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When traffic violence hits home

Posted by on February 17th, 2021 at 10:16 am

The Maus family mini-van and the aftermath of Tuesday’s crash on the Marquam Bridge.

I follow every road authority and first responder in the region so I can stay abreast of every reported crash just in case one of them warrants more attention.

On Tuesday, one of these blips on my screen was a crash on I-5 that involved my wife and 15-year-old daughter.

They are fine. We are lucky. And now they understand their dad a bit better.

Everyone in my family knows how much traffic violence weighs on my mind when we’re in the car together. I drive slowly and carefully and I get nervous when others don’t. It’s annoying to everyone — especially my teenagers who roll their eyes and say I’m “obsessed” with safety. I can’t not be, I tell them. I’ve seen too much.

The constant stream of sad and bad news I read every day — mixed with all the stories I’ve written, the crash scenes I’ve visited, the vigils I’ve attended, and all the moms and dads and brothers and sisters of victims I’ve talked with over all these years. It has physically altered my brain.

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When my phone rang yesterday and I heard my girl say, “Dad, we were in a crash on the Marquam Bridge (I-5)” I was calm. Surprisingly so. Maybe because the tone of her voice told me I could be. But I also think — and this unsettles me still — that in some twisted way, I thought, “Yep, I knew this would happen.” The normalization of traffic violence I write and read about at work all the time has infected me so much that I didn’t even freak out when members of my own family where hit from behind at a high speed and spun-around on the top deck of a freeway bridge hundreds of feet above the Willamette River.

I was scared and worried as it sunk in. I teared up a bit when I finally got to hug them. But I can’t shake this thought: That I’ve become a robot without feelings, programmed to expect traffic violence — even when it happens to my own flesh and blood.

The system has no feelings either. With no major injuries and no police response, the system won’t know this ever happened. There will be no investigation of why this man lost control of his car, no consideration of punishment for his actions, and no consideration of how/if the infrastructure played a role.

Just another blip on the screen.

Over breakfast this morning we talked about mundane things like insurance and replacing our van. My wife brought up her disappointment that the guy who hit them never said sorry or checked to make sure they were OK. I ranted a bit about how quickly the well-oiled Auto Industrial Complex kicked into gear and how various interests will gladly profit off the crash.

And then there are nagging questions: What if they were in a smaller car? What if the other guy was in a huge SUV? What if they hit the guardrail and plunged into the river (like this horrible crash a few days ago)? What if they were more seriously injured? Or what if… I don’t even want to think about that.

What I can and will think about are questions I grappled with long before my daughter’s phone call, but that carry even sharper edges today: What if we made it more normal to reject this violent epidemic rather than to accept it? How many lives could we save if we did that? How many lives are acceptable to sacrifice? How many lives in your own family are you willing to sacrifice?

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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CaptainKarma
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CaptainKarma

Before the pandemic, I was ramping up on train and bus riding, counting on the laws of physics to help me survive better. Hope we can return to that sooner than later.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Glad you guys are ok.

PTB
Guest
PTB

The dude in the red BMW wasn’t remorseful or concerned for the well being of others?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I am shocked. Shocked I tell you.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Regarding the attitude of the other driver – I think it’s more of an overarching Societal thing than strictly a driver thing. Back in the day when I was considering a PhD (30 years ag0), the idea I had for a thesis was to apply Socio-biological concepts to Urban Planning to see if our land use planning methods (especially zoning) had contributed to a change in individual values and societal Ethos. Like “have we gotten more selfish/less empathetic as a result of less direct contact with others as a result of zoning policies”.

Despite not going that route, I think I know what my conclusion would have been.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

As I age I have gradually stopped believing in the crap that I used to believe in when I was in school working on my planning degree in my 20s. Instead, I now believe in lots of other crap.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Ye, me too. And most of what I see keeps pointing back to the issue that our normal behavior is that we are inherently selfish Apes acting in our own best interests.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Actually I’ve gotten more interested in pushing items in the public interest as I’ve gotten older, especially after the age of 30, rather than those related to my personal self-interest – I find it more satisfying if I have success in my advocacy of course, but even honorable failure has its allure.

