What it’s like to kill someone with your car

For 20 years, Shane Snowdon didn’t say much about what happened in 1997.

Snowdon, a Cambridge, Mass., resident, has broken the silence now after reading a headline.

This one:

2016 traffic deaths jump to highest level in nearly a decade

Over the last 30 years, Snowdon calculated, one of every 200 drivers in the nation has been behind the wheel of a car that killed someone.

Snowdon is one of them.

She wasn’t at fault in her crash, she writes on WBUR’s Cognoscenti blog. She wasn’t distracted. And she wasn’t impaired when she struck and killed someone on a bike.

“I will always see him staring wide-eyed at me as he flew into and over my windshield,” she writes. “I will never forget his body at roadside, utterly motionless.”

If you remember nothing else I write, I hope you’ll remember this: You do not want to be me. No destination, no text, no drink, no glance away from the road is worth knowing that you have killed another human being. You don’t want to feel you’d give anything not to have been on that road at that time. You don’t want to believe that anything you accomplish in life is offset by the death of another person. You don’t want any happiness you experience to remind you of the happiness denied the person you hit, her family, his friends. You don’t want to struggle to go on living, convinced you don’t deserve to exist, wishing you hadn’t been born.

Like the loved ones of those who have died, in honor of those who have died, I beg you to join our efforts to spare others what we’ve experienced — for your own sake. My crash might have been prevented by simple, cheap, decades-old technology that should be standard equipment on every bicycle sold in this country: blinking lights, front and rear, powerful enough to draw attention in daylight and darkness. Lights are not optional on the cars and motorcycles we buy, and they shouldn’t be optional on bikes.

NPR’s Scott Simon was so taken by the essay, he invited her on his show last weekend.

  1. Listen Shane Snowden with NPR’s Scott Simon

    March 11, 2017

“As a driver who brought death to someone, I can’t say too many times that no text, no email is worth killing or maiming another human being,” she writes.