Thinking Out Loud

July 3, 2017

Car Accidents Happen Fast

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:33 am

I had this picture in my files and figured it served us better than a scene from a horrific traffic accident or the type of highway rollover I witnessed.

On Friday evening I was driving home on the freeway when the car ahead of me wandered off the road and then totally lost control on some soft gravel. It took out one of the supports for a large highway sign and then flipped over sideways landing upside-down.

I pulled over and pulled out my phone to call 9-1-1. Although I was relatively calm, I couldn’t really see what I was doing. The sun was shining in my car obscuring the screen and I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses. I think it took me nearly two minutes to fish out my glasses and get my password entered properly, and find the keypad to dial a number not in my contact list. (Isn’t there an emergency shortcut for 9-1-1 on these things?)

Meanwhile other people had stopped and were running into the ditch to check on the condition of the driver. I considered the possibility he had been killed instantly — he survived — and felt I was of greater use providing information to the police dispatcher.

It turned out there were three people in the car, the driver was pulled out and then walked away from the car but the two others were badly winded. I assume the ambulance paramedics would have them checked out for internal bleeding or other such injuries.

It was like a scene from a movie. 24 hours later, I am surprised that I remained so calm, apart from the minutes of fumbling with my phone. Here are a few reflections.

The thing I did right: I followed this guy for a few miles at a bit of a distance because his right turn signal was on continuously. I’ve always figured that this is a sign that a driver is not entirely focused. For that insight, I am thankful to God.

The thing I did wrong: I should have pulled off more onto the shoulder of the road. I was very careful getting in and out of my car, but if you look at police vehicles in those situations, they pull well over.

What the driver did wrong: The guy tried to jerk his car back onto the road too suddenly. Once he hit the soft gravel he should have braked — I never did see brake lights — and then followed the shoulder until he could get back on the road safely. This was the Friday of a long weekend here, so I don’t know if drugs or alcohol were a factor. Or a cell phone.

What the driver did right: I’m going to assume he had to have been wearing a seat-belt to not have not been thrown from the car.

What I learned: These things can happen in a second. Or less. The cliché is true: Driving is a full time job. A driver needs to stay focused. If one is tired, it’s time for a rest stop. 

Again, Thank you, Lord for your protection.

 

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February 10, 2017

Automobile Anarchy

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:47 am

car-odometer-100000My drive home from work exactly a week ago contained two surprises.

First, there was the red light at the freeway exit ramp I take each day. I get into the left lane and wait for the light to turn green. Traffic in the right lane is required to stop for the light; there is no green arrow or provision to turn right without stopping.

But they did. One. Two. Three. All minivans for some reason. No regard for the red light. Not even a hint of a stop.

Then, not two minutes later, I was on the single lane road that leads to my home and noticed a guy weaving two cars behind. Sure enough, he pulled onto the inside — a combination paved pedestrian walk and bike lane — and passed the vehicle directly behind me on the right side.  At that I decided to get out of the way of the guy and pulled over to let him pass, which he did, swinging way out into the other lane to do so.

At the top of the hill a police car was in radar mode, but the guy wasn’t actually speeding so he sailed through. And the police had missed the drama of his approach because of a hill.

In both cases, there is a Friday factor; alcohol could have been involved.

What do I say to this?

  • There is a complete disregard for the rules
  • There is a great deal of impatience
  • There is a sense of “me first” with many drivers

However, if I start regarding every approaching vehicle as being operated by a potential menace the paranoia and over-cautiousness will start to affect my own driving style and could result in a worse situation.

Driving is based on trust. Trust of the other guy on the road.

It’s an act of faith if ever there was one.

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