The Speed that Kills


     Tooling down the highway at four miles over the posted speed limit, I am ever so careful to stay alert. I have never (thanks be to God) been in a serious accident. I hope to never be.

     Good sense tells me to take extra care when I’m practically bumper to bumper with semis, going 75 miles an hour, driven by sleepy truckers.

     Especially considering my car is small and silver and apparently hard to see (given all the times someone has cut me off), I don’t want to be in a smash up at high speeds, so do everything I can to drive safely and defensively.

     I keep both hands on the wheel when things are congested on the blacktop. I make myself wait until the traffic is cleared a bit to start munching on an apple or fiddling with the radio. I consider myself a safe driver.

     On a long road trip this past week, I was caught up in a big construction mess. Two lanes of fast-moving vehicles suddenly decelerated to a crawl. Stopped, in fact: first gear, clutch to neutral, first gear, neutral, brake. I got excited when my tach revved up to 3,000 rpm’s and I shifted into second gear, thinking we were going somewhere.

     In my little ground-hugging car, I couldn’t see anything beyond the brake lights of the vehicle in front of me, so I did what he did. I hugged the edge of the pavement and used curves in the road to get a better perspective.

     Argh! The line snaked on for miles. I called my husband to say I might be home later than I thought. I poured water over the ice left in my cup. I ate chips. I found more relaxing music. In other words, I let down my guard.

     On the edge of the highway, I saw a highway patrol car and wondered if an accident was what had congested the traffic. There were no emergency lights and the truck and car stopped in front of him didn’t have any apparent damage. Our line crept on.

     I decided these guys may have had a little fender-bender but they weren’t the reason every vehicle traveling I-35 South was being forced to crawl along in the sweltering heat.

     How ironic, I thought, to have an accident at seven miles an hour, rather than at seventy. Better, of course, because bodily harm is less likely, but oh, so unnecessary. I wouldn’t like it at all, especially if it was my fault I crammed into a stopped car while digging lip balm out of my purse. I wouldn’t like it if it was done to me, either and (Grrrr!) the culprit better have good insurance.

     Life is like traffic, sometimes. Maybe if we know there is danger in our way–a temptation to lose one’s temper, an opportunity to gossip, pornography on the Internet–we are ever so cautious and on guard.

     It’s when thing seem to be rocking along smoothly and at a snail’s pace that we get ourselves in trouble. At times like this, slow is the speed that kills.

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About janets123

Children's writer, newspaper columnist, essayist, poet, storyteller
This entry was posted in Short Takes on Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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