If you’re an artist whose work involves travel, your livelihood carries a risk many don’t think of—road hazards. Distracted drivers, debris on the road, and weather conditions are a given. Something I never thought much about until I started traveling with the band involves a hazard that’s hard to dodge. Flying tires.
Just this week a 21 year old Tulane University student, Margaret Maurer, died when an 18-wheeler lost two tires:
“Margaret Maurer, a student at Tulane University in New Orleans, was traveling eastbound on I-10 with friends when the group stopped for a restroom break at a rest stop in Jackson County, just west of the Pascagoula River Bridge.
According to Gautier Police, Margaret and her two friends were about to get back into their vehicle when two tires on an 18-wheeler broke free from the rig, which was traveling westbound at the time. The dual-wheels rolled through the eastbound lanes and into the rest stop on the south side of the interstate, striking Margaret.”
Have you ever thought about something like that happening when you stop at a rest stop? I haven’t. I have had a personal experience that scared the wits out of me though.
Rebecca and I were traveling on the interstate to an event roughly 45 minutes from my house. One minute we were just cruising and talking about business and the next minute Rebecca was forced into a game of bumper cars. Or more specifically, bumper tires. She suddenly cut the car to the left, coming perilously close to the car in the lane to our left. Over the next few seconds, she played dodge ball with a huge tire that had flown off a truck in the lane to the right of us.
It was over in seconds. Her alertness and driving skills saved our lives. I watched in the side mirror as other drivers dodged that huge tire. The truck driver never even slowed his speed. It was truly a miracle that no one crashed because traffic was very heavy.
If you work in the music business, chances are you travel fairly frequently. With time you realize just how many hazards there are. News sites are full of stories about people getting killed suddenly—a mother of three, expecting another child, killed when the brake drum from a semi came loose, bounced around the highway, and crashed through her windshield.
If you do a simple search using a string of words such as people killed in car crashes, you’ll be amazed at the circumstances that take the lives of innocents. The website for the magazine Insurance Journal reported that more than 40,000 people died on US roads in 2016 and 2017.
Crashes aren’t confined to the interstate. Daily we hear news of crashes around our city. When I’m riding as a passenger, I look at other drivers. It’s common now for people to hold their phone up to read texts when they drive. You can spot these folks even from a distance, because they drive erratically, sometimes veering into another lane or sitting through a stoplight.
When Rebecca decided to go into the music business, I didn’t even think about the perils of travel. Having served as her roadie very frequently, I certainly think about those perils now. Responsible driving is something we should ask of all drivers, if not for the safety of our loved ones, for the wellbeing of our wallets.
“About one in eight drivers on the road in 2015 was uninsured, according to the latest data from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The nationwide uninsured motorist (UM) rate increased from 12.3 percent in 2010 to 13 percent in 2015. Uninsured motorist rates varied substantially among individual states, ranging from 4.5 percent in Maine to 26.7 percent in Florida.”
Those stats definitely don’t serve to comfort.
When we were teaching our daughters to drive, I always reminded them of a maxim I came up with. When you’re behind the wheel, drive like everyone on the road is trying to kill you. Conditions are worse now than they were then. The maxim holds.
(Kay B. Day/March 8, 2019)