Silly Point

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Accident!

The day after I came back from California, I was driving the minivan to New York on I-80. The whole family was in the car, including my sister who was sitting in the front. It was about 2 PM and it was raining on and off. As we got past exit 56, it had stopped raining and the sun had come out. But the roads were still wet. I was driving in the left lane and on my right was an 18 wheeler going about the same speed as me. I looked ahead and I saw a car, two cars ahead of me, signal to change to the middle lane. As soon as it started moving, the car in the right lane also started moving to the same empty spot. The car in the left lane could not see it as it was coming from his blind spot. The left lane car had started to move but after seeing the other car reacted quickly and turned a sharp left to avoid a collision. This is when everything went into slow motion. The driver had over compensated in turning the wheel to the left. The wet roads also came into play. The car first swerved to the left, then the driver turned it back towards the right and finally again to the left to regain some control, but he had lost it all. The car turned all the way left and hit the barrier on the left. The car had turned 180 degrees by now. I was watching all this and was reacting accordingly, I had put on the brakes and moved to the left on to the shoulder and come to a stop while the car in front of me, the one immediately behind the skidding car, had miraculously managed to stop and move to the shoulder just ahead of me. The skidding car had bounced of the wall and was about to complete its full circle when it entered the middle lane, only this time, the truck which was on my right was coming towards it at full speed. The truck driver managed to swerve to the right and narrowly missed the the skidding car by the slightest of margins and continued on its course, leaving the action. The driver in the skidding car now had full control and was able to drive to the right shoulder without incident and stopped the car. All of this happened in about 4 seconds.

It had seemed like an eternity though. The amazing thing was that I was fully aware of what was going on and I was reacting accordingly, all of this subconsciously. I don't know what part of my brain took control of me, but it left my conscious self to look at what was happening with an open mouth and take in this surreal and almost elegant spinning of the car and all other cars reacting to it. It was only after the car had stopped and then we had seen the driver was ok and calling 911 from his own phone that we drove off again and it suddenly hit me. I began to see the depth of what had really happened back then and the miracle with which everyone had survived. Everyone was able to avoid the accident by the slimmest of margins and it is then that you see how important some little things are. What would have happened if I was driving my other car which has much slicker tires? What would have happened if I had slammed on the brakes thinking it was ABS like my other car and locked them? What would have happened if I had reduced the distance between me and the car in front of me by even a foot? What if the truck driver had reacted slower then he did? What if the skidding car had hit the barrier front on instead of side on and inflated the airbags, blocking his view and leaving him stranded in the middle of the road? So many variables, and yet they all fit in perfectly to make sure no car hit any other car.

I was also surprised at myself, asking why I didn't panic. What was it that kept me so calm and objective throughout the whole incident? Why no one other driver panicked either? It was certainly by the grace of God that no one got hurt that day. And it left me thinking, how easy it is to die sometimes and what is it that keeps us alive?

3 Comments:

  • When in such situation and everyone involved walking away with their lives intact when their cars are not I believe no one can take credit for it. It is simply and utterly the grace of God. Amazing! I ironically saw a car just today do part of what your story describes. Although today was a lovely dry day, by some unseen or unknown circumstance I saw a car on the opposing side of a highway loose control turn about 180 and slam into the divider. I hope whoever it was also walked away unscathed. People if your gonna drive and speed do it with your eyes open and always double check you blindspots.

    By Blogger M, at 7/08/2006 12:02 AM  

  • haha, i appreciate the blog posts for me! although i have to say, i really liked the accident one a lot more than the california one (which you said was for me). if you keep the rest of your posts like this one, (interesting but short!) i promise to comment on every single one.

    By Anonymous Aisha, at 7/09/2006 11:40 AM  

  • There's a reason why I haven't been reading your blog! I refused to get sucked back into this. This hobby will not consume me ever again. Mwahahahaha

    By Blogger Kal, at 7/10/2006 1:11 AM  

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