SERider
Guest
SERider

Agreed. I think (hope?) I’ve become a lot less selfish and self-centered than I was in my 20s. Volunteer way more now than I did then.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Ah, but no doubt you probably get some sense of value or worth out of it…so still a selfish (albeit good) behavior. Not all selfish behavior is deleterious…and some can in fact benefit others.

I like growing tomatoes – more than I can ever eat. I like the process and I like giving them away because it makes me feel good. It’s still selfish.

Matt
Guest
Matt

A car looking just like that one passed me, at high speed, across a double yellow line, on Holgate Blvd a couple months ago. I guess he took exception to my driving at the speed limit of 25 mph. Pretty uncommon car, so I strongly suspect this is the same car with the same idiot driver. I should really get a dashcam…

bendite
Guest
bendite

As a BMW owner myself, I’m here to right the wrongs of past BMW drivers.

Ted
Guest
Ted

Glad everyone is ok. Most insurers recommend not saying anything that would be an admission of fault (e.g., “I’m sorry”), but everyone should check to make sure everyone else is ok.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Not admitting fault when you know you are at fault still makes you a bad person. Any amount of BS that you or your insurance company puts a victim through is your fault at that point. Completely unethical and it’s so frustrating that it has somehow become culturally acceptable to lie and deceive.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The same could be said for admitting guilt when you committed a crime. By pleading “not guilty” you are icing your criminality cake with a thick layer of being a bad person frosting.

What this society needs is better people and different kinds of cake.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

We are in agreement. There is a profound lack of personal integrity nowadays.

You know my sentiments about hit-and-run drivers – they are the worst of the worst.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

You obviously have never been in a serious automobile crash. I was a Private Investigator and an Insurance Claims Adjustor. When a person is in a major hit, he/she most of the time has no idea what the heck happened. It is amazing the chain of events that are involved in most accidents. Also, people are traumatized. Checking to see if others are OK, sure, but apologizing when you don’t know what happened is asking a bit much. Judge not…..

qqq
Guest
qqq

But Chris wrote, “Not admitting fault WHEN YOU KNOW you are at fault…”, which is a different situation than when someone really doesn’t know what happened.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

He could not possibly ‘know’ what the other guy knew.

qqq
Guest
qqq

He didn’t say he did. I took it as a general statement about people who do know, which is exactly how he wrote it.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Like qqq said, Chris I assumed nothing of anybody, but instead posed a hypothetical situation.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This was not a serious automobile crash. You’re inventing things to be mad about here.

Lazy Spinner
Guest
Lazy Spinner

First off, I am genuinely happy to hear that your wife and daughter are fine following this unfortunate incident. Objects are replaceable, the other driver’s insurance will be paying for any damages based on the photos, and the truly important treasures in your life are still in your life.

This is clearly an upsetting experience for you. I submit that your reaction when your daughter called was both appropriate and mature. That is not robotic nor cold. It is a rational response. You were being strong, calm, level headed, and ready to offer assistance and comfort to your family in a crisis. That is far superior to having an emotional meltdown and potentially escalating any fears being experienced on the other end of that call. I also commend your young daughter for her apparent cool reserve in that moment.

I will respectfully take umbrage with a couple of things. I know that you abhor the term “accident”, but “traffic violence” is an unnecessarily inflammatory phrase without evidence or context. Nothing in your account suggests malice or gross negligence on the part of the other driver. He most assuredly made mistakes but, the phrase makes this seem like a pre-meditated act targeting your loved ones. I agree with you that serious steps must be taken to make our roads safer however, I am as uncomfortable with the usage of this phrase just as I would be with someone labeling a protest as a “violent riot” because a lone individual tagged a building or threw an object at police. It doesn’t help the situation and just galvanizes people into entrenched factions unwilling to speak to the other side. Bike Portland has always been a great place to exchange ideas and respectfully debate policies. This turns it into Fox News and characterizes an unfortunate non-injury traffic incident as a sinister assault on bicycles, alternative transportation, and families.

