It’s March, the season of St. Patrick’s Day, Leprechauns and four leaf clovers. That’s the inspiration for this blog post about “gettin’ lucky on the freeway.”
Three different stories, to keep you safer on the road.
These three people avoided disaster – in similar incidents – while driving:
- my husband, Eastbound on I-94, at 4 PM in November
- my neighbor, Westbound on I-94, at 8 PM in January
- church workshop speaker, Eastbound on 694, 7:30 AM in February
The Bouncing Wheelbarrow
My husband’s story happened mid-afternoon as he was driving home from work. It’s only an 8 mile trip; mostly highway driving once he’s navigated out of downtown St. Paul.
Traffic was light, and he hadn’t even noticed the pickup truck in front of him. That is, until there was suddenly a bouncing wheelbarrow on the interstate in front of his car.
It flew out of the back of the truck, hit the pavement and bounced 3 times across the lane onto the dirt shoulder, just barely missing the right front bumper of our vehicle. My husband was about 70 yards behind the pickup, but when a wheelbarrow is flying through the air and your car is going 60 miles per hour, that distance closes very quickly. It was a near miss, and a startling reminder to leave plenty of space and pay attention!
The Flying Planks
This story is courtesy of a speaker at a church workshop I attended. She began her presentation with this confession: “I always start with these words: “I’m so glad to be here this morning” … but today I’m rephrasing to say: “I’m SO VERY VERY glad to be here ALIVE this morning!”
Her story is similar to my husband’s: on the highway behind a truck, she was just about to switch radio stations. It was early on a Saturday morning, so there wasn’t much traffic. And suddenly there were two pieces of lumber flying straight at her from the truck bed. She was in the center lane, and knew there was nobody behind her in the next lane. So she swerved to the right and saw two 8′ long boards land on the highway behind her.
After the adrenalin rush ebbed and she caught her breath, she accelerated and motioned to the guys in the truck to look back behind them on the highway. From her quick glimpse into their car, she could tell they were oblivious, and surprised. They didn’t realize the lumber in their truck had literally almost killed someone on the road behind them.
The Airborne Sofa
The last story is from my neighbor, who drives a little yellow Mini-Cooper. It’s a teensy car that’s perfect for her and her two little pugs.
She was driving in the far right lane of the highway, and it was dark. Directly to her left, in the center lane, was a semi truck with a double trailer. Another double-trailer semi was in front of that truck. And way up ahead, in front of both semi-trucks, was some other kind of trailer with a couch on it.
With that kind of distance, and the fact that it was dark, there was no way for my friend to anticipate what was going to happen as the sofa came loose. All she knew was this:
“I was looking ahead and all of a sudden there was this couch in mid-air. It was coming STRAIGHT AT MY WINDSHIELD and I knew I couldn’t possibly survive….”
For the rest of the story, I’ll just share her conversation with friends on Facebook:
Mike Pehl says that whenever one of his behind-the-wheel students gets near a car with something tied or banded or bungee-corded in place, he always asks them: “What are you going to do when that comes off? What’s your plan if something comes loose? If our mindset is that every time we come up to something that’s tied down, we assume it’s going to come loose, then we can be ready to defend against it – by moving to another lane and always having an exit to escape.”
Driver education students need to learn to recognize this kind of risk. Experienced, confident drivers may need to be reminded!
As landscaping season begins again, there will be more people hauling loose items like wheelbarrows, ladders and rakes in their trucks. So don’t forget the stories of The Bouncing Wheelbarrow, The Flying Planks, and The Airborne Sofa.
Maybe at some point you’ll be grateful for a little “luck o’ the Irish” or even help from a guardian angel, but you will always be safer if you remember to pay attention to what’s on the road around you, and leave plenty of space between yourself and other vehicles – especially those carrying items that could come loose and put you in harm’s way.
Drive Safe, Ride Safe, everybody!
Got a story of your own? Tell us all about it in the comment box below!