The elasticity of mankind should help to explain the success of Highway Thru Hell.
It's rubbernecking from the safety of your living room.
There's part of me that feels guilty when I see Highway Thru Hell, a reality series that returns for its second season, Tuesday, Sept. 3 on Discovery.
Highway Thru Hell follows Jamie Davis and the crew of his heavy-rescue company as they clean up accidents - mostly involving massive transport trucks and trailers - on the dangerous Coquihalla Highway in the ice-fogged mountains of British Columbia.
There's no question this is fascinating stuff. But when I see a rolled-over vehicle on Highway Thru Hell, I sometimes think to myself, "Geez, did the driver walk away from this? Should I feel badly as I gaze? Is this a moral form of entertainment?"
Then again, accidents happen on roads, crews have to clean them up, and if Highway Thru Hell makes you a more cautious driver who is more aware of the conditions and the consequences of ignoring those conditions, then that's a good thing.
The first episode of the new season is titled Welcome to Winter. It's kind of a double whammy for Jamie and his team.
The accidents start coming fast and furious the first time weather conditions turn crappy, because drivers - even experienced truckers - don't change their mind-sets quickly enough. Also, there always are new members of Jamie's team, the veterans aren't in mid-season shape and the equipment either has been sitting around all summer or is essentially untested.
It's incredibly dangerous work. Not only are most of these crashed trucks filled with cargo that definitely may have shifted during "flight" off the highway, but they're all carrying fuel, too. If TV has taught me anything, it's that vehicles on fire explode within seconds, usually just as the hero is saving the baby. But kidding aside, one of the stranded trucks in the first episode of the new season is on fire, and honestly, you couldn't get me within 10 miles of that thing.
Occasionally I think, "What is so damn important about keeping this highway open all the time?" There was a comedian named Sam Kinison who used to have a routine about giving a message to the people around the world who struggle for food and water while living in the desert. Kinison would scream, "You live in a desert! Of course there's no food there!"
It's the same way I want to shout, "You're in the B.C. mountains in winter! Of course you shouldn't be driving! Of course the roads are horrible! We should not be relying on non-stop truck traffic to stock whatever it is we're stocking! There has to be a better way!"
But Jamie Davis needs to stay in business, and rubberneckers need something to watch on TV. I guess it's a win-win, unless you're the dude who just rolled his trailer into an icy ditch.