Caught a glimpse of death…

Near death experience last night on the road. Shakes you up a bit. Having to go from 50mph to a complete stop in a few seconds – tires squeal, pressing on the horn, car begins to shift sideways because of the emergency stop. I really wish people would stop being in a rush and look around. If you miss an exit, just get off on the next one and turn around…

After my heart returned to my chest, I thought about how things could have been different. I retraced what happened. I think about all the “ifs” and thank God, none of those were in play last night…

It was just a minute after 10 pm, driving home after a wonderful dinner with close friends. For those who know the crossroads, I was heading east on 394 and just got off the entrance ramp to merge onto 100 north. I hate that merge because it is somewhat blinded by the arch on 100 and cars are going super fast, so I always take it cautiously. I was speeding up to the flow of traffic, about 50mph, when I am about to merge but I move back to my lane because I see someone coming– and decided to wait for them to pass. They were in the next lane over, heading straight without a blinker so I knew I could merge right away.

Next thing I know, they are veering towards me. Their car exactly parallel to mine, about to completely side-swipe me and cut me off. I slam on the brakes to stop – braking from 50mph to a nearly dead stop. I hear my tires squeal and burn. My back of my car begins to sling sideways because of the abrupt stop. My right hand presses against the horn, signaling to the driver that they screwed up.

We were literally inches away when his or her car slides in front of mine. I realize at that point that he is trying to make that exit. No blinker. Was speeding up versus slowing down. Which leaves me to wonder either he thought he could make it over in time, or he was in just that much of a hurry to refrain from looking. It took a second or two for me to compose myself and continue driving. Even a car two lanes over seemed to slow down some, anticipating a crash.

I was lucky. As my heart resumed to its normal position, I thought about all the alternative scenerios, like how I had just tried to call Said moments before going on the entrance ramp. If I had been on the phone with him, I would have been less observant and probably a slower reaction time. If the roads were wet, my tires and brakes would have been less efficient in braking so quickly. If I was in my old car, I definitely wouldn’t have braked in time. If we did hit, we would have rolled because of the speed and we weren’t quite lined up with the exit ramp and were on a bridge, so could have been bad either way.

Last night I had a dream about the experience – probably replaying the “what ifs” in my mind. It is easy to dwell on those, but I am thankful none of those were in play last night and that the worst of it was the jittery feeling I had driving the rest of the way home. I have had close encounters before, but never one this close with squealing tires and my car shifting because of the speed and braking.

I count my blessings that I was lucky. That God was watching over me last night and all the elements went as they did. But I would also like to speak to that driver last night to ask him to slow down. That if he misses an exit, to take the next one and turn around. To look better next time. To use his signal when he is changing lanes. To take like a little slower so that you don’t fly over speed bumps because life is very fragile.

I realized on my way to work today, I was extra cautious – allowing time for people to merge. Not being in such a hurry. Yet again, almost got cut off on the highway – had to press on my horn. In this case, I think I was in their blind spot, because based off their swerved reaction time – they did not see me. But did they just rely on their mirrors? Again I was going approximately 45 mph… and that would have been a bad hit.

I think Minnesotans are just a tad bit too happy this week – for once the sun is out and there is no preciptation, the roads are mostly dry except for the occasional black ice strip.

Just because spring is approaching, it does not mean you can be any less careful when driving. Please look around – turn your head and not just rely on your mirrors. Slow down versus speeding up. Life isn’t a race.

Posted in Learning, Life

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