Plan the escape or use the escape?
Many things often come in bunches. We’ve often heard that good things come in three’s; but what about bad things? Do they come in three’s too? After the week I’ve just had, I would certainly think so!
The risky week started when I was stopped in traffic at a red light. Monitoring my mirror while I was stopped I noticed the driver approaching from behind just a bit too quick for comfort. I always leave additional space in front of my vehicle when I’m stopped in traffic and this time I needed to use it. The driver behind had locked their front wheels and was sliding toward me. As I started to move forward into my escape route to avoid them, they finally stopped. The look of fear on the driver’s face as I saw it in my mirror was proof they knew they made a mistake. Good thing I monitor the mirror while stopped and good thing I had a place to go to avoid them.
A few days later I was traveling along the freeway when the traffic ahead started to brake. I saw the slow down early by seeing brake lights of vehicles well ahead and started to slow early. Again, I check my mirror before and while slowing and I saw the driver behind was too busy doing a lane change into my lane and wasn’t looking ahead to see that I was braking. I came off my brake and tapped the gas slightly to give them more room and time to complete their change. That was enough to give him time to respond to my vehicle. What if I didn’t check my mirror and just hit the brakes? Could the driver behind have hit my vehicle at high speed? I believe they would have.
And the last of the three events saw me moving onto the paved shoulder of the freeway as two drivers raced each other and swerved throughout traffic. I saw these drivers in my side mirror and they were heading for my vehicle. I decided to move quickly onto the shoulder to give them room before they got to me. One of the vehicles ended up in the lane I was originally in and very close to my vehicle as they passed. I was pleased that I moved out of the way when I did. Again, using my mirrors regularly helped me spot the problems approaching from behind. Knowing where to go and what to do made it possible to avoid this certain risk of crash.
These three events reminded me of two important driving qualities; always know what’s behind you while driving and always have an escape route. Planning an escape is different than using the escape.