Last week we had a brief and very local gully washer, the kind of storm that happens comparatively infrequently here in the high desert, where a given area gets an inch or two of rain in less than an hour, and it remains hot and dry everywhere except in a few square miles. During the storm, a white Ford sedan hydroplaned on the interstate and crashed into a guard rail. A Utah state highway patrolman investigated to see if anyone was hurt. Just as he approached the vehicle a late model BMW hydroplaned into the Ford which was pushed over the trooper. The trooper had to have heavy equipment and “jaws-of-life” to extricate him from the wreckage. He was life-flighted out and spent several days in intensive care. He remains, at the time I write, in serious condition, but is expected to recover, but not for months, possibly a year. Those in the vehicles suffered far less serious injuries.
The speed limit on that section of the interstate is 80 mph. What any licensed driver should know is that speed limits are set as the maximum under good conditions, not in a driving rain. Not only that, but exactly why was the driver of the BMW still driving too fast for road conditions, especially considering that it was pouring rain and a highway patrol vehicle had flashing lights on and there were stopped cars at the side of the road? And if the driver was going too fast to see all that in time… what else does that say?
That at least two drivers were idiots, and almost killed a highway patrolman, and possibly crippled him for life… because they were either too self-centered, too thoughtless, or too stupid to pay attention to the road conditions. And they not only injured him, but risked their own lives as well.
This isn’t a sometime occurrence. Virtually every time there is a rainstorm, or a snowstorm, there are accidents, often fatal ones, on I-15, because people are driving too fast for the road conditions. If these individuals only injured or killed themselves, that might be one thing, but even when no one else is injured, their deaths have impacts on spouses, children, parents, or… highway patrol officers.
Sometimes, accidents do happen, despite the driver’s best efforts, but most times, they wouldn’t happen if we didn’t do something stupid. But then, isn’t every day a challenge not to do something stupid?