Since I got my current job I drive on average over 1,000 miles a week. Yet I rarely get held up by auto accidents. Today was completely different.

I was downtown moving at two miles per hour when my local NPR announcer told me there had been a fatal truck accident on I-70 eastbound just outside the outerbelt. That didn't bug me too much as I was heading west. Yet I was barely past downtown when I spotted a burned out semi that had once headed in the other direction, surrounded by wreckers. A forklift was unloading the trucks cargo into another rig. A flatbed to carry away the carnage stood by. I got through it and figured I was on my way.

I was wrong. That blackened, ruined truck was just the overture.

Traffic sped up then slowed down again as I got to the outerbelt. Time to creep along again at two MPH, wondering what was happening. Four miles later I got to see the remains of the most horrific accident I have ever seen. Two jack-knifed semis in the middle of the highway. A white and a black minivan, each with the passenger compartment amputated. As in nothing there. The black one was in two completely separate pieces. I presume some of that came when the rescue crews came to cut the victims from the wreckage. But gone? Cars today are safer than ever, in part because energy-absorbing crumple zones have been designed in to preserve the passenger compartment. When the nose and rear are intact and the passenger compartments are not you know it's bad. There were no ambulances still there. The helicopters had already departed, assuming one had been called. You don't call a helicopter for a corpse. I almost reached for my cell phone camera, but it seemed so ghoulish. That wasn't an image I wanted to remember. It's one I'd prefer to forget.

It took another half an hour and eight or so miles to get out of the traffic jam. WThe police squeezed us down into one lane to allow the miles of trapped vehicles to turn around and use a different route, because they weren't going east for a long, long time. One or two had wisely set out lawn chairs. I drove on.

I know what happened. Somebody wasn't paying attention. It was 'oh shit', jam on the brakes then watch a minivan got punted. Maybe from the inside That's what happens when a two-ton object meets a forty-ton object at speed. Newton gets proven right violently one more time. Back when I was in high school, they used to show us films made by the NHTSA films showing the bodies after a horrific accident. The idea was to make us feel mortal, and it worked for a few days. Today I feel mortal. I'm an excellent driver, but I'm not perfect. Early news reports had a truck rear-ending a car and then boom. I can control what i do, but I sure as hell can't control the people around me. We trust them to do the right thing, knowing full well sooner or later somebody nearby won't.