Don’t read this while you drive
If you are reading the paper right now and you’re in your car with the keys in the ignition, the engine running and the wheels turning, stop. You’re piling up bad car karma, and it’s sticking to Interstate 70.This is no ordinary bad karmic buildup. This is the kind of nastiness seen only once in every 10 generations – the kind that crushes cities to rubble, turns good men and women bad and makes your nose run.How else can you explain the almost endless series of delays, destruction, destitution and despair that has halted traffic on I-70 literally in its tire tracks during the last few months?You can blame coincidence for the almost endless series of violent snowstorms, overwhelming avalanches and even the massive sinkhole that blocked the highway for several days, but I know better. It’s bad karma, pure and simple.The problem with my explanation, however, is figuring out where the bad karma is coming from and how exactly to solve the problem.There are, as usual, plenty of suspects oozing bad karma to finger for the disasters.Take President Bush for instance. His brilliant economic recovery plan will not only tumble the deficient into a downward spiral some economists say the country will never survive, but also his tax cuts seem – surprise, surprise – to favor the rich while the working man gets a whopping $400 back with which to lavish himself, his wife and kids with Champaign and caviar.If that hasn’t created some bad karma, I don’t know what will. But I don’t think that’s the problem even though I think rich people should have to spend one year living on the average person’s salary before they can run for public office.Then there are High Country developers who seem to leak bad karma like a baby leaks snot, but they’re not the cause either.The people I think who have really brought some seriously bad karma to our mountain highway are the people who actually use the road.According to a poll commissioned by Drive for Life: The National Safe Driving Test & Initiative, the majority of drivers on the road today admitted to engaging in dangerous behavior behind the wheel during the last six months.When I learned that 71 percent of all drivers – including seniors – admitted to behaviors like speeding, well, I was shocked and appalled. I’ve never noticed anyone speeding. Everyone around me always seems to be going slow – too damn slow.Then there are the 59 percent of drivers who say they eat while on the road – a habit I’ll admit I’ve also enjoyed in the past and will probably enjoy in the future.After all, what could possibly taste better than a McDonald’s cheeseburger, Taco Bell burrito or plate of spaghetti when you’re traveling at 80 mph passing out-of-state license plates?It didn’t even surprise me when the 37 percent of people said they chat on cell phones while driving. Talk about bad karma.I’ve actually witnessed – besides basic death defying moves like drifting into oncoming traffic and dangerously wide turns – cell phone users stopped in the middle of a lane while dialing their friends and family.But the kicker for me, the statistic that made me realize debilitating road karma is rampant is that 14 out of every 100 people say they’ve read while driving.What are they reading? War and Peace? A comic book? The Summit Daily News?Personally, I’m so afraid of driving off a mountain pass that I don’t even glance at things like speed limit signs.There is nothing I find more terrifying than visualizing some guy tooling down the highway with an open copy of Soldier of Fortune on his lap or a woman discovering her true feelings by scanning an issue of Oprah Magazine.Now aren’t you glad you stopped the car before reading this column.You did stop, didn’t you?Maybe we should put the Summit Daily News on audiotape.Abridged, of course.Columnist Andrew Gmerek swears he didn’t write this column behind the wheel.
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