Putting the Brakes on Fatalities is a journey not just a destination. Ironically, many people journey to a destination. During my years as a law enforcement officer I have witnessed numerous crashes when drivers neglected precautionary measures that prevented them from reaching their physical destination.
Many years ago, I spent one typical hot summer training as a recruit state trooper in Wichita, Kansas. During this time a good friend, a state trooper, was involved in a horrific two-vehicle, head-on crash. The incident took place on a local two-lane roadway. My friend was patrolling southbound at 55 mph (the legal speed limit) in his marked state trooper vehicle. Unfortunately, he encountered a pick-up truck traveling northbound but in the same lane. The pick-up was attempting to pass another northbound vehicle at the crest of the hill at a speed greater than 55 mph. My friend attempted to brake and veer to the right shoulder to avoid the crash. Eventually the two vehicles collided and ended with one fatality. Investigators of the crash estimated the combined impact speed of the two vehicles was no less than 110 mph.
Opportunely, my friend survived the crash with only a scratch above his eye, a bruised shin and one overnight stay in the hospital for medical observations. The patrol vehicle was a total loss with only the right tail light undamaged. My friend’s survival was greatly attributed to using his seat belt conversely, the other driver lost his life as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol and not wearing his seat belt.
I am confident this crash could have been avoided if the one driver had used good judgment by not driving under the influence. Some drivers neglect preventive measures due to the wrong attitude. The right attitude is everything when operating a vehicle safely.
Herman T. Jones is the Shawnee County Sheriff