“Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” This so-called “Golden Rule” can serve as a fairly broad and effective moral compass. We certainly could use more of it in society today, especially on the nation’s highways and byways. Even as the frequency of deaths and injuries in car accidents declines gradually, some 5 million people die every four years in this country in fatal vehicle crashes.  Much of this carnage is due to the selfish actions of drivers who drive while:
- Under the influence of alcohol
- Sending text messages
- Making voice calls without hands-free devices
- Using smartphones or other digital devices for other purposes
- Dressing, applying makeup, or grooming
- Driving while fatigued or not having enough sleep.
The concept of the Golden Rule appears repeatedly, in various forms, across religious and philosophical texts. This principle stands for acting as you hope others would, or how you would expect all people to work together and build a social fabric in which a great number of individuals can lead happy, healthy lives full of consideration and mutual respect. On a personal level, this guiding principle pays personal dividends, as those who treat others with respect and kindness are repaid in kind. However, due to the fickle nature of fate and unforeseen circumstances, karma doesn’t always play out the way we might expect.
This past Thursday evening, a 60-year-old FedEx semi-truck driver named John Tracy from Pahrump, Nevada was driving on Las Vegas Boulevard near Via Inspirada. He was driving his route when he noticed that a vehicle travelling on the same road had caught fire. The cause of the fire was initially unknown, but the blaze was significant enough that it was noticeable to other drivers on the road. As any good Samaritan would, Tracy pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed his fire extinguisher, and ran to combat the blaze. However, in his haste to help the distressed driver, Tracy failed to check for oncoming traffic. He was hit by a cement mixer as he attempted to cross Las Vegas Boulevard. Tracy was pronounced dead at the scene. 
Tracy leaves behind a grieving widow, Kerry Navik, who attests to his life of generosity and kindness. “He would give generously to people, even when he got nothing in return.” By all accounts, this compassionate man spent his life helping others and walking each day according to the Golden Rule.
Alcohol Impairment and Car Accidents
In this case, the driver of the cement mixer stayed on the scene, and investigators determined that impairment from drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in causing the accident. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of all crashes that result in pedestrian deaths involve alcohol consumption by either the driver or the pedestrian, making this case an exception.  Alcohol is frequently a factor in driving accidents because it is an extremely popular drug to consume, both socially and privately, it is extremely addictive, and it has a profound effect on brain function. Even when consumed in moderate amounts, alcohol use can result in loss of judgment, loss of motor functions, poor muscle coordination and control, delayed reactions, and blurred vision. 
Pedestrians are at risk of being hit by cars on any given day, not just when witnessing a fiery motor vehicle accident on a busy roadway. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 6,000 pedestrians are killed each year on streets in the United States. While the risk is ever-present, there are several steps you can take as a pedestrian to decrease the likelihood that you will fall victim to this epidemic. Follow all rules of the road and obey pedestrian signals when crossing the road. Stay on sidewalks and in crosswalks whenever possible. Just as drivers can put others at risk by using cellular devices while operating a motor vehicle, pedestrians can put themselves at risk by practicing “distracted walking.” When crossing a street, don’t assume that drivers see you, and attempt to make eye contact before crossing an intersection. Wear bright colors when walking, especially at night. Flashlights and reflective clothing can also help increase visibility and decrease the likelihood that you will go unnoticed by a driver. Be alert at all times and be sure to both watch and listen for oncoming traffic. 
Witnessing an Accident
If you witness a car accident, you may be weighing the conflicting impulses to help the driver and maintain a safe distance for yourself. There are ways to help safely without putting yourself or your passengers in danger. If you witness an accident, be sure to pull over to a safe area, far enough away from the accident to leave room for emergency vehicles. Put on your hazard lights and wait to exit your vehicle until you are sure it is safe to do so. If you notice that the car is smoking or on fire, do not approach the vehicle. Call 911 immediately – never assume that someone else has already done so. If you are sure it is safe to approach the vehicle you may do so, but don’t attempt to move anyone who is injured. Wait until the police arrives so that you can give a first-hand account of the accident. Never put yourself in danger by crossing a busy street, approaching a dangerous vehicle, or interfering with a recalcitrant driver.