Driving by Deadly Reminders

I was just a couple weeks past my sixteenth birthday and taking a final “drive” with my driving instructor when I came around a bend and met a log truck head-on. He was in a no-pass zone attempting to get around a slow-moving car. It was one of those split-second moves that ended well. My instructor had a new story to tell and I had my first close encounter behind the wheel.

Living in the land of log trucks, my two teens repeatedly heard my drive safe mantra. And I supplemented it with continual prayers for their protection. Getting to school each day meant a two-lane road with variations of rain, fog, snow, black ice, deer, and deadly curves.

Travelers on Highway 112 pass by former accident scenes memorialized with small white crosses and adorned with colorful plastic flowers. Glancing at those sad landmarks reminds me that some stories ended too soon while loved ones had to find a way to continue on—but with lives that were forever changed.

Each year another batch of teens are handed the keys to the car. I think of this as I pass by a swampy wetland where another white cross marks the place where a teen driver lost her life on the way to school. Further east, I recall the four crosses where a beautiful young mother and her three small children all perished in a car inferno caused by icy roads and a log truck in the right place at the wrong time.  

Within the next mile are three more crosses. Tragedies with every one I see. Life stories with an ending no one wants to write—or read about.

I know I’ve been cavalier behind the wheel.  I don’t think about potential accidents. Yet when I see one of those crosses I’m reminded that driving is a full-time activity—not to be shared with texting or other random acts—like writing lists—as I’m prone to do.  I owe it to those I love, to drive with care—and if others could do the same, maybe there won’t be any new crosses on my stretch of the highway this year. And may you be safe on your stretch of the road too.

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