I'll gladly admit it: I'm a fan of MTV's "Jackass" franchise and its loopy hardcore brand of pratfalls, stunts, and pranks. Sure, I'll cringe, wince, and shout, "OH NO!" when I watch one of the shows or movies, but that's the intent -- for the Johnny-Knoxville-led team of man-boys to do something so crazy and outrageous that it makes you laugh while you gawk. It definitely can veer into an uncomfortable zone -- Steve-O getting burned is not funny, for instance, but maybe that's just me -- but "Jackass" is most often pretty good-natured in its comedic stupidity, and you get a sense of the strong camaraderie that exists between the show's performers and crew. I've always been sort of amazed that one of them hadn't yet died doing some of the stuff they do. And then, one of them did, today, but in a terribly sad, ordinary, totally-preventable, and totally jackass way.

Alcohol + sports car + late night + high speed = Ryan Dunn, dead at age 34, along with a yet-to-be-identified passenger. The single-car crash that took place in the early hours of June 20 in Pennsylvania was so violent and fiery that there was little left of the vehicle, or the inhabitants. Early reports are that Dunn had been drinking at a bar earlier in the evening (and even posted a photo on Twitter of himself sipping from a glass of alcohol-looking stuff), although no one has characterized Dunn as a heavy drinker and the amount of alcohol he ingested last night would not seem to have been extreme.

But it doesn't matter. There really isn't a "safe" amount of alcohol to consume before driving, despite the belief otherwise held by millions and millions of folks who routinely operate a vehicle after drinking a few beers or glasses of wine. In Dunn's case, it's unlikely that he was severely alcohol-impaired, but when it comes to reaction times, spatial judgment, and perception of speed, even a small amount of alcohol decreases mental and muscle function. When you add the other factors in, especially the rate of speed, a fraction of a second in delayed vehicle correction can mean injury or death for the occupants and for all the people that share the road with them.

It doesn't matter if Dunn drove a thousand times a little messed up and nothing bad happened. It's no excuse for anyone. There is no macho, arrogant, no-biggie, I-can-handle-my-drinks, it's-a-pain-in-the-ass-to-ask-someone-else-to-drive reality. You either are lucky one more time -- or not.

So Ryan Dunn joins the tragic common grave of all those who died far too young, for nothing more than the cost of a few drinks and a heavy foot. Tomorrow more will join him, more the next day and the next, piling on. Every day, families go through immeasurable pain dealing with the loss of a loved one, and friends never stop questioning, "What if...?" Ryan doesn't get a second take in this film, the one shown on the news channels rather than the big screen. My deepest condolences to Ryan's family and friends. He sure made us laugh watching "Jackass" and giving people a little comic relief in the world is a very good thing, and is so appreciated.

And now, I talk to you. Please please please, take some time today to think about the choices you make behind the wheel, whether you are driving after that third glass of wine, stressed out and distracted, sleep-deprived, blabbing on the phone or texting, whatever it is that impairs you and makes it far more likely you will be injured or killed on the road. Slow down, and think, and stick around.

"Jackass 3D" movie trailer