This also leads me to your commentary regarding the Auto Industrial Complex and your notion that it is some unfeeling monster spreading an epidemic of violence. My goodness! That sounds like the rantings of a collegiate freshman in the midst of their first political science class. Again, I feel that this is unnecessarily divisive. Auto manufacturing and auto insurance are industries with business models. Law enforcement and government transportation agencies are bureaucracies concerned with meeting their charter obligations. Both, by their very natures, are amoral. They are not in the business of good vs. evil. They are simply trying to meet their respective missions of profitability, accountability, and progress. How they operate is certainly open to debate and that debate should be engaged. Do you really think that someone sits in an office at BMW designing ways to make cars deadlier? That teams working at PBOT, ODOT, and the federal DOT scheme to create more traffic fatalities and injuries? That is an absurd notion! We all want positive change to come faster than it does but, there is no cabal of ghouls at these companies and agencies rooting for more death and property damage.

Nothing is or will ever be 100% safe. We can certainly try to lessen the bad odds through better behaviors and policies but, our world is chock full of random events beyond our control. You are right to be concerned and even a bit frightened, Jonathan. You also see more destruction than the average person in your line of work. Just don’t become so wrapped up in “what ifs?” and fear that you lose perspective. Don’t marginalize your own work and advocacy with emotionally charged buzzwords and phrases that are off putting to those people we need to bring to our side. Remember “Defund the Police”? Many of us knew exactly what that meant – reallocate resources for mental health intervention, stop sending untrained cops to mental health crisis calls. To the less aware public and, thanks to demagogues, that became defined as “firing cops for no good reason”. Words matter but, painting the act of driving as a perpetration of violence and entire industries as inherently evil only delays positive progress and threatens to make potential allies into sworn enemies.

Bikeninja
Guest
Bikeninja

I would agree with Jonathan that the words “Traffic Violence” is appropriate. This is based on what I will define as a baseline for safety. In the world of workplace safety the owner of the workplace is expected to provide a situation where only examples of extreme negligence or malicious intent will create significant injuries. So a dangerous press must have a safety door that prevents it from operating when someones hands are inside.It must keep them safe weather they are careful or not. When our current system of automobile transportation evolved we decided ( or choose to ignore) such a “safety first” rational and instead went with a system that relies on a very delicate balance of control and care where the slightest gap in attention, or a wrong move can lead to injury or death to the person involved and others on the road. If our current system of roads, intersections and traffic laws were scrutinized ,in the same way a workplace is during an inspection, the entire thing would be closed down and the owner would not only be fined but would probably go to prison for negligence and endangerment. We only view the current system as ok ( or non-violent) because it has been normalized by society, but that does not make it sensible or neutral. If one was to go back in time and ask a citizen of 1890’s Paris, or Elizabethan London, or Feudal Japan if they thought of a future, where if they crossed a road without careful scrutiny of the situation in both directions they could be killed instantly by a stranger with little or no recourse, that such a thing would be ok, or civilized they would be horrified. The worst part is that we have so spread and enshrined this system so that it has become what Ivan Illich termed.” a radical monopoly.” Which means that users are excluded from society without access to its product. So while it seems shocking to some to call this “radical monopoly” of death and destruction “violent” it is the only way to pull back the curtains and view things as they really are.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Ah, the good old days.

