Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Glad to be Alive After Near Head-on Collision

I've lived in Indiana for 4 years and have seen the aftermath of numerous car and truck accidents. Based on recent statistics, around 800 people per year die in Indiana from car accidents -- and each year there are approximately 52,000 people in Indiana who are injured in collisions. Yesterday, I was nearly included in the statistics for deceased.

I was driving home after work and was on Highway 24, a divided highway with two lanes heading east and two lanes heading west. The median was fairly level grass extending about 50 feet. I was about 10 miles from home. Below is a picture of the area I was in at the time when I thought I may not survive what appeared to be a probable severe collision.

I had been in the inside lane behind a semi truck that was traveling at approximately 52 miles per hour. It was a 60 mph zone. Although it was a chilly November day, the road surface was dry and there was daylight. I moved into the outside lane to pass the semi truck and two cars behind me did the same thing. I was on the left side of the truck passing at about 60 mph when I saw on the curve ahead a car in my lane coming directly at me. He was on the wrong side of the highway!

When two vehicles are approaching each other at highway speed, the gap closes quickly. I had a semi truck to my right, two vehicles directly behind me (and those drivers likely didn't even see the car coming at me), and a grassy median to my left. Upon seeing the oncoming car, I immediately started to flash my high beams at him to get his attention. I also moved as close as I possible could to the semi truck, my passenger side mirror being only an inch or two from the truck. I didn't want to put on my brakes due to the cars immediately behind me, but I did get my vehicle to the same speed of the semi truck.

The oncoming driver moved slightly toward the median and just barely missed the front corner (driver's side) of my car as his passenger side tires were starting to touch the grass of the median. It was nearly a deadly head-on collision. I never saw the driver because I was too focused on the location of the vehicles around me. After seeing the vehicle go by, I moved a couple of feet off of the semi truck and glanced in my rear view mirror to see that the two cars were still behind me. I then looked in my side mirror as I was going around the curve on the highway and saw that the car which almost hit me had slowed and was rolled onto the grassy median of the highway. I'm guessing he figured out that he was on the wrong side of the highway! It was an extremely dangerous situation and had we struck each other head on it would have likely resulted in numerous deaths, particularly since there were two vehicles behind me and a semi truck next to us.

I have no idea how that person got onto the wrong side of the highway in broad daylight and didn't realize until nearly colliding with me. I've been driving for 37 years and have never had such an encounter happen. I was thankful that the semi truck driver didn't swerve, but rather maintained steady position and speed.

Pay attention out there! You never know what might be coming around the next bend in the road!

Keep Reaching For Life's Mileposts,

Paul Staso