Driving is a Full Time Job

Driving is a full time job. At least it is when you are driving.

vehicle accidentGrandpa Richard is not a distracted driving type of guy. I tend to leave the stereo tuned in to a single station. I never text while driving. I don’t even answer calls when driving. If I was expecting a call, I will let it go to the answering service and stop as soon as I can to return the call.

Yes. I know about blue tooth gadgets, but hands free is only that – hands free. It is not brain free.

Despite all those safety oriented habits, I still suffer from distracted driving.

How so, you ask.

My brain wanders.

If the drive is boring, I sometimes almost zone out. I have had some close calls over the years. Hey, I am a grandpa, so by “years” I do mean lots of them. I really believe that it is only by divine guidance that I have never been in an accident with another vehicle that was caused by moi. I was rear ended once, but it was the other guy’s fault, and no reportable damage was done to my vehicle. It already had lots of scratches!

That said, I am really taking a beating for my most recent close call. Who is giving me the psychological thrashing? I am. It was a stupid incident, and, again, divine guidance (or fate if you so choose) saved me.

I was driving home from a relaxing trip to the big city (Toronto), during which I had coffee with a former co-worker (thank you VS), had a great conversation with a young photographer at a retail store (thanks so much Bryan), and completed some other tasks. I was on the short south bound stretch of the 403 as it heads towards the Ford plant in Oakville, doing the limit, which is 100 k/h at that point. I was definitely not following too closely. I am not sure, but I would guess I was close to 5 seconds behind the driver in front of me, on dry pavement, and with perfect visibility.

That driver’s brake lights went on, which is to be expected as cars start heading around the curve down to join the QEW. I think I took my foot off the gas, but did not bother with the brakes. What I did not notice (was I zoned out?) is that the cars had come to a complete stop. By the time I realized that, it was too late. I hit the brakes but I realized immediately that I was not going to stop in time.

accidentMeanwhile, the driver in front of me had pulled part way off to the left (I think he was also surprised by the sudden changes) and I started pulling to the right a bit. I do not know how close behind me there were cars in the right lane. No time to look, but I know there was no one right beside me. I just missed the 2 cars in the left lane, and then I was in the right lane with no cars close in front of me. No noises from behind me, and then I could see that there was a car about 2 car lengths behind me.

I looked in the rear view mirror again, and there was a lot of smoke and dust going up in the air as lots of other cars braked hard.

Once I knew I was safe, I had this horrible feeling about what had just happened. I wanted to get out and apologize to the driver in the right lane that I had cut off. And above all I felt this horrible guilt and a deep desire to be able to transport back 1 minute and change what had just happened.

We can’t do that. No time machines. When it comes to things like driving, do what is right the first time. You can’t fix it later, and if your mistake causes an injury, or worse yet, a death, you will never be able to totally forget it.

Driving a ton of metal is a full time job. Concentrate every second.