The morning news, as well as the various internet and cable weather forecasters had all claimed the ground was too warm for anything more than some accumulations on ‘grassy’ areas however.
So it was armed with all of this high tech information that I got in the car and set out on my 50 minute morning commute to the office.
As I was slowing for the turn onto the interstate I noticed that the bridge I was on had managed to get a bit slick, “Nothing serious” I thought, but filed that little piece of information away for the drive.
As I was entering the interstate, I also noticed that the road was not ‘wet’, but beginning to become snow covered, despite some rather heavy traffic. I decided to ease up to speed in the ‘slow’ lane until I’d reached the top of the rise and saw what the traffic ahead looked like.
I’d just matched the speed of the pickup in front of me, noticed the semi pulling up on my left, and the one along side that pickup in front when it happened….
The tail-end of that pickup twitched to the left slightly, I eased off the gas a bit, then it twitched hard again, but to the right this time… again I lifted off the gas… about that time the pickup got almost sideways and clipped the front of that semi…
The impact tossed the pickup back into our lane, but now it was spinning… in one of those spins it clipped the guard rail and got airborne… rolling over twice, landing on its side…. Then, just as I reached it, slid off the road and over the edge of the embankment….
I managed to get my car stopped, find the four way flashers… grab my cell phone and dialed 911 as I ran back to the truck… as I was giving the 911 guy the location, I heard the driver moving in the truck… he said he was fine, but needed help getting out.
I told the 911 operator the driver claimed to be fine, but to please roll some help and hung up as I climbed up to help the driver climb out.
He got out Ok.. and amazingly enough, he was fine, not a scratch. His pickup however looked much worse for the experience.
Both of the truck drivers stopped as well… the most amazing thing to me, besides the fact that no one else (including me) got gathered up in this incident, was the way that both of these big rig drivers stopped, and made sure help was on the way.
As we were waiting, there was another crash, in the opposing lanes, and a driver hit that concrete center barrier hard… with snow falling heavily now, and daylight just barely making it possibly to see more than a few feet without the aid of headlights… it all seemed very surreal.
I remember thinking, as I watched things unfold, that “this is going to hurt”, then, as the truck slide out of my way a split second before we would have hit, it felt like some sort of NASCAR slow motion replay… but it wasn’t, it was real time, real people and real dangerous.
I’ve never let the weather deter me from driving where ever I wanted to go. I’ve driven 100’s of miles in blizzards, on closed interstates, on roads where it was impossible to tell where the road actually was… staying ‘on the road’ only by trying to watch for guardrails, telephone polls and other markers.
I’ve had many, many, close calls… this however was the closest I think I’ve ever been to a 50+ mile an hour, in traffic, collision.
I’m thankful for many things, those new Goodyear tires I put on the car this fall, anti-lock brakes… and yes… seat and shoulder belts. The driver of that pickup was wearing his; I doubt he’d have escaped injury if he hadn’t been.
I didn’t continue on to the office that morning, instead I returned to the house and worked from home. On returning, the news was story after story about the dozens, and dozens, of accidents, between where I’d been, and the office. The commute would have been several hours at least from the reports.
One last thing, this whole thing, from the first twitch of that truck, to getting my car stopped took only a couple of seconds, perhaps 10 at best as I’d only traveled about the length of a football field or so, from start to finish.
I’ve mentioned before how intense traffic can be at times… and I know I’ve had a tendency lately to drive a little closer than I should to the car in front of me… I’m thankful that all those years of Upstate New York winter driving kicked in as I eased onto the interstate Thursday morning… I hung back and decided to ease into traffic… I really don’t want to think about what might have happened if I hadn’t!
Technorati Tags: Driving - Comfort - Decisions - Winter
-IceRocket Tags: Winter - Decisions - Comfort - Driving