Our current system of automobile transportation evolved from an even more dangerous and hazardous one. Anyone living in a large urban area in the 1890s would have faced the same danger from crossing streets as we do today, but they would no doubt marvel at how easy, fast, cheap, and safe it has become to travel even long distances.

https://www.accessmagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2016/07/Access-30-02-Horse-Power.pdf

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

I sure wouldn’t want to be run over by a horse and buggy! Those horse shoes are deadly!
{disclaimer}
No offence to any horses out there.
{/disclaimer}

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Great article!

Horses killed in other, more direct ways as well. As difficult as it may be to believe given their low speeds, horse-drawn vehicles were far deadlier than their modern counterparts. In New York in 1900, 200 persons were killed by horses and horse-drawn vehicles. This contrasts with 344 auto-related fatalities in New York in 2003; given the modern city’s greater population, this means the fatality rate per capita in the horse era was roughly 75 percent higher than today. Data from Chicago show that in 1916 there were 16.9 horse-related fatalities for each 10,000 horse-drawn vehicles; this is nearly seven times the city’s fatality rate per auto in 1997.

The reason is that horse-drawn vehicles have an engine with a mind of its own. The skittishness of horses added a dangerous level of unpredictability to nineteenth-century transportation. This was particularly true in a bustling urban environment, full of surprises that could shock and spook the animals. Horses often stampeded, but a more common danger came from horses kicking, biting, or trampling bystanders. Children were particularly at risk.

Now imagine if robot cars using AI became a bit like horses…

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Thank goodness we got automobiles to replace those dangerous polluting horses . . . oh wait a minute . . .

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The pollution from horses was awful; both from the obvious sources, which attracted flies, got on peoples’ clothes, and got in the air after it dried, and also from all the dead horses that were left on the street. Read the article I linked above.

Fred
Guest
Fred

I vote for Bikeninja to get the comment of the week. The rest of you who are trying to draw a false equivalence between horses and modern automobiles are engaging in a kind of dangerous horseplay.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I did not mean to draw an equivalence; I am saying modern cars are much better from a safety and localized pollution standpoint.

SERider
Guest
SERider

Not a false equivalence, we’re saying that the thing bikeninja described; “If one was to go back in time and ask a citizen of 1890’s Paris, or Elizabethan London, or Feudal Japan if they thought of a future, where if they crossed a road without careful scrutiny of the situation in both directions they could be killed instantly by a stranger with little or no recourse, that such a thing would be ok, or civilized they would be horrified.”
DID happen often in the 1890’s.

SERider
Guest
SERider

Agreed. I don’t want to downplay issues with auto transport, but there have always been dangers in transportation:

“It concludes that the dangers of automobile use are substantially lower than the dangers posed by early horse-driven and steam-driven transportation methods, especially in terms of fatalities per mile. It finds that on a per-mile or per-trip basis, automobile travel is safer than virtually any other means of travel used popularly in U.S. history, and that the other contributions of automobile transportation have been seriously overlooked by transportation scholars.”

https://www.jstor.org/stable/27739679?seq=1

soren
Guest
soren

“automobile travel is safer than virtually any other means of travel used popularly in U.S. history”

“per mile … basis”

i guess that buses, trains, airplanes, and passenger/ferry boats are not “popular” enough to displace the auto-supremacy of the car — erm, sorry — SUV.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“I know that you abhor the term “accident”, but “traffic violence” is an unnecessarily inflammatory phrase without evidence or context. Nothing in your account suggests malice or gross negligence on the part of the other driver.”

Those two sentences make no sense together. “Violence” doesn’t need malice or negligence to be violence. You can “cough violently”.

I’m fine with “traffic violence”, because crashes–including ones not caused intentionally–are often extremely violent. People don’t typically see or read about that level of violence or destruction happening in other areas of daily life.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

If I accidentally knock you through an open window, your fall might be violent, but I have not committed violence. If I push you, I have. Intention matters in this context. (Referring to either as “window violence” would sound as silly as “traffic violence” does to the unindoctrinated.)

