Response To Dr. Day: COVID-19 And The Car


Dr. Day’s comparison of the deadliness of the SARS CoV-2 virus versus car-and-driver safety is an excellently accurate correlation. Traffic laws are created to protect the public.

Let’s say there’s this driver who doesn’t like following the rules.  He doesn’t like seatbelts or speed limits; he races red lights, goes 40 mph in school zones, drives drunk….  You know the type. Ain’t nothin’ gonna restrict his freedom. Consequences don’t apply to him.

So okay, he’s out joyriding at high speed, misses a curve, flips, and because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, is ejected from the car and dies.  Kind’a too bad—especially for his family—but it’s his choice. Or again, no seatbelt, and he’s texting, drives off the road into a Jersey barrier, is thrown into the windshield, gets a head injury or is paralyzed and thereby incurs humongous costs for saving and sustaining him. Now that’s a little more annoying because our insurance rates go up to cover his inattention, and we’ll probably pay for his long-term Medicare. 

But here’s when not following the rules gets more personal. The guy’s drunk driving. Rules don’t apply to him. He thinks nothing’s gonna happen because he’s done it before, he knows what he’s doing, statistics don’t include him, and he has Jesus beads hanging off his mirror. He’s only driving a little over the speed limit down the Truck Route when he drifts into the other lane, crashes into an oncoming car, and kills the dad, mom, and granny in the back.

Here in NM we’re used to drunk drivers and the fact that even those whose behavior injures or kills innocents often get off with only a judicial hand-slap. But doesn’t that murderous action with no consequences by a guy who broke the law just because he felt immune from consequences infuriate the rest of us?

Comparing why LANL has the covid vaccine mandate to why we have traffic laws and safety equipment for cars and drivers is indeed a good analogy. And both rules have similarly escalating consequences. If you don’t believe in wearing your seatbelt and you die in a single-car crash, sorry for your family’s loss. If you’re the only one who dies from covid, then okay.

But when we up the stakes with the driver out there on busy streets and texting while driving, racing red lights, speeding through school zones, driving dunk—those behaviors can injure and kill an innocent someone-else just, you know, living with the expectation that she would be safe in a community that cared enough for one another to follow the rules.

The vaccine mandate is our—the community-minded, care-for-neighbor-as-yourself, protect-the-children-and-elders, seatbelt/red light/slow-down/don’t-drive-drunk safety rule. The rest of the community will allow your freedom to Be Not Vaccinated, but, like the drunk driver, you better stay home.

Jody Benson
Los Alamos