Friday, April 20, 2007

A Pod of Steel and Glass

In this morning's Seattle Times, there's an article about the fatal accident this week near Enumclaw in which a Metro bus crossed the center-line and hit a pickup head-on, killing the 21-year old driver. Apparently no road, weather or other conditions existed at the time. It appears the driver was going too fast and following the car in front of her too closely to stop when it turned off the road.

The 35-year old driver was fired from Metro in 2005. She was driving my local 120 route at the time. The 120's last stop in downtown Seattle is at 2nd and Marion after which it gets onto the Alaskan Way Viaduct and doesn't stop again until Delridge Way (about 5 miles). The drivers usually announce this is the last stop in downtown Seattle, next stop West Seattle. On a day in 2005, the driver was involved in an incident where a group of young people who boarded the bus by mistake were asking to get off and threatening her when she decided to stop the bus on the West Seattle Bridge and call police. The kids were taken off the bus and she went on. Metro fired her because they didn't feel her decision to stop the bus on the Bridge was safe or justified and the investigation showed that she hadn't made the announcement about the last stop. After arbitration, the driver was rehired.

I see the kind of aggressive driving that may have killed Michael Dahlquist way too often around Seattle. When a driver can't even turn off the road without the driver behind him nearly or actually running into the back of his car or worse, there's a failure of civility. I think the most telling indicator of the Puget Sound area's rapidly worsening quality of life and societal condition is the way people behave in traffic, showing that all our talk of peace, progressiveness and the golden rule is perhaps only practiced when we aren't surrounded by a pod of steel and glass.

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