“Traffic violence” is, at best, misleading. We have a much better word at our disposal.

qqq
Guest
qqq

If we all knew people who’d died or been injured by falling from windows (whether thrown out intentionally, knocked by accident, or tripping) and we read every day about people being killed or receiving horrible injuries from the force of hitting the ground so hard that their bones were shattered and organs crushed, “window violence” would be a perfectly reasonable term.

qqq
Guest
qqq

If you accidentally knock me through the window by gently knocking me off balance, I wouldn’t say that was a violent knock. If you accidently knocked me through it by ramming into me so hard (say while playing a sport in a gym) that you knocked me off my feet and I hurtled through the air ten or thirty feet and hit a tempered glass window so hard my body shattered it, I would say it was a violent hit, even though you didn’t intent to hit me.

Standard definitions of “violence” support that. And my example of the violent hit is typical of the force involved when a vehicle hits somebody or something.

SERider
Guest
SERider

Definition of violence:
“behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.”

“Intended” implies there is motive.

qqq
Guest
qqq

You took just one meaning of it. Other meanings don’t require motive:
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/violence

For instance: “3a: intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force”

SERider
Guest
SERider

And that’s the problem with something that has multiple means; people interpret it how they want. “violence” is a fairly loaded term.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I would argue that its “loadedness” is exactly the word’s appeal.

SERider
Guest
SERider

I guess, but if you’re claiming to be a “big tent” person and wanting to get people to join your cause and get out of their cars I don’t think calling something they do every day “inherently violent” (which implies to many that they’re a bad person) is going to do a good job in recruitment.

marisheba
Guest
marisheba

There are two definitions of “violent”. One explicitly involves intention, the other simply refers to something being vigorous or destrictive, without reference to intent. For whatever reason, contemporary English has evolved such that when we just talke about “violence” in a general way, we are always talking about the version that involves intention (I actually think one or two hundred years ago this wasn’t the case, and violence/violent were more commonly used over a wider range of applications than they are today).

You can’t cite the correct use of “violent” in its non-intentional context (“crashes are often extremely violent”, true–and important!) to advocuate for the incorrect usage of “traffic violence” which implies definition that includes intentionality to the typical reader. It’s misleading and also just confusing.

If you refer to any basic dictionary, you’ll see the distinction in the two definitions.

mran1984
Guest

Damn, that was refreshing. Too bad it’s not going to much in this case. This was not violence, but that would not serve JM’s purpose.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Jonathan –
How many lives of your own family are you willing to sacrifice to the Auto Industrial Complex? You just purchased a third vehicle if I remember correctly.
One could argue that if you, or anyone in your household, uses a road (whether on foot, bicycle, mass transit or automobile), you are willing to sacrifice yourself or that family member.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Aaaaand here’s our Progressive Purity Test! Not all that different than the Evangelicals – just different values to focus on.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“One could argue that if you, or anyone in your household, uses a road (whether on foot, bicycle, mass transit or automobile), you are willing to sacrifice yourself or that family member.”

One could argue that that’s silly, because the only way to avoid that would be to never leave home.

Marco A
Guest
Marco A

Driving “absurdly slowly” is actually dangerous. It disrupts the normal flow of traffic.

Phil M
Guest
Phil M

It seems traffic violence is out there in all forms. Here is a tragic case of bicycle violence.

https://nyc.streetsblog.org/2019/10/31/medical-examiner-pedestrian-hit-by-cyclist-died-from-complications/

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

You found one death from 2 years ago? Clearly a pandemic.

D'Andre Muhammed
Guest
D'Andre Muhammed

Well whether the death occurred yesterday or two years ago it’s pretty sad. I know there are others, I remember one where some fool was playing with Strava? I guess the point is are we willing to pin the word “violence” on all forms of transportation or just the ones we don’t like?

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s a poor attempt at whataboutism. I’m am significantly more saddened by the 40,000+ people killed by motor vehicle drivers EVERY YEAR in this country.

