Two things to be thankful for: airbags and breakaway poles

Both prevent a horrific scene on commute to work

Blog Entry

Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.

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It was a couple of days before Thanksgiving, and I was too emotionally frozen to say a prayer. Thank goodness for the traffic- and automobile-safety standards of this country, and a small miracle.
One of my last movements on my commute to work involves exiting off State Rte. 53 and on to Euclid Avenue. The ramp is an S-curve, and I have seen a few minor accidents over the past two years. Nothing too exciting, just some bumper scratches. On Nov. 21 I entered the first slight right-turn on the ramp when my eyes hit a car in the ditch. I must have arrived shortly after the mishap. The street light was struck, and its remains were sprawled across the road. The woman two cars in front of me jumped out and ran toward the vehicle, and after she failed to open the driver's-side door she turned to a man in a delivery truck and screamed, "Call 9-1-1!"
I sat there, frozen, afraid of what had happened, and afraid of what I might see if I got out of my car and joined the rescue. After a few seconds I did call 9-1-1, then proceeded to get out of my car and was the second to approach the scene. The frantic lady was a degree or two calmer, and as I peered into the car I saw the driver and two little kids in the back seat. All of the airbags, including side, had deployed, and all three victims appeared fine.
If the traffic light pole did not break away on impact, like it was required to do, it might have been a more horrific scene. If the car did not have any airbags, severe injury might not have been avoided.
Knowing fire and rescue was on the way I walked back to my car, sat down and began to tear up. All I could think about was my three little ones, and how tragic it would be if one, two or all three were physically injured in a traffic accident. I am not sure what the caused the driver to take out that light pole and spin into a ditch. There was not another damaged car in sight, and conditions were relatively dry. Perhaps it was a hit-and-run, or maybe the mother was trying to calm one of her children in the back seat and lost control.
It was a little late, but I did finally get that prayer off to the heavens. And even though I was ashamed of my delayed response, I was certainly proud of the industry I represent.

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