- Car Safety & Safe Driving
Decision: You have 7 Seconds or less
In The Fast Lane, Everyday
Normally you wouldn't think of having to make a possible life altering decision in the allotted time as fore mentioned... but there you have it, because life altering events can happen that fast or faster.
My profession calls for me to be in control and at a constant state of concentration as I navigate an eighteen wheeled truck down some very busy interstate highways. I am not alone in this profession as you can well see by the amount of trucks cruising along any given highway these days.
In any profession you have those who are great, good, fair, mediocre, poor and then the down-right bad, who make terrible decisions and can cause the lives of others to be in immediate danger of losing their life. I see this happening on a regular basis. Even good and great drivers can make dumb mistakes.
I will not classify myself, but I will say this that in 41 years of driving, (10 internationally in a semi)I have been involved in only one minor single vehicle accident, (with my car around 1989) and that it was my fault. I have certainly observed the favor of God on my life in many other instances. A few weeks back was one of those instances.
Accidents are preventable. The reason people find themselves involved in an accident on the highway will almost always be human error. We may say, it was foggy, snowing, raining very hard, or the roads were ice covered. Then you adjust to the conditions, slow down, pull over and stop or cancel the driving all together. We all think that we are somewhat invincible or that we are a "good" driver. The truth is that 90% of all drivers are for the most part average to poor drivers with bad habits, who happen to get lucky most of the time. They take chances with their lives and continually endanger the lives of others. Most drivers act like children in a playground hogging all the toys and bullying their way through life. The problem is that they have a very large weapon in their hands capable of taking another person's life, their life, or the lives of their family at any single second without reviewing the consequences until it's too late. Distraction is the greatest danger, and with the increase of people talking on cell phones, texting, using computers, or doing a hundred numerous other things instead of concentrating on the road, we see the outcome, from minor fender benders to the loss of life or lives in more serious incidents because of it.
I could post story after story of these recorded incidents. Unfortunately I know that it wouldn't really matter and I'm not going to change anyone's driving habits by doing this. We all make up our own mind on how we go about living our lives. Unfortunately respect for others, and most of all, patience in any given situation seems to have gone out the window when we get behind the wheel.
My vehicle and the cargo I carry can have a combined weight of up to 80,000 lbs. Others can and do go well over that; note how many axles are on a rig and adjust the pounds in a higher bracket to double what I might carry. A midsize car will go around 2500 - 4000 lbs. Now compare stopping distances and reaction time to stop, change lanes, or avert an accident or unexpected situation. Concentration means you are ready for anything and expect the unexpected to happen, and you can hopefully avoid being caught in the middle.
Reaction time in any given instance is relative to the operator and their ability to be observant, not distracted, frame of mind, rested or fatigued, age and various other factors. Age has a huge bearing in the second or seconds it takes for someone to see what is transpiring ahead, to apply brakes, and adjust to sudden changes in road conditions, or safely swerve to avoid something on the highway. The one main and continuously stressed factor is this; "Eyes on the road".
One-one-thousand... The small tan colored pick-up truck had rapidly left the highway adjacent to me Two-one-thousand... and was quickly crossing the small median of grass that was between us. Three-one-thousand..., He was careening toward me on an angle since the north bound highway was easily 30 ft above the south bound lanes. I quickly braked and headed to the shoulder as I watched this truck head toward my rig. I was slowing rapidly and was taking a mental note of where I thought he would hit my truck or my trailer, neither of which I really wanted, but there seemed very little I could do. I would be too slow to try to get out of his way, even though I had no load on. Four-one-thousand... The truck was now about to enter onto the south bound pavement and would strike my truck within the next second; I figured at my door or into my tandem wheels of the tractor. He was not slowing down any and hitting the fuel tanks directly under the sleeper cab would not be good. There was absolutely nothing I could do but see what would transpire in the next millisecond...
Five-one-thousand... Then just as abruptly as he had left the upper lane, the truck turned to the right, still on the grass at the side of the pavement and he shot down the left inner shoulder against the oncoming traffic and out of sight as the road curved away from me. Six-one-thousand... As I looked in my mirror I could see directly behind me was a 5 ton truck off on the shoulder and some cars behind him. I think we were all astonished and comforted as about 5 seconds had passed and an accident was averted. I turned back onto the highway and went on my way, very relieved. It was a bright, clear and especially warm August afternoon on a very busy Pennsylvania interstate.
What happened to this driver of the small truck? Had he fallen asleep, taken his eyes off the road through some distraction, had a medical issue... I don't and will never really know.
What I do know is we were both spared a life altering negative experience. For me I thank my guardian angels, personally because I know they are real. For him I am thankful that he, hopefully got to his destination safely.
I never start down the road without a prayer of thanksgiving for the day ahead and for the overshadowing presence of God and his angels.
I am sure that each one of us can recall an incident where life was spared or danger averted or there was just a sense to be a bit more cautious this day. I continuously pray that God will protect the innocent from the foolish wherever I go.
Be blessed, drive safe and always watch out for the other guy!
I've attached a video of close calls... It will get your adrenaline going. Enjoy.