The number of pedestrians killed by cyclists every year is so small that it isn’t even a rounding error in our total vehicle deaths. Any time/funding spent to address it would save more lives if it were instead used to address motor vehicle violence.

Phil M
Guest
Phil M

Chris, you are a true hero. What are YOU doing to reduce vehicular VIOLENCE?

Ed Birnbaum
Guest
Ed Birnbaum

I’m so glad they’re OK, Jonathan.

hamiramani
Subscriber

Jonathan, thank you for sharing this; I know it was probably not easy to do.

rh
Guest
rh

Glad everyone is okay and it sounds like the other driver had insurance (or maybe you have uninsured motorist coverage).

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Glad they are safe.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Glad no one was seriously injured, but your wife and daughter might be injured and not know it. They absolutely MUST go and get examined within a few days of the crash. Adrenaline initially masks the pain of neck injuries, and you may not feel it for several days.

Fortunately the separation of vertebrae is very easy to see on an X-ray, and easy to diagnose objectively. A qualified osteopath or chiropractor also knows exactly where to palpate to detect sensitivity where the victims might not have noticed. Both your and the other driver’s insurance companies may try to get you to sign something in a couple of weeks saying there were no injuries, in order to close off any liability. They know what they’re doing, so don’t do it unless you’re absolutely sure that’s the case, and your loved ones can’t be sure at this stage without an exam. They might be fine, but you won’t know until you know. Having them checked out this week is not optional.

I’ve been rear-ended (in cars) twice, in crashes that caused about the same amount of visible damage to the vehicles as in your wife’s case. I didn’t feel any pain at all for the first couple days, and then my neck started to hurt. Two weeks after each crash, the pain was worse than a week after the crash. In both cases I ended up having to have treatments several times a year for months (which took a huge chunk out of my schedule) and refrain from aggressive physical activity (including mountain biking, and paved rides longer than 30-60 minutes) for around a year.

Spinal injuries are insidious. I was skeptical of these types of injuries until they happened to me, and have since learned that the soft tissues around your spine don’t heal on the same timeline that we’re used to for other kinds of injuries. It was 2-3 years before I could do physical work above my head (like cutting tree branches, painting ceilings, even changing light bulbs) without minor pain in my neck that would last for minutes or even hours afterwards. More than 15+ years later, I can do almost all the activities I could do before (except lie on the couch to watch TV), but you’re never 100% the same again. Take this seriously.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

One more thing about the severity of the crash. Massive crashes engage airbags and crumple zones that are designed to absorb severe impacts, and we’ve all heard stories of people who’ve walked away from high-speed collisions that would have killed all the occupants in the cars of 50 years ago. But a crumple zone which can absorb a 50 mph impact isn’t going to crumple much in a 10-20 mph impact, and airbags may not deploy (or may deploy, and hit the body with more force than the crash itself). Minor collisions can expose the body to nearly as much force as more severe ones.

This reminds me that I fibbed a little bit above, when I said that the crashes I was in caused about the same amount of visible vehicle damage as your wife’s. Actually, the first one was a lot less visibly damaging: the hatch on my Civic was bent (because the offending vehicle’s bumper was higher than mine), and the 5500-pound Tahoe (!) that hit me barely had a scratch on its bumper.

So I know the answer to your question about what if the other driver was in a a huge SUV. The answer is not good: my little Civic absorbed 70% of the impact. And I can tell you, even though I’ve fallen skiing and mountain biking countless times, that was the single most violent blow my body has ever experienced.

But you know what would be worse than a huge SUV? Most full-sized pickups. Especially the heavy-duty and super-duty (F-250 and up) pickups which are far too prevalent on Portland roads. These weigh over 7000 pounds, and sometimes 9000 – twice your Odyssey. It’s disgusting to me that people should be allowed to drive those things around every day without special training, precisely because of the danger that all that hurtling mass poses to others.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Every time you see a headline in the local news about a death on some rural road, you can generally assume that a massive pickup vs. smaller vehicle is involved. They are absolutely making our roads more dangerous.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

They absolutely should require another level of licensing.

