We almost made the Saturday evening news this weekend.
The news as in, “(at least) Two dead, (some number) injured in major accident.”
Me, the wife, and my Dad were headed to the Old Vic Saturday morning. I was driving the wife’s car (Crunchbird, da Altima). 60 mph (the limit) on a two-lane blacktop. Moderate traffic. Clear/dry conditions.
Suddenly, directly in front of us, an oncoming car quickly crossed the center-line taking up about 3/4’s of our lane. I saw the car start over and pulled da Altima hard/violently right. It was a split-second kind of a thing. There was *zero* time to brake or do anything else at all.
No finesse. Jerk the wheel or die. There wasn’t even time to voice a warning to my passengers.
Heck, there wasn’t even time to *think* the customary, “Oh crap!” or “This is gonna hurt.” Heh heh…somehow, I feel cheated by that! Every successful action under stress should have an appropriate one-liner!
We cleared the car by the width of my side mirror. I was really surprised that we didn’t make contact near the rear of the car anyway. That close. It was so close and so fast that I never had the “cycles” to be aware of the other driver…don’t know if they were texting or what…no idea how many folks were in it…I do know it was a light colored passenger car, but I got that from the rear-view after the incident.
Now faced with minimal shoulder and lots of trees in the ditch so I immediately pulled back hard left…
Both the hard right AND the hard left were violent enough that I expected to lose control of the car (I have every confidence that with sufficient road space I would get it back), but that didn’t matter…almost anything is better than a head-on between two 60-mph cars, and this *would* have been head on. At the very least, both drivers would have been killed. Nobody would have gotten by without serious injuries. After the head-on was avoided, almost anything is better than a ditch full of trees.
I have several principles that I try to adhere to in purchasing automobiles…
1) Buy good stuff. That means, “better than basic” in handling and ride.
2) Keep good tires on the good stuff. “Good” means high wet and dry traction rating (and in Texas, high heat-shed rating).
Those principles helped. It’s a sort of, “Luck favors the prepared” kind of thing. Motorcycle riding paranoia/awareness also helps (watching the road WAY in front of you, assuming everybody is gonna try to kill you, and always try to have a “way out”).
I knew da Altima handled well…we researched before we bought it and we’ve been driving it a while now (10 years? Gad!). I’ve also driven enough other vehicles in enough conditions to know that anything with a solid rear suspension would have broken loose…even as well as it handles I was really surprised we did not.
The car slid slightly but never truly broke loose. In a couple seconds we had pulled hard right, missed the errant oncoming car, pulled back to the left, bobbled just a hair, and then we were clean and green…60mph and headed down the road.
In the mirrors the errant car made it back to their own side of the road, and the car behind us by 20 lengths or so had cleared them as well, although with MUCH less violence required. I’m really glad there was nobody close behind us…they would have been toast I expect (we would have blocked their view of the impending doom…and it really was *that close*.
I don’t think my wife (front passenger) knows just how close it was…becoming aware of the issue only when I first swerved…I think my Dad (rear passenger side) saw how close it was though…afterwards he said, “Wow!” and a moment later, “Thanks.”
It’s a weird feeling…I am a passionate and emotional man, but when things like this happen all of that “disconnects” and allows *serious* focus on the needed action. It’s a moment in a microsecond of clarity, vectors, options, actions, and reactions…
A couple minutes later I was glad to have my hands on the steering wheel though…that way nobody saw the shaking.
I hope the other driver knows just how close to killing him/her self, me, and perhaps a bunch of other folks he/she came, and perhaps learned something. I don’t know.
Keep alert folks…you just never know.