Welcome to wine country heaven. So why are you driving like hell?

I wish I had made that saying up, but I didn’t. This used to be written on a sign outside of the Dry Creek Store, on Dry Creek Road in Healdsburg.

I miss the sign not being there anymore. It carried an important message.

Jose and I drove there a while ago, so I could photograph it… Gone…

Yesterday, I was just reminded of the sign being gone again, while Jose and I were driving in wine country on the way to a meeting.

A red truck, driven by a blond female, hyped up on something (late for a meeting, drugs, having to go to the bathroom ~ any of these and so many more reasons) was dogging every car, truck, and SUV in front of her. If anyone needed an enema, she was there to deliver it.

She wanted everyone out of her way, and her body (truck) language left nothing for interpretation. On this four-lane highway, no one was going fast enough for her, while we were all doing 70 to 75 MPH. Back and forth, back and forth she went.

She gave each vehicle in front of her about a foot’s distance between them, until that person in front just couldn’t take the danger she was putting everyone in… the people in her own truck, the ones in front of her, the ones beside her, the ones behind her…

She simply wanted her way, regardless of the impending consequences to the lives and limbs of everyone else.

It seems to happen a lot out here, and I’ve wanted to write this as a public service announcement (P.S.A.) for a long time.

Perhaps not what anyone really wants to be reading, but maybe one person will be impacted and I’ve saved one life.

When I was producing PSAs for radio called “Modern Health,” this was one of the subjects I tackled, because the wellness and livelihood of so many are dependent on not only defensive driving, but also the good driving habits of us all.

When I did my research, it brought me back to the saying that we need one car length for each car between us, per 10 miles per hours. So, if you’re driving 60, you need six car lengths between you for those moments when any of the following could (and does) happen:

  • People texting.
    • Do they honestly believe they’re in control of anything?
    • Pull over and get real control.
  • People talking on phones.
    • It’s illegal in CA, because it has been the cause so many accidents, but it doesn’t seem to matter to a few of us.
    • Accidents only happen to others, right?
  • The person in front of you smoking drops his/her cigarette in his/her lap.
    • I did that about 30 years ago. It does happen, and fortunately I was able to recover.
    • I haven’t smoked since 1973.
  • An inexperienced driver pulls out in front of you, and you can’t stop.
    • This happened to my sister Merry and her husband.
    • That was years ago, and their bodies are still healing.
  • Someone falls asleep at the wheel.
    • This happened to my brother Peter in the 1970s.
    • He’s lost the use of his left arm. He was left handed and an artist.
    • He also lost a lot of his ability to create his art the same way, but still has it in him. He just has to work eight times harder to get it done.

Let’s talk about once you’re hit.

  • If the person is uninsured, like the driver that hit my sister, she had a cap with her own insurance company. There’s no pain and suffering in this case. Her compensation was really limited.
  • My brother was picked off his Harley by a cop who fell asleep at the wheel. The cap from the city of Lewiston, Maine was $250,000. Today, that can be earned in a year. Then, it would have taken care of him for 10 years. He was in his 20’s at the time…. in the 70’s

And then there’s death.

  • If it’s you, bye bye…
  • If it’s someone you love, I’m really sorry for your loss(es).
  • If it’s someone you hit that wants retribution, you’re going to spend a good portion of your life in jail.

By the way, what I learned – that’s MORE IMPORTANT than you might want to know, is that when the original studies were done in the fifties, it was under controlled conditions. The driver and follower knew that someone was going to stop first, the second driver was anticipating it, so there would be a chain reaction from the second driver. The new determination was that it takes even more distance than originally determined.

Our highways would be totally jammed, if we all drove this cautiously, I know; but, can it hurt to take a bit more caution? (Probably not.)

When I was a kid, we had a television PSA. It was a guy behind the wheel, and someone ticked him off. Within 15 seconds, this adult cartoon character morphed into a child jumping up and down on the seat of the car as a driver; and a voice reminded us, “A baby behind the wheel is murder.”

So many adult drivers still need to mature.

My sister has been a registered nurse since the 1970s. She’s also a certified dietitian, so she understand the human body’s anatomy and physiology. She just said to me, as we discussed this issue (which is not just confined to wine country, but I loved that sign)…

“You only have to be in one accident and your life will be changed forever. In the first year, your bones will heal. After that, it’s your digestive system and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder… You’ll have nightmares.”

And, no one was killed in her accident.

Welcome to wine country heaven. Why would you drive like hell?

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