to include a few more D’s. We are told not to drive drunk, drugged, distracted and, the latest addition, drowsy. It seems an increasing percentage of accidents are blamed on the fact someone was sleep-deprived or physically tired when they got behind the wheel. I can certainly understand the reasons for driving drowsy– when we’re tired or sleepy, the goal uppermost in our mind is to get home. We want to be home where our family is, where we feel most comfortable, where we can get comfort and consideration for our plight, and where our familiar bed and favorite pillow await. Then we can rest. A motel bed or a nap in the car pulled into a rest area just isn’t the same.
These examples of such poor judgment come to mind. None was fatal, but the potential was there and they were frightening enough at the time. The first was a tired businessman returning after 10 o’clock at night to Iowa City from Des Moines. It had been a long day, beginning with an early morning drive to Des Moines, followed by several business meetings, and culminating in a couple cocktails and a rather lavish dinner before the trip home. It was never certain if it had been sleepiness, tiredness, worry over the problems encountered during the meetings, the two drinks, or the heavy meal, but the business man crashed into a bridge abutment and totaled the car. There were four or five good reasons for that man to have decided to not drive home that night, but he chose to ignore them. Did I mention the car was less than a week old?
A woman who suffered from sleep apnea drove from her home to her job every morning after a fitful night’s sleep. Sleep apnea interrupts deep, restful sleep repeatedly during the night and sufferers often find themselves drifting off to sleep for brief periods during the day. These episode may last only seconds while sitting at one’s desk, watching television, attending a boring meeting, or– unfortunately for her– driving a car on a familiar route that requires little concentration. But, it takes only seconds for an inattentive driver to let her car drift into the left lane and collide head-on with another vehicle.
A man searching for a street address in a strange town finds himself going the wrong way on a one-way street. He stops his car, flips open his cell phone and calls the friend whose house he is looking for. The traffic is fairly busy and his friend tells him to turn north. Confused, not knowing which way is north, he turns onto another one-way street, again going the wrong way. There are no driveways to “pullinto” where he can turn around, so he continues until he comes to another cross street. Fortunately, this is not a one-way street, but as he begins to turn right, an oncoming car crashes into him, smashing in the driver’s door and sending him to the hospital.
And then, there is my own personal experience with unexpected driving hazards. About a year ago, I was on my happy way to see a publisher friend in Cedar Rapids, I was traveling on a very busy street, six lanes in some places, and many large and confusing intersections. I was anticipating a pleasant visit with him and his wife, and anxious to pick up several copies of a book I had written which he had published. Thinking about the pleasure I’d receive from presenting copies of my book to some dear friends, I guess I was driving on automatic pilot when I started across the intersection– BAM – where I had once been heading roughly north, I found myself facing southeast and going nowhere. Cars were whizzing past me in three directions, my right rear wheel was bent and the drive shaft lay on the roadway, not tucked up under the chassis where I’m pretty sure it belonged.
I think there should be another D added to that list of don’ts. Don’t drive Daydreaming.