EP
Guest
EP

A couple key things in pickup vs other vehicle crashes:

-Pickup bumper height is above that of most other vehicles, allowing it to go up and over the smaller vehicles bumper/side door beams and greater intrude into/onto the passenger compartment and hurt people.
-Pickups are body on frame construction, so the impact to another vehicle is from the bumper tied to a massive frame holding everything else, and not designed to crumple much. The pickup body may deform, but likely only to protect its occupants. Most other vehicles are unibody construction, so the whole vehicle absorbs crashes and is designed with numerous crumple zones to absorb impact.
-Add in the big difference in mass, and the pickup deals a huge blow to anything it hits.

When people say big trucks are fine, and a personal choice, freedom, etc. I ask them, “You’re in a car and a driver runs a stop sign and hits you. What type of vehicle would you want them to be driving?”

Time to get rid of the heavy duty vehicle loophole that has allowed pickups to morph from slow utility vehicles into deadly fast commuter fortresses.

ralph
Guest
ralph

Close calls make most of us think and rethink what’s true, what’s important. I’m glad your family is OK.

Steve
Guest

My power went out over the past several days due to “Weather violence”.

All joking aside, I’m glad your family is ok.

Phil M
Guest
Phil M

It’s all senstionalism.

damiene
Subscriber
damiene

For all the word lawyering, I’m surprised nobody just looked up “violence” in the dictionary.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/violence

1a : the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy

I’m assuming this is the one most are hanging their hat on. The “so as to” implies intent, sure.

But wait, there’s more:

3a : intense, turbulent, or furious and often destructive action or force
//the violence of the storm

I would say this fits very well in this situation, as well as other violent traffic incidents.

SERider
Guest
SERider

If you were saying the “violence of the crash” yes that second definition would be reasonable.

PS
Guest
PS

Nobody is disputing that you can have a violent traffic crash, the leap to just driving being an inherently violent act is where there is an issue. Traffic is not inherently violent, because none of those things happen during normal traffic, so just driving cannot be participating in a violent act. If that was the case, riding a bike would be a violent act and so would running, because if either participant was to hit a stationary object the result would be a violent crash.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I don’t know if I’d call driving “inherently violent” or not, either, but I don’t agree with your arguments. Violent crashes DO happen in “normal driving” if you define normal as the driving that’s happening every day, versus what would happen if everyone drove correctly all the time. As Jonathan said, ones like this one that certainly are violent–in terms of knocking tons of steel around and often injuring people–don’t even make the news.

In terms of calling bike riding or running violent because of the possibility of a violent crash, how often do those happen compared to vehicle crashes? Almost never. Significant vehicle crashes happen several times per day here.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Crashing is not a normal outcome of driving (and if it is for you, please give your keys to a friend!). Yes, crashes happen every day, but in the context of hundreds of millions of uneventful trips daily, it’s hard to say they are typical or even common. Crashes do happen, but for most of us they are rare events.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I agree, they’re not “normal” for each person, or for each mile driven. But they’re normal in the sense (as I said) that several happen every day here, with several people being killed each month. And they certainly happen more frequently than bikes and runners hitting stationary objects hard enough to be a “violent” crash, per the comment I was disputing.

marisheba
Guest
marisheba

That’s also true of skiing or running or most sports though. People don’t often die skiing or running, but they can, and we expect that a certain small number of people will die each year skiing (due to accidents or avalanche) or due to running (heat stroke, heart attack, etc). Yet we don’t call those sports deadly or suicideal, because the risk is still really really low. Same with driving. Yes, we expect things will sometimes go wrong and we know that sometimes people will die as a result, but those instances are extremely rare on the scale of the number of trips people take.

