My Turn: Taking five minutes could save a life
July 25, 2008
On June 2, I came around a bend on Interstate 80 to find traffic at a standstill. Not wanting to plow into the large pickup in front of me, which would surely have caused severe damage to me and perhaps the driver of that vehicle, I slammed on my brakes and turned slightly to the left, thinking I would end up on the shoulder of the highway and next to the truck in front of me.
Not so. I skidded, hit the concrete median, did a complete flip in the air and ended up on all four wheels (thankfully). My car, of course, was destroyed. I was injured and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Fortunately, my injuries were fairly minor. But, I lost a week of work and my hospital, doctor and ambulance bills came to over $25,000.
Imagine how I felt when I found that the reason for traffic being at a standstill was a wheelbarrow in the middle of the highway! Nevada Highway Patrol was on the scene, directing traffic around the wheelbarrow and there had been an accident ahead of me caused by one vehicle rear ending another. I know these things because of eyewitness accounts. The previous accident had taken place at least 15 – 20 minutes prior to my arrival, yet there was nothing warning that traffic was stopped ahead.
I drive from Reno to Truckee daily. Each day that I drive, I see pickup trucks and/or trailers flying by me (also headed toward Truckee) with equipment teetering and bouncing around. Rarely is any of this equipment tied down.
On the very day I returned to work after my accident, there were several large tubes of insulation blowing about on I-80. These large, foil encased tubes were causing vehicles to swerve around them. These could easily have caused an accident.
A couple of weeks ago, I came upon a portable toilet on a trailer in the middle of the right hand lane of I-80 at Hirschdale. There was no vehicle in sight that might belong to the portable toilet. About a half mile up the road there were two trucks pulled over with two men at the back of one truck scratching their heads in wonder. Most likely the portable toilet belonged to one of these trucks.
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We hear stories everyday of injuries, even death, caused by debris on the highways. If the person who loaded the wheelbarrow onto his truck had taken just a few minutes to tie it down it would have prevented two accidents. The person responsible for the wheelbarrow did not suffer injuries, nor did he suffer the loss of his vehicle and the accumulation of multiple thousands of dollars in doctor bills and loss of work. He went on about his day. His only loss was that he probably had to go buy a new wheelbarrow.
Please: If you carry equipment, supplies, garbage or anything else in an open vehicle or trailer, take five minutes to make sure that everything is tied down. If you are responsible for pulling a trailer of any kind, take five minutes to make sure the trailer is properly secured to the hitch with a safety chain. Five minutes would have prevented my near tragedy. Five minutes could save a life. Surely preventing injury to another human being is worth five minutes of your time.
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