Paul Walker’s death and the potential tragedy

Paul Walker's deathIt is sad that Paul Walker and his friend died – I don’t really know much about him.. However, this accident is the result of driving recklessly on city streets. We are all lucky that some innocent bystanders were not killed or injured. I don’t consider such events a tragedy because they are somewhat predicable and caused by the individuals involved – his friend in this case.

There is a potential tragedy here. It is that the focus of the death will be Mr. Walker and his friend – and not what they were doing prior to the accident.

I witness, as we all do, people who speed, weaving in and out of traffic, obviously thinking NOTHING about those around them. Typically, but not always, it is young men. Speeding is thoughtless and selfish! I am fortunate that my father did NOT and hounded me early on about it’s foolishness and selfishness. He actually related it to me in physics terminology and used a phrase that I still use.

“Don’t be stupid on someone else’s dime!”

You are allowed to be as stupid as you want in life.. If you wish to do drugs, great, lock yourself in your home – do drugs, drink, whatever. Just don’t get behind the wheel.

And you can drive fast if you want. Just do it on a closed track – pay to be foolish where you DO NOT put others at risk.. that is NOT your call! It’s selfish! Be stupid on your own dime.

My hope that the news can spin this properly to be a wake up call, rather than a senseless tragedy. A senseless tragedy is when a drunk driver runs a light and kills some family on their way home. My fear is that Hollywood will focus on what a great guy Mr. Walker and his friend were.. I mean, they were leaving a charity event after all.

But don’t leave out that they were speeding on city streets, in the middle of the day, putting others at senseless risk! The tragedy would be to obscure THAT important fact.

I remember taking my daughter to Driver’s Edge in Phoenix and them asking everyone to rate themselves as a driver. Side note: if you get a chance to take your child to Driver’s Edge, DO IT!!! 

Guys tend to rate themselves as 8, 9, or 10’s – I KNOW I DID. How arrogant of me!

These professional drivers, who train race car drivers, rate themselves as 7-10 – very few would admit to believing they are a 10. In fact, none of them did. Some of the trainers suggested that there was one person on their staff that they considered a 10 rated driver.

We (the general public) aren’t even close. As with any activity, being a “great driver” requires practice in the most extreme conditions. If these professionals are 7-10, most of us are lucky to break the 5, 6 mark – and that is being generous! If you are a member of the general public and rate yourself as a 7+ driver, you are just arrogant!

Consider playing 1-on-1 basketball with Lebron James or Kobe Bryant. You wouldn’t score a single point if they chose to NOT let you. That is how we – the general public – rank as drivers compared to a professional who trains. They have both a natural physical giftedness and intense training.. we don’t. Don’t be foolishly arrogant about how well you drive.

Owning a really fast car – and driving it fast several times a week – without training and NOT on a closed track makes you an ass, not a good driver.

As the Driver’s Edge trainers pointed out, being a good driver is NOT about how well you drive when everything goes right, it’s about what you are able to do when everything goes wrong!

It is sad whenever anyone dies.. actor or not. However, don’t mistake this as an untimely tragedy. It was the bi-product of foolishness and selfishness. That message MUST get through if Mr. Walker and his friend’s death are to count for something! If that message is lost, that would be tragic!


Posted in Blog, Life, Misc.


  1. Hey Matt, as you said you didn’t really know much about Paul Walker prior, I feel I should point out that he had extensive drivers training, as he was an avid racer when not filming. What’s more, Roger Rodas, who was driving, was a professional race driver who does so for a living. Both were more skilled than 99.999% of the licensed population.

    The car they were driving was such a beast that 9 out of 10 vehicle operators (those who passed a multiple choice test and eye test over a counter at 16 and have no further training) would likely crash it before leaving the parking lot. Such a machine is not lent out for charity use without extensive underwriting and confidence.

    Finally, we’re starting to get word that lackluster road maintenance might have contributed to the loss of control which ultimately put them into the light post. Was speed a factor? Probably, but while that car could probably do 100mph inside a city block, I highly doubt those two professionals were so callous.

    Too much car, too little road maintenance, too much speed, too little attention. We’ll never know for sure, but more people die every year because someone was using an iphone while driving than do from exhibitions of speed.

    Yeah. Closing strong on the strawman. 😉

    • I’m not really sure I understand the point above except you are saying that other factors, beyond irresponsibility, contributed to the accident and death of Paul and Roger.

      I didn’t make the case that they were trained or not, there was no straw man setup. The truth is, had they NOT been driving too fast – road conditions not-withstanding – and quite frankly, not in such a high-powered vehicle – it is fair to assume they would be alive today.

      My primary point is that their death – and many other deaths on the road, can be avoided by clearly understanding that we (generally) are NOT race car drivers and it is irresponsible and selfish to drive recklessly on public roads. That the driver in this case is trained seems to further accentuate the need to only drive in this way on a closed course where it is better maintained for such driving and the other drivers have agreed to be on a high-speed course.

      Quite simply: don’t speed on city streets – even if trained. Is this a point of contention?

  2. Not at all! The strawman was all mine; to suggest the greater issue is not trained drivers caught out by circumstances none of us in the peanut gallery will ever truly understand beyond speculation, rather a population of generally unqualified and disinterested motorists insulated from responsibility by the false confidence inspired by evermore coddling technology. 🙂

    Excessive speed, especially in an overly powerful, consumerized race car on public roads should never be condoned. That said, I believe had they been driving a lesser machine at its limits, they would have survived. You and I might drive 10 over the limit everywhere we go, but I’m a car like that, even 10 over might have been too much, and their having driven that route in other vehicles all day without consequence might have lead to disaster.

    We may never know whether skid marks at the scene were the result of recklessness (I doubt it) or a failed attempt to correct course (my theory). Porsches are infamous for snap overseer, from which I suspect only 0.01 of the world’s drivers (not to be confused with operators) might be able to recover. Those skid marks might have been from a proper attempt to avoid a crash caused by a stray dog, an inattentive pedestrian or motorist who simply jumped out in front of them while they driving responsibly.

    My intent, since you mentioned not really being familiar with the guys we lost that day, was to add context. Driving too fast for conditions – location, weather, ability – is always wrong. It’s easy to over simplify down to “they were driving too fast,” but based on what I know of Roger and Paul, I’m inclined to believe they were being responsible when circumstances beyond anyone’s control arose, typing a statistical balance against them.

    We can always use more reminders to slow down and be present behind the wheel.

      • No worries, mate. Certainly potential for backfire effect when faced with the thought of someone with whom we identify paying dearly for indiscretions we ourselves commit from time to time.

        Life has been busy this last year plus. New job, first child, publishing a monthly magazine with a small, international team, etc. Lots going on ask the time.

        All the best,

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