Life can be extinguished in the blink of an eye, and I was reminded of that last week while in the truck with my husband and kids on the way out to dinner.
We were only four blocks from home when a car suddenly charged straight at us on our side of the road. My husband, Paul, managed to swerve to avoid hitting the oncoming vehicle and the woman driving it swerved back into her own lane, went too far, turned back toward the road again and sped away so erratically we weren’t able to get the number of her licence plate before she disappeared.
With her barreling through our neighborhood like that, we turned around to follow her, but she was too fast for us to find. En route again, we drove past the location of our close call and noticed how many young families were out walking their dogs and riding their bikes. They too could have fallen prey to her dangerous driving.
“Maybe she fell asleep,” I suggested.
“She was drunk,” Paul replied. “I could tell.”
It seemed too early in the evening for a drinking and driving incident, but unfortunately, this can happen at any time of day.
When we arrived safely at the restaurant to meet Grandma and Grandpa Welbourne who were visiting from out of town, the near-accident was all we could initially talk about.
“We almost died,” our eight-year-old daughter announced as we sat down. Sounds dramatic, but a head-on collision with a car going that speed could easily result in death.
The actions of this unknown driver had me reflecting on my own reckless driving moments, in particular one from last fall.
I certainly wasn’t drunk, but I was quite clearly distracted. I had been waiting for a green light at an intersection for a long time, and I was staring off into space thinking about my to-do list or something like that. I looked over, saw that the light was green and started driving into the intersection when I noticed a big moving truck coming straight at us. I slammed on the brakes and he slammed on his, screeching his tires and swerving to avoid hitting me.
Startled, I quickly tried to figure out what happened as the truck driver gestured angrily. He didn’t get out and yell at me like I thought he was going to, he just drove away and I pulled over to the side of the road to stare at the black tire streaks he’d left behind.
“I must have looked at the wrong traffic light,” I said to the kids, who were in the back seat. “I’m so sorry. I guess I was in la-la land and not paying attention.”
“That’s okay,” they replied. Yet it wasn’t okay and I felt rattled for days, beyond grateful that my distracted driving hadn’t caused a tragedy.
None of us drive perfectly 100 per cent of the time, and most of us have at one point or another had a close call of some kind. We need to remind ourselves that the vehicles we’re driving are made up of thousands of pounds of metal and steel and demand the utmost respect and responsibility to ensure they don’t turn into deadly weapons.
Car accidents do happen, but they shouldn’t. By mere definition accidents are preventable. Driving drunk, distracted or drowsy is preventable too. Deciding to do any of these things invites more possibilities to ruin lives and cause death, and none of us would ever want that.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. Her videos and columns can be found at LoriWelbourne.com