It’s the first and last bit of advice parents give their 16-year-old when they get behind the steering wheel of a car for the first time to drive away on their own: Don’t go out there and mess around. This car’s not a toy.
We wish Jay Pearce and his fellow drag racer had heeded that common sense advice last week.
Now, four people are dead, three more are in the hospital. Pearce is in jail awaiting his day in court and the other driver is hiding somewhere, hoping he or she won’t get in the same kind of trouble Pearce is facing.
In what can only be described as the worst possible outcome of a drag race, dozens of lives have been shattered because two people decided they wanted to match car engines. We say dozens because the outcome of the Sunday night race not only ended lives and hurt people, but all the loved ones of those who died must now face a lifetime without their family member.
So in case you never got that good advice from your parents, or have since forgotten it, don’t forget those cars and trucks you drive everyday aren’t toys. They can hurt and kill people. While most of us won’t be as foolish as those people who would go out and race on purpose, wrecks happen all the time on our highways and byways. They aren’t accidents. They are the result of someone using poor judgment and making bad decisions.
Car wrecks don’t have to happen. And they would certainly happen with less frequency if every driver out there took the steps necessary to avoid those bad decisions: leave home or work early enough to get where you’re going without having to be in a rush. Drive defensively under the assumption that the people around you are not paying as much attention as you are. Keep distance between you and other drivers. When the weather is bad, use an over-abundance of caution. Drive slower and allow more time for travel. Make sure you maintain your vehicles in proper running order to avoid mechanical problems.
It is unfortunate that people decided to take their lives and the lives of others into their own hands the other night in Johnston County. It would send a strong message, if Pearce and the other driver are indeed found guilty, if the courts exercised their discretion in the extreme and sent a strong message to the rest of us that such wrong-thinking won’t be tolerated.