Wreck-less Speeder

“Faster”, you think to yourself as the right foot comes down on the gas pedal like a pound of lead, sending the needle on the speedometer on a dead sprint towards triple digits as you get pushed back in your seat. Feeling the vibrations at the wheel as the car cuts through the air, fighting its way through the laws of physics. Trying to escape tunnel vision as you concentrate on the road ahead, avoiding the hypnotic trance of the white center lines slowing blurring into one. You’re standing on the gas pedal as your death grip wraps around the steering wheel, feeling your shoulders tense up. You’re not sure if it’s the muscles tightening up or the speed demon’s hands as he whispers in your ears urging you to go faster, to push the car to its edge. Feeling the pulse of your heartbeat throughout your body as the car’s RPM’s gets closer to redline. Suddenly, the electronic limiter kicks in and slaps you out of your speed induced hypnosis and you gradually ease off the gas and return back to the reality of the speed limit.

Driving fast is addicting, and speed is the drug that will get you hooked. For most of us, it starts off young when we get our first bike and want to find the biggest hill in the neighborhood to use gravity as horsepower. All your friends, at one point or another, have reached for the, “oh crap”, handle on the roof of the car when you’re behind the wheel. Driving fast, however, can often labeled you as a, “reckless driver”, which I have always felt was incorrect. Someone who is driving 90mph, but focused on the road, is safer than someone driving 70mph while texting or talking on the phone. There is a clear difference between a fast driver and a reckless driver, and that is the level of concentration.

There was a movie in 1976 called, “The Gumball Rally”, about a group of wacky characters in souped up cars driving from New York to California in the fastest time possible. Basically the movie that came out before the Cannonball Run with Burt Reynolds. There was a line in that movie that not only made me laugh, but found some logic behind it. “55mph is unsafe, because it’s fast enough to kill you but slow enough to make you think you’re safe”. It is a great line, and it makes sense because if you are traveling at 55mph you are more than likely to day dream or be distracted because the speed feels boring. Any speed over 100mph and  your mind is focused on the road in front of you because now the risk of death has gone up which forces you to pay attention, theoretically.

There are two kinds of fast drivers in this world, a reckless speeder and a speed freak. A reckless driver will drive fast to get where they need to be with no regard for another drivers or the rules of the road. Mostly because they are too busy: eating on the go, chatting on the phone, sending an ironic tweet about how their city is full of bad drivers, or thinking about what they need to do instead of what they are doing at the moment. A speed freak is different, they drive fast because: they have race car driver ambitions or fantasies, they own a fast car and want their money’s worth, or because they love driving itself and having the ability to control a car at high speed is part of the experience.

A street racer is not a speed freak, because a street racer is driven by competition while a speeder is only racing against him/herself or time. Speed, like a drug, is incredibly addicting so anyone who is an acceleration addict can remember the first time they developed a need for speed. For me, it was the time my father told me to, “Stand on it”, while I was test driving what would later become my first truck. We were on a newly paved road by the ranch and he told me to stand on the gas so I could feel what a V8 felt like at open throttle, and as soon as the needle ran past 90mph I turned into a junkie.

Driving fast doesn’t make someone an unsafe driver if they are paying attention to what they are doing. Although the speed demons can urge a driver to push his/her ability beyond the point of no return that does not mean that, “Speed kills”. Technically, driving at high speed can’t hurt you, but the upcoming tree might. Whatever type of driver you are remember, know your limitations and be safe out there.

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