Friday, August 17, 2007

Do as I say …

A lot of my writing for Land Line and other trucking industry publications has dealt one way or the other with safety. Like many of the folks who fill the pages here, I’m not a truck driver, just a good listener who has paid close attention to drivers’ stories and their recommendations for safer roads.

The very first time I had a trucking professional speak to me about safer driving was in 1977 near Boulder, CO, when I whipped around in front of a big rig and had to abruptly slow down. The driver noted the tall CB antenna on my little VW Rabbit and, without uttering one swear word, took me down further than the tread on a bald drive tire.

Since then, most of the time, I follow my own advice. Recently, I learned that the Good Lord doesn’t tell you when He’s going to give you a bye and when you have to play for keeps.

I was coming home fairly late one night. My route includes an interstate, a four-lane rural bypass and a five-lane state road. The bypass dumps onto the road out in the country enough that there is very little traffic at night. A couple hundred yards after the exit, there’s a stop light at a T where a two-lane side road winds off to a distant subdivision.

I was pretty close to the light when it turned yellow, and I had the speed needed to clear the empty intersection just before the light went red. Keep going, I decided.

Suddenly from the side road to my right, a pickup zipped into view. He apparently was anticipating the light change and wasn’t going to stop. He saw me, stood on the brakes but, I could see it was likely I was going to T-bone him.

I hit my brakes and, with the antilock thrumming, turned the wheels hard to the right to whip into the road he had come down. I had been doing the legal limit of 50 and my car dug in as it tried to negotiate the turn. Amazingly, she held, although fishtailing, and I rolled to a stop. Another car was coming up the road and that driver must have gulped to see my antics.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I thought, to have taken the risk. Still, there was a bit of satisfaction in the car’s performance and in having pulled my sorry tailfins out of a jam. At least I was paying enough attention to react fast.

Needless to say, no more yellow light blitzing for me.