Tuesday, December 23, 2008

To Easy to Be Free

There’s a story circulating around these parts about a woman whose car broke down during a snow storm. This woman, leaves her car, and wanders off, looking for help. The thing making this story “newsworthy” to the local media is that she somehow managed to get trapped in a snow bank, and survive for three days until rescued by a search and rescue dog team.

I’m not an expert on mental issues, the mind or any such thing, but you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this person probably isn’t exactly all there. Three days trapped in a snow bank? Three days?

I thought about this when I read the headline, and figured the person must be a senior citizen, and probably suffers from something or other – but if that were true, then surely she wouldn’t have a license and be allowed on our public roads?
After seeing the story on television, the woman clearly isn’t a senior – she’s probably not far off in her fifties.

Which begs the question, how does someone mentally alert enough to have a driver’s license and drive thousands of pounds worth of plastics, metals and flammable materials along with others doing the same – get stranded in a snow bank – without her car – for three days?

You’d think a person able to drive would be able to avoid a snow bank – especially on foot – or if not, at least be able to get out of one.

Driving is a privilege – or so we are reminded every time we go to renew our licenses. Since when does that privilege extend to those without enough intelligence to be on the roads in the first place?

I suppose it’s just been a long time coming, they don’t generally make you take an IQ test or any test for that matter when you go to renew your license. Usually, if anything, the worst part is standing in line for hours, only to be told to stand in the “little feet” for a quick and usually awful photo.

Perhaps we’d have fewer accidents on our roadways if there were a certain baseline level of intelligence required to drive a vehicle?

Think about it – this woman walked into a snow bank and stayed there for three whole days. I can understand staying put when lost, in the hopes that someone will find you – but staying in a snow bank because you can’t get out?

The woman walked into the thing on her own footpower!

She lacks the intelligence to just turn around and walk out the same way she came? Why then does this same woman have a driver’s license?

That scares me, being someone who is often out and about – think about all the other people lacking a basic level of thought driving on our very public roads. If these people – or even just one – gets confused behind the wheel, tragic results are sure to follow.

The media is focusing on how the husband of this woman claims it is a Christmas miracle that his wife survived. I’m thinking the real miracle is that she hasn’t killed anyone while being dumb behind the wheel.

Or maybe, the real miracle is how someone stupid enough to trap herself in a snow bank for three days got her driver’s license in the first place?

Whatever the miracle is, it raises the issue of brains, or a serious lack of brains, posing a real risk on our roads. Drinking and driving is very wrong, as it’s been long known that alcohol impairs judgement, and affects our motor reflexes enough to cause harm behind the wheel.

But if you lack the intelligence to be driving a vehicle, that too in a sense, is an impairment which can cause harm behind the wheel. Worse still, what if someone dumb decides to drink and drive?

Intelligence is a genetic thing – we don’t all excel in matters requiring much grey matter. Which is all the more reason to test people’s mental abilities prior to issuing them the piece of paper that says they can drive. Anything else, is just asking for trouble.

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