Sitting in my driveway directly next to my rust bucket is my daughter-in-law's vehicle. Both vehicles are gray, and very similar in shape if you don't look too closely. The biggest difference is the shape of her rear quarter panel, bumper and trunk hood. It's been smushed in by a mishap involving a guard rail. I know smushed isn't a word, but it describes the appearance of a damaged rear end being held together by duct tape as good as any real word. Better, actually.
Driving around here in the past two weeks has been interesting to say the least. I manage it by slowing myself down to 30 or so miles per hour. At that speed I can see the slushy mess that is lying in wait for me and take steps to correct the fishtailing the vehicle likes to do when driving through it. Slow speed skids are easier to correct than those that take place at 55 miles per hour. Snow tires rather than the more popular "All Season" tires help a lot too.
Anyways, her car is damaged, she's refusing to drive it, needs to drive to work so Hub has switched vehicles with her and she's taken his pick up truck while he uses her wreck. Once Spring rolls in he's going to repair her vehicle and keep it. Youngest is on the hunt for a new vehicle for his wife. I'm resisting the inclination to suggest he find an armored car or tank for her, this is the third vehicle she's damaged in 9 years. It's, of course, always the fault of something else, road conditions, deer and the lady that wouldn't get out of her way at the stop light. That accident went unreported since the lady that got rear ended actually left the scene. Possibly driving without a license? Maybe had a few too many brews? Who knows?
Back in the 1960s when I learned to drive, it was impressed upon us that WE, the drivers, were responsible for maintaining control of our vehicles at all times. Charges like "speed not reasonable or prudent" or "driving too fast for road conditions" were actual reasons for receiving speeding tickets which were adjudicated in court. Charges were seldom dismissed since the damage was considered proof of the charge. One paid a fine and a mark or marks were entered onto one's license. Too many of those marks resulted in revocation of one's license. Now it's "black ice" or "slushy road conditions" and nobody goes to court let alone receives a ticket. Now it's the fault of everything else rather than a failure on the part of the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
The habit of blaming has become so bad that a local school superintendent is being blamed by some of the teachers for the death of a youngster on his way to school. She chose not to delay school opening for a couple of hours until road conditions improved. This accident happened the day after 16 adults lost control of their vehicles and closed a major state highway for hours. Mind you, I drove to work both of those days on those same roads without mishap. On both days I drove those roads shortly before the accidents happened. The speed limit on those roads is 55 miles per hour. I left for work earlier to allow me the extra time the trip needed to accommodate the road conditions I knew would exist. Road conditions which would not allow me to drive at speeds much higher than 30 miles per hour and sometimes not even that fast.
You can tell me how lucky I am, or decide I lead a charmed life. I don't see it that way. I see it more as a decision to accept that actions have consequences and that there are times when those consequences can be fatal. Life doesn't have built in guarantees that accidents won't happen to me, I just want to assure myself that I have done the best I can do to avoid causing damage. Driving safely is a choice that we can make and sometimes making the choice is as simple as slowing down. We all live longer that way.