The Safety Of Yellow Paint
Separating all of us from death in a head-on collision is… six inches of yellow paint.
Future generations will look back in disbelief. They will be unable to comprehend that not so long ago, real-life, otherwise- intelligent adults drove 5,000-pound vehicles along narrow roads, separated from oncoming drivers by only six inches of yellow paint. Look down to get your drink or grab your phone, and you wipe out an entire family before you glance back up. Future generations will consider this the Barbarian Age of driving. I am writing a book about injury law practice and this subject is a big part of it.
Historically, many cities were built for carriage traffic. Horse-drawn carriages, not the modern horse-less carriages. We drive 300-horsepower vehicles down streets designed for trotting. Over a hundred people die every day from wrecks, many in big cities where cars intersect all the time. I do not think people really understand that dotted lines in the middle of the road control cars’ direction very little. We all drive cars and don’t even think about it. We are much closer to death at any moment than we realize. Never would we allow two planes to fly so close together! A small Cessna doesn’t fly much faster than a top sports car drives. But can you imagine flying two Cessna airplanes, in opposing directions, about six inches apart?
The Blue Angels stunt team doesn’t even fly them that close. Yet we do it every day on the ground. This is why the most dangerous part of an international airplane flight is driving between your home and the airport. Statistically, the flight is nowhere near as perilous as the drive—hard as that is to believe. According to NBC news, “Your chances of being involved in an aircraft accident are approximately 1 in 11 million. Your chances of being killed in an automobile accident are 1 in 5000. The most dangerous part of your flight is the drive to the airport.” The most dangerous part of an international airplane flight is driving between your home and the airport. The only reason that we don’t freak out about the dangers of driving every single day is because we’re so used to it. If you tried to introduce the concept all at once to a safety-conscious culture, they would never accept it.
Imagine a culture on an island somewhere who had never advanced further than the bicycle. You come in and say: “Here’s what we are going to do. We will put you in 5,000-pound vehicles with top speeds of 120 miles per hour. Then you will drive up and down the road. It will be so convenient! The seats are comfortable—you might be tempted to sleep if you feel drowsy. You will eat and drink in the cars. You’ll make phone calls and check your texts. You will look at maps. You will drop stuff and try to pick it up. You will adjust the radio. You will talk to your passengers. All in all, distractions will abound. Everyone will be doing these things. Oh, and half of them will be driving in the opposite direction. But don’t worry—we will separate you from them with a little 6-inch-wide stripe of yellow paint.”
They would never accept the idea. But we have grown accustomed to the dangers, and thus we accept them without thinking.
It’s like Tylenol. The main ingredient in Tylenol—acetaminophen—has been linked to liver failure. At least one paper has argued that Tylenol would not be approved by the FDA if it were submitted today as a brand-new medication. But Tylenol is so ingrained in our culture that we never think, “Could there be a better way?” So with cars.
Mr. Peel seeks justice for those injured in motorcycle, truck and car accidents, disability and medical malpractice. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Mr. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.