Now, that doesn’t excuse us from making our roads safer. Transportation is a requirement of living, and so it is our societal obligation to make transportation as safe as we possibly can. However, calling driving violent is about the same as calling running suicidal.

Caleb
Guest
Caleb

Driving has inherently higher potential for destruction than does running, so I don’t think calling driving violent is about the same as calling running suicidal.

qqq
Guest
qqq

I disagree that skiing, running or other sports are very comparable. While we do expect a few participants will die (or be injured seriously or cause property damage, since “traffic violence” isn’t only about deaths) those don’t happen several times per day every day here, which is how I was describing “normal”. And runners, skiers and other athletes almost never cause property damage, or injuries to other people. And while almost everyone’s daily safety is impacted by driving, hardly anyone’s is by sports, especially if you’re not doing the sport yourself.

And no, we don’t call many sports “deadly or suicidal” but nobody was call driving that either–it was being called “inherently dangerous” which is several notches below “deadly or suicidal”.

Your “calling driving violent is about the same as calling running suicidal” just makes no sense at all for all those reasons.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“Yes, we expect things will sometimes go wrong and we know that sometimes people will die as a result, but those instances are extremely rare on the scale of the number of trips people take.”

Yes, but “traffic violence” includes property damage and injuries, which are much less rare than deaths. And (as I said) while the numbers may be low per-mile or per-hour, they are not low in the sense that every day so many injuries and so much damage occurs that it’s not newsworthy or even worth police time. Even traffic deaths in Portland are so common they typically get only rudimentary press coverage.

Hello, Kitty
Guest
Hello, Kitty

Does property damage constitute violence?

qqq
Guest
qqq

Yes.

Tom
Guest
Tom

“How many lives in your own family are you willing to sacrifice?”
My family has sacrificed one incredibly valuable precious life to traffic violence. One too many.

PATRICK
Guest
PATRICK

I’m so glad your family is OK. I habitually drive the speed limit and try to keep in the right lane. Even so, sad drivers living in desperation continue to whip around me to get to their destination a few seconds faster. Thoreau’s quote from Walden comes to mind, “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.” They rarely experience contentment. They rarely pay attention to majority of life that is Mundane, significant, and frequently beautiful.

X
Guest
X

I’m glad your family members appear to be OK.

A few days ago somebody asked us to quit making the car-gun comparison. Sorry, I can’t. The by-product, the collateral damage, of personal motor vehicles as “transportation” is a yearly number of deaths approximately equal to deaths by shooting. Each day in the US, about 100 people who just want to get someplace die in a car crash. There’s no unviolent way to die in a car crash.

Adam
Guest
Adam

I am so sorry that your family had to endure this at the hands of someone in their assumably turbo-charged pen*s extension. And thankful that it wasn’t worse. It looks like exactly the sort of vehicle I see aggressively lane-weaving at high speed across the Fremont Bridge almost every day.

My next upgrade for my car is front and rear dashcam, because of exactly this kind of idiocy. I am a pathologically careful driver. But that doesn’t count for **** if nobody else around you is.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

Why didn’t he apologize? Because he was looking at his phone. That car is designed to stop far faster/better than an aging minivan (sorry, minvans are old tech from day one, tech starts in Europe). That car on paper is worth a lot…and this dude just takes his trust fund/hedge check plus insurance and in days has the same type of car. I see it every day in a truck. They don’t care and insurance doesn’t worry about it as they cash their thousands of dollars every year from us….

Someday…insurance companies will require inboard cameras for an auto discount just like trucks have. Until this, it’s game on.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

You know what I find interesting, I broke my arm recently riding one of those electronic skateboards. When I tell acquaintances like coworkers about it, I get a lot of flak like, “what were you doing on that thing anyway” or “aren’t you too old for one of those things?”

If I had broken my arm in a traffic collision in an automobile, even if it was my fault, I would have received universal understanding and compassion. Just an observation.