The first time I rode along Highway 40 out of Lillooet, I was so scared I nearly cried. Growing up in the hills of southern Ontario did not prepare me for the knife-edge single lane dirt track that B.C. names a highway. But I am now living proof that humans are adaptable. I actually enjoy traveling the back roads around here.
I start every winter with fervent prayers that we will get through this season unscathed. In 1996 my partner and two of his friends were killed on the Trans-Canada in a collision with a tractor-trailer. It was a devastating accident. It took me many years to recover from the shock and loss of my dear love. That one moment of "oops" sent out ripples into the world that are still being felt 15 years later. Every winter I hear a story of someone perishing on the road. I notice my background stress level stepping up as the snow starts to fly.
A couple of years ago, I had to travel to Kamloops the morning after the first snow of the year. I was driving a beat up old Ford Taurus with good winter tires. We called that car "The Tortoise." It was really cold with a skiff of snow, and it just stuck to the road and created an icy layer. Needless to say, my speed was living up to the car's silly name. As I got on the faster highway after Cache Creek I noted no less than six vehicles in the ditch on the way to town. Most of them were really decked-out pickup trucks. I was relieved to see that none of them had rolled, it looked like everyone must have been pretty much okay. No doubt the high rollers driving those rigs thought four-wheel drive was their guardian angel. Oops. Four wheels on ice will still glide. Amazing how the laws of physics can sometimes bring down the mighty.
Once a tow truck driver who brought The Tortoise to Shulaps Service for us, told us his story of that same morning. He was in a convoy of tow trucks bringing all those vehicles into Kamloops, with an RCMP officer escorting them at the front. Some fool made the mistake of passing the convoy in a very unsafe manner, and found out too late that the police were up there. The tow truck driver described seeing the driver's wife just hollering at her husband as they passed him. I can't help but wonder what she said when they got pulled over!! Personally, I would have had a very hard time keeping my temper if I had been that cop.
Stupid, bad, fast driving is one of the only things that really gets my blood boiling. I start feeling like taking a bat to chrome and glass. I am not going to, but sometimes I just feel like saving people the trouble of risking their life and limb to trash their car. It'd be a lot safer to let me do it.
But, I am not that kind of person. Instead, I will resort to writing opinion pieces, hoping to affect the behaviour of my readers. Friends, most of these accidents are perfectly preventable, with one simple rule; Slow Is Beautiful. There are a lot of other parts to making a good driver, but no one can deny that speed as the element that makes cars deadly.
So slow down. While you are driving slowly, you can think about all the other slow things in life that are so wonderful. You can think about how much you want to enjoy all those things for many years to come.