One day we are going to look back on the carnage on our roads with disbelief. Our kids will say "did you know they used to drive those things at each other at 100km/h, separated only by painted lines — crazy bastards".
I love cars. I love my Ranger. Driving around town is great. But I worry when my children are being driven between cities. Who knows what could happen? For most of us, long distance driving is the most dangerous thing we do.
'Take care on the roads' is hardly an original concept. The Government spends millions a year on the message. I just think the danger of death on the roads is so large it makes most other risks in our safety-obsessed world pale in comparison.
We spend so much time over-regulating the tiny things, there's a danger real safety messages will lose their power. Warnings about 'walking without a lid on your coffee' should be ridiculed and ignored. But the roads? We should be freaking terrified.
A few years ago they banned climbing trees at my kid's primary school. We aren't talking redwoods here. The branches were 1.5m off the ground. When he told me about the ban I was driving him through the Crown Range. Now that's an actual danger. I told him to climb all the trees you want but promise you will never take risks on the road.
A friend works in an office that banned eating food at desks for safety reasons. He's not a pilot or giant crane operator. He sits on his arse all day in front of a computer. He was allowed to fang the work car up to Whangārei at breakneck speed if he wanted. Just no pies at his desk.
I was walking up some stairs the other day when I saw a huge safety sign. 'Keep hands on the rail'. This is a three-step flight in a parking building. There were 500 cars in that place. Every single person had risked astronomically more getting there than they do walking up or down those tiny stairs. It's a waste of time.
People wear helmets on slow-moving push bikes. But you would be considered a nut case if you wore one in the passenger seat of a car. Yet full face helmets in cars would save a bunch more lives than skid lids on a push bike. I'm not suggesting we do that. Just that we get some safety perspective.
Forget the risks of cream doughnuts on your laptop. Forget the rough walking surface warnings. If you do one safety thing in your life remind yourself before you leave town to drive carefully. Eyes on the road, don't take risks, watch out for morons.
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I think back to what a complete and utter moron I was on the road when I first got my licence. Once on tour with my band, we passed the headlining act at speed with our bare butts hanging out the passenger windows. We were laughing so much we didn't notice a car coming the other way and had to swerve into a ditch to avoid a horrible accident.
Idiots. Inches from death. Everyone in our car would have been gone, the oncoming family would have been gone too. Not to mention the celebrated rock band we were mooning.
No matter how careful you are you can't be sure my idiot 17-year-old self isn't coming at you at speed with his pants around his ankles. So keep your eyes on the road.
With all the over-the-top safety protocols we follow in the workplace, all the coddling we do in schools, there are very few things in the ballpark of how dangerous it is out on the open road. If anything is going to get you and your family it's your car.
If all goes well the robots will take over the driving and our kids will laugh at how crazy we were. In the meantime, I'm going to try to be way more afraid.