September 26, 2017
Audio Features
Bernstein With a Twist
This is a weekly program with commentary on current issues.
Episode
I was westbound on Highway 91. The October evening had seen the last of the sun as I drove a couple of musicians from a rehearsal in San Bernardino and approached the Riverside Squeeze.

This was still the old 91-60-215 interchange and I eased into the slow lane to take the cloverleaf to eastbound 60. It was commutin’ time. We stopped dead. I grew impatient. Get out of this lane, I told myself. Take the next exit. I looked in my rearview mirror. Looked clear to me. I gave it the gas and bolted into the lane to my left.

Wham! A car from nowhere bounced off the driver’s door, my door, scaled the center divider, came back down, zipped in front of me and hit a pickup in the lane I’d just left.

When the dust (and glass) settled, nobody was seriously hurt. My insurance company eventually declared I was 100 percent at fault. I lost my good-driver discount. My insurance premium increased. And I had to get used to hearing my wife say, “You totaled the minivan.”

All because I made a bad decision. But not tragically bad. I was lucky.

The six young people riding in a Dodge Ram pickup on a Friday night last month actually made a very good decision before setting off on their life-ending cruise through Riverside: They appointed a designated driver. The 19-year-old woman behind the wheel had not been drinking. Sometimes, even a good decision isn’t good enough.

The truck, doing 55, soared over a hump at a railroad crossing and smacked into a palm tree. Three passengers, including the driver, died.

I recount these incidents because we are entering the annual season of hope and promise, when bad decisions become grotesquely magnified. Caution: We are entering graduation season.

Just a year ago, 80 Perris High School seniors wrapped up their graduation run-through, boarded two buses and headed for Mission Beach.
Episode Date: June 6, 2008
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