All five dead in a two car crash. This was the local headline last week after two vehicles, a 2014 pickup truck and a 2014 SUV, collided head-on on a two-lane road. It seemed strange, with all the new vehicle safety systems, that everyone in both vehicles should perish. Then came the kicker: no seatbelts were being used in either vehicle.
Two thoughts stick out from this story. First, rural two-lane roads continue to be the most dangerous places to travel. According to the last statistics I read, the interstate highways are four times safer than two-lane highways. And second, air bags and car crush zones increase safety margin for occupants, but seat belts remain the most important protection in a crash. Our family van speaks up with some obnoxious chime-sounding when seatbelts aren't fastened. You'd have to be deaf not to heed its warning. And should I mention parents who want to give their kids a good example? And that wearing seatbelts is the law in Alabama and many other states?
School basketball is winding down. Both of our varsity teams, boys and girls, are in the state tournament, which begins this week. But looking ahead, softball, baseball and soccer are beginning now! It is going to be a busy spring. If your kids are so involved, be sure they get enough sleep and keep up with their school work. Spring sports seem to intrude on academics more than even football. The spring game schedules have players leaving school early much more often than in the fall--as for a 3 p.m. game an hour away, for example.
Our Driver's Ed course includes a section on boating safety so the kids can get a boating license. Does yours?
Finally, Jim Thompson recently wrote about officials who make dumb statements in public because of emotional responses. I try--notice I said try--always to keep myself control and to do things on purpose. If I'm angry, I respond purposefully with a goal in mind. In defense of those who lose control, self-control is a hard thing to do. I really have to work at it. In the end, though, it seems worth it. You may not always get the results you desire, but at least your brain is in gear. As a last resort you can do what "Red" Reddington does on "The Blacklist" -- abruptly change the subject.
Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.