In real life there’s no ‘reset’ button

Posted on September 23rd, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.58.42We’re probably used to hearing friends and relatives telling us how much better their lives are than our own. “I’m living the dream,” they tell us. Well, we all have dreams, but few become a reality. The danger is when fantasies or dreams conspire to clog reality. For example, some people think they’re capable of certain manoeuvres behind the wheel because they’ve already proved their prowess using video games.

Big risk. Playing with a video game control unit isn’t anything like the same as staying safe in traffic. After all, you only have one life and you seldom get the chance to hit the “reset” button and try that move again.

There are many drivers who enjoy watching chase scenes in movies and TV shows. Most manage to disconnect the fantasy of the movie scene from the reality of the main road. But not all do. A few feel they can replicate these high-cotane acts on public roads. They’ll often remove the fear of crashing and replace it with the rush of adrenaline of going beyond their means.

Ever heard of the Fast and Furious movie series? You can guess the theme, I’m sure. Well on November 30 2013, at approximately 3:30 p.m. PST, in Valencia, CA, the Fast and Furious star Paul Walker left a charity event in California in a red 2005 Porsche Carrera GT driven by his friend Roger Rodas. The car crashed at high speed into a concrete lamppost and two trees on Hercules Street, a 45 miles per hour speed zone near Kelly Johnson Parkway in Valencia, Santa Clarita, California. Afterwards the vehicle burst into flames. The crash was caught on film by a security camera.  The coroner’s report stated that the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT was traveling at a speed possibly as high as 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) before the crash. The coroner’s report further stated that no alcohol or other drugs were found in the systems of either man. Furthermore, it states that there were no hints of technical problems with the car and neither a damaged surface of the street nor parts on the street played a role in the accident.

In March 2014, further investigation revealed that the speed of the car was the lone reason for the crash. The car was said to be travelling between 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) and 93 miles per hour (150 km/h), and had nine-year-old tyres that were seldom driven on.

OK, so Paul Walker had no control over the driver’s actions, but we wonder what sort of fantasies were obscuring the driver’s reality on that occasion? Of course, we will never know. The point is that we often see what kind of influence TV, movies and video games have on drivers. One of the participants from one of those ‘Worst Drivers’ series had a clogged sense of reality between online video racing and real life. Judges tried to convince him it wasn’t real and that driving on public roads was real. Over time, he learnt that there is a difference and has changed his ways.

There are places to try these dreams or fantasies. Going to a race track and learning how to use the equipment is always the best idea. But keep it on the race track when you leave. It’s always a tragedy when someone dies through negligence. And it’s always reassuring when authorities step up the penalties for street racing and driving well above the posted speed limit. Unfortunately many people feel that safety rules simply don’t apply to them.  Paul Walker’s death is a stark reminder of the very real differences between fantasy and reality – and that in real life, there is no ‘reset’ button.