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As drivers, what are we thinking about?

August 13, 2011
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

As author of the weekly "Did You Know" articles, I listen daily to complaints about other drivers doing stupid things. I scan the "Speakout" comments in the Press-Republican, many about dangerous and dumb things that other drivers do. I scan the papers for reports of crashes, arrests for various violations, and other sources to try to get a feel for what's going on in the real world of local driving and lastly to get ideas for this column. Just recently, I was amazed by the following incidents, all happening on just one day.

In Dutchess County, two motorcycles were clocked by police going 100 mph. As the officer pulled out to give chase after the first motorcycle passed, the second one hit the police car at 100 mph, a glancing blow, and the rider was fortunately only injured.

In Herkimer County, a camper backed out of her campsite and hit a one year old girl, killing her.

In another upstate New York town, a man lost control of his car and smashed into a utility pole, killing his 20-year-old son and the son's girlfriend. Speeding and alcohol were contributing factors in this crash.

Has driving become so commonplace that we think we can do anything and get away with it? Do we think we can drive at 100 mph and not get hurt? Do we think we can just get into our cars and back up without carefully checking to see if there might be a toddler around, especially in a campsite?

A previous "Did You Know" article focused on reducing unsafe acts when driving, which will in turn reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities, according to the safety pyramid model created by H.W.Heinrich. According to this model, every 10 unsafe acts, such as not signaling a turn, or passing another vehicle in an unsafe place, leads to a near-miss or minor property damage incident. Look for a future "Did You Know" to review this again.

No driver purposely gets into a crash. Most of us think we are good, safe drivers and the other guy is the problem. But, that other guy thinks you are the problem, and in reality, we all are the problem. So, as they say, "Accidents happen". But, they don't have to. We all need to work on becoming better drivers. We need to get out of the rut that says "I am a good driver - I don't need to become better." In sports, the philosophy is to become the "best you can be". Why not the same with driving?

Some day, I would like to pick up the morning newspaper and not be able to find one crash, one DWI arrest, or any arrests for anything related to driving. I won't hold my breath.


For more articles on vehicle and traffic law and traffic safety, go to the Franklin County web site at: and under Departments, click on Traffic Safety Board.



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