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Now airplane crashes frighten us and hurricanes do too, the nightly news - pure tragedy, that warps our point of view. Terrorists kill hostages, as Midwest cyclones rage. We've earthquakes, wars and ozone holes, teen crime and rampant AIDS. Yet everyday without a thought we slide behind the wheel. Four thousand pounds - a juggernaut of rushing, hurtling steel. We gamble with eternal chips, our lives the high stakes bet, for highway driving is the modern "RUSHIN' ROULETTE!" We place our lives in others hands, at least two times a day. Commute to work at breakneck speed, white-knuckled all the way. Five feet away in either lane, wild strangers drive possessed. Rich and poor, black and white, an integrated - MESS! A tense teenager high on hormones, speeds to push his luck. A tired teamster dozes off, in forty TONS! of truck. Cell phone drivers tailgate, just fifteen feet away, no way that they can stop in time, distracted eyes aglaze. A salesman late for his big deal, with sports car - fairly flies! While seniors squint through cataracts, and creep at forty-five. Distracted mothers swat their kids, in back seats as they swerve. Aggressive "4-bys" muscle in, to prove their macho nerves. Close calls, near misses everyday, ten million frantic races. As men knot ties and shave their chins, and women paint their faces. This greatest risk to life and limb, each day goes undetected. So commonplace, we're used to it, while some by chance selected... will crash, just hunks of twisted steel, in queues we rubberneck. Look-ee-loos to tragedy, but who thinks they'll be next? Yet forty thousand die each year, six million accidents. Which chamber holds the bullet now? Who drives with common sense? Why play the Lotto when we juggle higher stakes by far. We spin the wheel, cock the hammer, each time we drive OUR cars. Survival driving it should be known, "arrive alive, not dead." Keeping space between the nuts, with pistols to their heads. To do our best with care and skill, to drive responsibly. A challenge as we say this prayer, each time we turn the key. Now I drive my car and "BEEP!" I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I "brake," I pray the Lord my soul to take. AMEN!
I wrote this poem after six years of highway construction experience dodging the travelling public and picking up after needless crashes. How little people pay attention to the most dangerous thing they will probably ever do. Familiarity truly does breed contempt. 1998 U.S. Highway Fatalities 41,471 -- www.car-accident.org/car/stats.html 1999 U.S. Highway Fatalities 41,611 -- http://www.highwaysafety.org
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