My Turn: Slow down, back off on Interstate 80
July 29, 2008
The author of the My Turn column in the July 25 Sierra Sun (Taking five minutes could save a life) makes some very good points about the dangers of debris on Interstate 80 between Truckee and Reno, and very rightly notes that lives can be saved by taking just a few extra minutes to properly secure items being transported.However, the author could have made an equally salient point about driving safely between Truckee and Reno, but failed to do so. That point would be: Slow down and back off! (I could also add: hang up and drive, but thats a subject for a separate rant.)Now, I dont drive to Reno on a daily basis. At most, I make that trip once a week, and usually on the weekend, but even I have learned that any of the blind curves in I-80 can hide a massive traffic jam (or worse) just around the bend. On one occasion while driving home to Truckee, I came around a curve only to find a downed motorcyclist and his bike sprawled across my lane. Had I been doing the 75 or 80 miles per hour (or more) that is typical for most drivers on I-80, I would have had little chance of avoiding him, or could have ended up flipping my vehicle in trying to avoid him, and might easily have turned a relatively minor accident into a fatality. As it was, doing the legal 65 miles per hour allowed me enough time and maneuverability to avoid a serious situation.Police reports and insurance statistics confirm that the majority of freeway accidents are the result of excessive speed and/or inadequate distance between vehicles. The author of the My Turn column makes no reference to how fast she was traveling when she ended up flipping her vehicle. She may indeed have been driving at a safe and legal speed, but at least statistically, the likelihood is she wasnt.Even if every driver were absolutely scrupulous about securing items in their vehicles, there would still be any number of potential obstacles along this stretch of road: rocks, trees, deer, mudslides, potholes; all are common occurrences on I-80. The best way to protect yourself and others is to drive at a safe and legal speed, which might even mean reducing your speed below the legal maximum if conditions warrant.The irony is we dont save ourselves any significant amount of time by exceeding speed limits. Assuming a freeway distance of 30 miles, the difference in travel time between 75 mph and 65 mph is less than three minutes. Less than three minutes! Isnt it worth three minutes of your time to potentially avoid an accident and maybe save a life? Maybe even your own?Oh, and by the way it saves on gas, too!! Lor McLaren is a Truckee resident.