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Each bleary weekday morning, at around 6:30 a.m., I encounter the red light at the busy intersection near my home. Never once in now 28 years has it been green when I arrived.

It eventually turns green, but to enter the intersection would entail my death, or the internment of my mangled corpus in a nursing home.

I listen for the telltale gunning of an engine coming from my right, as a hurtling hunk of SUV runs the red light (not yellow, not turning red, not even close). You would think it’s some angry ball-capped dude in a jacked-up truck, but often it’s some mom with kids in the back.

The thinly stretched police are busy with meth/mayhem/murder, so speeding and running lights are penalty free. In Washington, cameras at intersections take your picture and you receive a hefty ticket in the mail. In Montana, since we abhor gubmint supervision more than vehicular slaughter, we vote such things down.

Personally, I think being killed or rendered quadriplegic at an intersection is a violation of my civil rights. At least two of my coworkers have been killed on the way to work at intersections in town.

As you might guess, this rant results from a recent experience with several mangled humans from vehicular crashes. I see and touch these people. I talk to their families. I don’t have nearly the trauma volume as does general surgery, ortho and neurosurgery. We lose good providers because of burn out from this pointless work load.

Most crashes come from the following causes. 1. Drunk 2. Stoned 3. Drunk and stoned 4. Distracted (texting, fiddling with radio, etc.) 5. Falling asleep 6. Aggressive idiots 7. Dementia 8. Other (not many, such as road conditions, or encountering causes 1-7). And, of course, no one wears a seat belt.

Over 40,000 people died in 2017, with over two million injuries, and 2,000 kids under the age of 16 will never grow older. We freak out about the latest superbug, but yawn over this carnage. The numbers are increasing, not dropping.

We need self-driving vehicles, and soon. I am not a pointy-headed socialist Medicare-for-all central planning commie. I have a one-ton truck, own three chain saws, and plenty of Carhartt. I am conservative in the sense that I think we should conserve, not waste, precious resources. That starts with not wasting your son or daughter in a vehicle.

No computer or GPS or satellite can possibly do a worse job of driving a vehicle than a human being. Reports of collisions in self-driving vehicles are sensationalized, but such events are rare. Human caused crashes are not.

Imagine getting in the car Friday night, turning on a movie, popping a beer, maybe taking a nap and arriving at the lake four hours later.

Advances in medical care and public health have been the marvel of the last century. Yet this health menace gets worse — and we are all responsible for that failure. Let’s get something done about it.

And if it’s you running that red light, someday I’m going to get your picture.

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Dr. Alan Muskett’s second collection of Gazette articles, “True Enough,” is available at Billings Plastic Surgery (17th Street West and Poly Drive) and Amazon.com.

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