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  • Writer's pictureTerry Virts


Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Sunrise over Earth as seen from space
Sunrise dawning over Earth. Photography by Terry Virts

This is a blog I wasn’t expecting to write. It is certainly one that I never wanted to write. But it is one that I feel I must. And I apologize upfront if it’s a little on the “heavy” side.

The Fragility of Life

I recently witnessed a fatal car accident. It, in fact, happened directly in front of me, and I was at the scene within seconds. When it happened, the events of the ensuing minutes and seconds passed in rapid succession, like I was in some kind of training session. But the reality of what had happened quickly set in. Unfortunately a young man had lost his life much too early. And the fragility of life and the realization of just how quickly and unexpectedly it can end was made loud and clear to me. Something that we all know intellectually, hit me over the head in the most visceral way.

It’s hard to be helpless

As a man with a Type-A personality, I like to fix things. If someone brings a problem to me I immediately start to think of solutions. This isn’t always helpful in a relationship, I know; sometimes it’s better to just listen and be sympathetic and not offer advice and fixes. But in an emergency like this, there was absolutely nothing I could do to solve it; this person’s fate was sealed and I was helpless. Which was pretty dang hard for a guy like me to accept. I know that tragedies like this unfold probably tens or maybe hundreds of times a day in America, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Take Action – Save Lives

There are billboard signs along the highways in my home state of Texas that have public service announcements; “Amber Alerts” for missing persons, highway closures, and sometimes they display how many highway deaths we’ve had in our state, year-to-date. Unfortunately, by the time Christmas rolls around each year, the number has inevitably surpassed 3,000. We lose as many people in Texas on the roads, every single year, as America did on 9/11. Can you imagine if we spent the same resources on preventing highway deaths as we spent after September 11th, 2001? Or even a fraction? How many accidental deaths could be prevented? I don’t know the precise number, but I know that it would be worth it. Hundreds if not thousands of lives would be saved each and every year in the USA alone, if people drove more responsibly. Less distracted. Had safer vehicles. Safer roads. In so many ways, senseless deaths could be prevented. Unfortunately, thousands and maybe millions of people around the world have had experiences similar to what I recently experienced.

Let’s take action to make this number shrink.

Let’s prevent parents from getting that unthinkable, unbearable, life-changing knock on the door from the local state policeman. Let’s prevent kids from losing parents and siblings suddenly and unnecessarily.

Let’s spend our time and money and resources in a rational way, to affect the maximum positive change, and improve highway safety.

Focus on Writing the Future

Well, that is the practical, “take action and solve the problem” side of me. But here is the personal and emotional side.

I know that we can’t rewrite history. Our past cannot be changed, there is nothing that can be done about it. All we can do is focus on writing the future. Make our future decisions better. And live without regret.

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