Sunday, October 21, 2007

The ghosts among us

Last week, a huge chain reaction occurred in a tunnel through "the grapevine", a mountainous section of interstate highway 5, connecting Los Angeles to all points north. At least 9 people are still unaccounted for. Why?
Two men and a 6-year-old boy died in the 1,500-degree inferno that engulfed 30 big rigs and one passenger vehicle. Ten people were treated for mild and moderate injuries, and 10 others escaped unharmed.

That left nine vehicles with drivers, and possibly passengers, unaccounted for.

California Highway Patrol investigators said they were confident only three people died.

"We have no idea" what became of those who have not been in touch with authorities, said CHP Assistant Chief Warren Stanley on Monday.
I have an idea why. Maybe these people were doing something that they weren't supposed to be doing? Like driving uninsured? Like being someplace that they weren't supposed to be?

Statistically, out of 31 vehicles, how many will be uninsured in LA? Some people have pegged the percentage of uninsured drivers at 25%. But these were mainly big rigs. Surely they were insured? Maybe not.

Have you been following the stories about implementing pollution controls on the diesel trucks at the harbors? The truckers are all against it, citing how they were barely making it. I was surprised to learn how little they earn as independent contractors. In fact, if they get stuck in traffic and burn up a lot of fuel, they can earn next to nothing for a night of waiting and driving. Who would work under those conditions? Those interviewed were all recent immigrants who had few other job choices.

Hmm, maybe they don't want to be found. After all, what could they possibly gain from coming forward? What can they lose?

I know some people find government regulation intrusive, but I want to know with whom I am sharing the roads. Are they well-trained? Licensed? Insured? Alert? Fairly compensated? Are their vehicles safe?

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