Dec 28, 2009

On Narrowly Avoiding a Serious Accident

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One moment last evening we were driving in our Suburban on southbound US-23 about 15 miles north of the Ohio border, returning home from a holiday gathering of the far-flung members of the Brooks clan. The next moment the vehicle and its five occupants began a white-knuckle slide over black ice on a stretch of deceptively slick and unsalted Michigan pavement that threatened serious injury.

Or worse.

The episode lasted perhaps 15 seconds, and it began as my wife started to pass a slow-moving vehicle about 50-60 yards ahead of us in the right lane. She was traveling about 50 mph, but the person in front of us was driving much slower, and when the slide commenced it appeared that we might actually sideswipe the rear of the car ahead of us.

Slide left, slide right, slide left, slide right.

My wife demonstrated a cool head and quick reflexes in the harrowing moments when the Suburban no longer gripped the road, and she instinctively turned into the direction of skidding and resisted the urge to slam on the brakes. It was probably fortuitous that she was behind the wheel, as I think she is a better driver than me in extreme weather and in moments of chaos.

She managed to avoid hitting the slow-moving car, kept us out of the median, and she even did all this with an element of panache that would have been the envy of Richard Petty. After prying my fingers from the overhead handle, I gave her a high-five and said a silent prayer.

And yet the incident happened so quickly that the adrenaline did not have enough time to kick in. I certainly appreciated that we managed to come through the close call unscathed, but I have to perform this intellectual exercise in order to remind myself how lucky we were last night.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Only a liberal weenie like you would let his wife drive!!!!! HAHAHAHAH!!!!!!

Mad Jack said...

My thanks to your beautiful, talented wife.

I hit some black ice once in South Dakota, and once is more than enough. My first clue was the vehicle ahead of me pitching and yawing like a carnival ride. I tried my brakes and absolutely nothing happened. My vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban rental with two wheel drive, lacked anti-lock brakes as well as a manual transmission. I shoved the gear shift into neutral and beat a fast double para-diddle on the brake pedal. I finally got the beast slowed and the black ice gave way to pavement.

There are few things worse than black ice. At 50 mph it takes considerable skill to stay on the road.

historymike said...

Anonymous:

What, pray tell, does politics have to do with driving decisions?

historymike said...

I'll pass along the kudos, MadJack. It has been many years since I felt the terror of an out-of-control vehicle, either as a driver or a passenger. I hope to avoid said sensation for another few decades.

Mr. Puggle said...

God is good. Glad you are all safe.

Yay woman drivers. Guys give us a hard time but who pays higher insurance rates eh? May sound funny coming from someone called mr. puggle...but the lady who feeds him and has thumbs to type is talkin' right now. :)

Jill said...

Glad you're okay. My daughter and I saw a black SUV that was going too fast ahead of us yesterday and as it continuously tried to accelerate while going up a slick and not completely plowed hill, it skidded across FOUR lanes of Chagrin Blvd (422) in Shaker Hts/Beachwood (about 15-18 miles east of Cleveland).

Growing up and learning to drive in New England, you learn that you must be patient and wary at all times and can never forget about what you can't see.

Have an UNEVENTFUL New Years. :)

Molly said...

Gosh Mike, Joe the Plumber would never let a woman drive HIM around, don'tcha know? eyeroll
Glad Mrs Dr Mike got you through it OK.