Hello and welcome back to my world of the Dogpound that almost came to an abrupt end a few days ago.
I have driven for many years and consider myself a pretty safe and defensive driver. Thank the good Lord, I have not been in any really serious accidents. I have had a few fender benders and one good bang-up, but none that would have been considered life-threatening. Now there have been several potentially “bad” situations that could have had serious consequences, but they never materialized. None where I thought “this is it,” this is the end of the road.
With that being said, this changed on a recent Friday afternoon. I had just gotten off work and was heading home. There is a major state highway just west of Sullivan, Ind. – two lanes heading north and two lanes heading south – and I have to cross this road to get to go home. I pulled up to the stoplight, it was a nice sunny day, and another vehicle pulled into the left-hand lane to my left, and one pulled in behind me. I was just sitting there listening to the radio, and a red light finally turned to green. I start to move forward, just a casual “put the foot on the gas pedal,” and I move maybe a half-a-car-length when I see something out of the corner of my eye. I did not even get to put my brain in gear when my foot immediately hit the brake pedal. Just as I stopped, a tractor-trailer came roaring across the intersection heading north. I could not see him, since the car to my left blocked my view, and I suspect they saw the truck coming and did not move forward, otherwise I would not have seen him until it was too late. The white line where one stops for the light is probably a car length back from the highway, so I was probably less than half a car length from that racing truck. He was on the inside lane closest to me, so close I could not see the top of the trailer or the bottom of the wheels. I just know in a flick of an eye it was a red cab and gray body with a canvas tie-down on top. Usually one may get an immediate shot of adrenalin when things like this happen, but in this case it happened so fast my body did not have time to generate anything other than a knot in my stomach as the full realization of what just happened and what could have happened finally hit my brain cells. I live about 7 miles outside of town, and over every foot of that road I was running through the possible scenarios and none of them were good. If he just hit my front end, outweighing my car 12 to 1, with the added force of driving 60 mph, he would have sent my car flying 20 to 30 yards down the road into a deadly multi-rollover. Or the impact, instead of sending me flying, could have spun the car around and into the back of the trailer, allowing the back wheels to finish the job. Then the final and worst-case scenario of the three: he hits me square in the side, turning the car into a U shape around his bumper. In all of these situations, due to the mass and speed of the truck, no matter how many airbags or seat belts are in the car, it would be lights out.
However, again thanks to my Guardian Angel for pushing my brake foot, I am still here in one piece.
As they say, “things can change in a twinkle of an eye,” so be careful out there.