Monday, October 22, 2012

A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage

I wasn't going to write tonight, but I ran across this article with this very apt name describing what I also believe, that there is A Strange Indifference to Highway Carnage.

Since Dustin's death, I've developed hyper-sensitivity regarding traffic collisions. I search them out (especially hit-and-runs and drunk driving) and research them (what happened, what is public opinion, what eventually happened) and also research the statistics. 33,883 traffic deaths in 2009, over 2 million injuries. Almost 93 fatalities per day!

That's outrageous and yet most people don't even notice. They see the news article, they're horrified for a few seconds, and then they forget about it. I do truly believe it's the "it can't happen to me" mentality. I know, I used to have that mentality. I had that mentality so strongly that even with the chaplain at the front door at 5:00 a.m. asking if I was related to Dustin Finney, the thought that something really horrendous had happened didn't cross my mind. He actually had to say the words, those horrible, life-changing words, before I had an inkling that "it had happened to me"... more specifically, it had happened to Dustin, my child and a young man in the prime of his life.

One of the most unexpected and devastating changes in my life now is that since I know it can happen to me, I'm waiting for it to happen again. And I say this is devastating because I used to be a trusting person and I no longer am. I used to be a "go with the flow" type of person and I no longer am. My very thoughts and behaviors have changed. I didn't just lose Dustin, I lost myself and am now living with a stranger. So is my new husband who did not marry the woman he thought he was marrying.

I mentioned looking into public opinion earlier. That is because after Dustin was struck directly from behind at probably 50-60 miles per hour by a driver who then side-swiped another bicyclist and sped away, both Dustin and Kevin were blamed by some people for what happened. Just because they were on bicycles. A drunk driver overshoots a corner 3 blocks back, drives down the bike lane, hits two people riding bikes equipped with front and rear lights, leaves them dead and injured in the road like they were just garbage, and people blamed the victims. I was astounded, hurt, infuriated. And hugely protective toward Dustin and Kevin.

In my research, I've discovered this "blame the victim" attitude is not uncommon at all. That's part of why this blog is important to me because suffering that blame was a totally unexpected part of this tragedy and I want others to know it happens. I guess some people just think the survivors don't have enough to go through already.

Another thing you see in public reaction is humor or joking. One time I made a comment online about the inappropriateness of joking after a tragedy such as this and someone replied that they had to do it because of the people who just take it all too seriously. I admitted that yes, I did take it seriously, RIP Dustin Finney.

So, there is a strange indifference to highway carnage. Highway, rural route, residential road, urban street, no matter where this carnage happens, it's all met with waaayyy more indifference than you'd think. I truly hope that other people don't have to learn that there's a reason to care the same way I did: the hard way.

Drive safe. Really. No one else is looking out for you or your loved ones.

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