Share |

A Correction- of Sorts

Island Life

"…While it was unclear whether it had come from within the confines of the tumbling vehicle, a red, white and blue malted beverage container of recent vintage was spotted amongst the debris. If it had indeed come from this car, I doubt that opting for Heineken would have led to a more favorable outcome to this situation…"

Often times, when I’ve found myself merrily reading along in some periodical, I have stumbled upon a paragraph or paragraphs of corrections to articles from said periodical that were printed in the recent past. More often than not, these corrections have forced me to rummage about to find the articles to see what the various amended bits and pieces were all about in the context of the larger and entire article. Some times it is a journey worth taking- other times I am reminded of why I did not read the article in the first place. I do not make a habit of searching out errata amendments, and generally speaking my life goes on as usual in its bumbling way if I happen to miss a revision here or an adjustment there. It seems though that if something is important enough to warrant a correction, that it be put in a place and form that all can see and read.

The reason for my current wanderings through this verbal wilderness has to do with something called slander and how it may or may not relate to something I wrote in this column the last time around. Most specifically, it has to do with how one might interpret the information to be gleaned from the two sentences extracted and pasted above that were from my last article, and how they might affect the reputation of the unnamed person involved in the car crash that was referenced in that article. I knew when I wrote it that cans (and bottles) of all sorts are a common find along our highway and byways and that connecting this particular can to the crash was an assumption and a stretch, which is why both sentences call into question any relation that this potential cause might have to the witnessed effect. As it is though, it was brought to my attention by a caller to this paper, who is also related to the person involved in the crash, that at least three people had asked the caller about the crash person’s drunk driving incident. Being somewhat taken aback by the slander accusation, I was trying to remember, while talking to the caller, exactly what it was I had written that would lead people to this definitive conclusion. As it was, I was a bit distracted and apologetic. I did hear that the caller had also seen the beer can in the grass and had asked the police on the scene if there had been any suspicion of drinking being involved. The officer said there wasn’t any indication that that might have been the cause. The driver indicated that swerving to miss a deer was what led to this unfortunate series of off the road acrobatics. As no deer remains were in evidence, it appears that at least this evasive maneuver was successful- at least from the deer’s perspective..

What seems to have gotten partially lost in all of this- which was indeed the main point of the article- was the fairly obvious fact that the rumble strips did not do what they were supposed to do - keep people in cars on the road. And not only did they not work in this and two other run off the road cases, but they have also caused accidents and injury to cyclists. My purpose for including only the directly observed details of this crash was to point out the fallacy of the "safety" of rumble strips, not to besmirch someone’s reputation in the process- well, maybe KCDOT’s reputation and credibility. According to various sources referencing the purpose of rumble strips, their reason for being is to help keep the distracted driver on the road. If I had found a cell phone in the grass I would have mentioned that, although it would not have been an indication that the driver had been texting. And my description of the path of the vehicle through mailboxes, ditch and brambles would suggest a high rate of speed, but I did not point any accusative, figurative fingers in this regard either. I am sorry that writing what I saw, while at the same time casting doubt over its connection to the incident, has led to a mistaken interpretation of the facts. It was not my intention to allow assumption to sully someone’s public character- I hope this serves to repair the damage done. It might also be suggested that if there is any suing to be done that the driver sue the county for the defect in the rumble strips that did not keep him on the road. As the county is using "fear of lawsuits" as their reason for wanting to complete the rumble etching, there would be a pleasant irony in seeing the county twist their way through an explanation in court regarding the obvious fallibility of the panacea of rumble strips and their illusion of safety.