July 12, 2024

Drive Like Your Life Depended on It

Rehoboth Ramblings


 I’m pausing while writing this to meet with the insurance claims person after our car was rear-ended a couple of days ago. Fortunately, the other car was fairly small and not some gigantic SUV. This was in Tiverton, RI, on Main Road just past Evelyn’s Drive-In, at the intersection of Rt. 177. This is another of the thousands of intersections in New England that could use a traffic light. We always joke that if we wrote a book about travel in New England, we’d call it “This Intersection Needs a Light”.

Having even a relatively minor accident is a major nuisance – the insurance claim, how long will the car spend in body shop, will they have the parts, how much will you have to pay out of pocket, and so forth. It also causes you to ruminate. If only we had been at that corner a few minutes earlier (this is a pointless exercise) or, what would happen in the case of a serious accident (best not to dwell on that) and most of all, why can’t people drive more carefully?

It’s not just me saying that drivers have become a lot worse in the past few years and not only in New England. Statistics have shown a noticeable increase in accidents no matter where you live. I’ve noticed in particular news about increasing incidents of cars plowing into houses, stores, and offices. Some of these of these collisions are even fatal, and they all cause enormous damage. Is this because people are texting or looking at screens instead of the road?   If self-driving cars could be made foolproof (that’s a big if) and affordable, that would at least help with distracted driver syndrome.

On the highway, you can’t help but notice all the cars that weave in and out while speeding. Why are you in such a hurry that that you’re risking your life just to get somewhere two minutes earlier?  Of course, these drivers are also risking the lives of others, but you would think they’d consider their own self-preservation at least. As I said before, some people just think they are immortal.

We are also cautioned to look out for motorcycles, but this works both ways. Motorcyclists especially need good driving skills since they are at a much higher risk of injury or death in an accident. The worst example I’ve seen of reckless bikers was a group of four motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed on the approach to the Braga Bridge. We didn’t see any mangled wrecks on the other side of the bridge so they were lucky that time. But you can’t rely on luck alone when driving.

Moving on from bad drivers and speaking of insurance, what is going to happen when so many thousands of houses, cars, and other property fall victim to floods/landslides or wildfires? Some big insurance companies such as Farmers, State Farm, and Allstate are not writing new policies in California due to wildfire losses. (Shouldn’t they change the name to NotAllstates?)

Things that are hard to avoid thinking about: The excessive and unrelenting heat (over 110) in the Southwest. (In my view Phoenix and Las Vegas should have remained small towns. The middle of the desert is no place for a megacity.) Smoke from wildfires in Canada drifting over a huge swath of North America, turning the air a sickening dirty orange color. (Good thing we still have a supply of masks on hand.) Ocean temperatures off the Florida Keys that are the same as a hot tub, around 100 degrees, killing off coral reefs and other vital marine life. Horrendous heat, drought, and wildfires around the Mediterranean. Summer rains that turn into deluges, causing flash floods in various places all over the world, while other places suffer from water shortages. What’s truly scary is that this grim scenario was previously predicted to begin in the 2030’s or later, yet here we are. These concerns don’t make for fun beach reading but we can’t bury our heads in the sand. The sand is too hot anyway.

New England is considered one of the safer places to live and I’m glad we live here, though the flash floods in Vermont this July were alarming. Anyone who doesn’t think the weather has become more extreme this year must be hiding in their basement, unless they have water there already.


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