Monday, September 22, 2014

A Scary Moment, and Reliving it After

On Saturday I flagged a USAC .25 race at Eldora and I had to be home for Sunday so this meant a midnight drive back home to Saint Louis. When I got my car at the USAC office in Indy I somewhat smiled as this was the last time I'd be on I-70 Indy to Saint Louis until Christmas which, no offense to that part of the country, I've seen it way too much for one year. I thought it would be memorable for that reason but in the end it'll be remembered for something that could have been far, far worse.

The miles started to tick away and Monrovia turned into Brazil turned into Terre Haute turned into Marshall turned into Casey turned into Effingham. Passing the towns is just a marker towards getting home, or letting me know how far I still have. Doing this drive so often it is hard to keep 100% focus on the road because it's become so commonplace (and boring!) but as I neared the end of my trip and was just getting to Collinsville I got the ultimate reminder of keeping focus 100% of the time regardless.

There was a semi-truck in front of me that started drifting onto the right shoulder so I went from the right lane into the left. The truck slowed but was still traveling forward when, without signal and without warning, the truck made the hardest of all left hand turns and made a 90 degree turn towards the U-turn lane in the opening of the cable barrier. I didn't have much time to react as now the interstate was being blocked by a semi so I'm thankful I had 100% focus at this time because I quickly swerved my car towards the left and just barely eeked by the front of the truck.

I've seen lots of bad driving in all my travels but this is certainly the worst. I don't know at all why a truck would ignore on coming traffic and make such a dangerous maneuver. If I had been looking down, or maybe just glancing at my phone, I would not have had the time to react to this truck's awful move and avoid it the way I did.

I see a lot of complacency on the road and while you, or the next driver might be a stellar driving superstar on the road it doesn't mean everyone is. Just because everyone should be going the same way doesn't mean everyone does. I will probably never see a move as bad as the one the truck did, and I hope I don't to be honest, but it was a vivid reminder of just how fast life can change. Truly, had I been a half-second later, there would have been a collision and it makes me shake to think how bad it would have been.

Events like this stay with me longer than others I have learned. I play, and replay it in my mind over and over again. When I saw the truck's side I didn't experience fear as my racing instincts kicked in, but when I made it through I experienced the deepest of fears of what could have been. Yesterday I replayed this 1,000 times and last night I had dreams of this, and the other close calls I have had in my life. The thought process goes the same each time; I can see it in my mind, I think of how close it was, I think of how it would feel had I not missed it, I'm thankful I missed it, I fear the next time something like this will happen, and I think of everything I still need to do with this writing and presenting stuff and feel that I need to do more because time is something that we don't exactly have control over.

Besides replaying it over and over this has been the best reminder of keeping my eyes on the road. To be 1% distracted is 1% too much. At that moment that I squeaked by 1% would be the difference between writing this blog, or not being able to.

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