Close Calls: The Urban Driver’s Near Misses

Today I choose to drive the speed limit because – like many guys whose Y chromosome becomes more apparent behind the wheel – my number should have come up long ago. Numerous close calls have shaved feathers off whatever angel’s protecting me.

Just last Sunday I was driving back from up north, at the legal limit, in a Ford Fusion SEL. Suddenly a bonehead in the oncoming lane chose to pass a car he’d been tailgating hard. The bonehead was now in my lane and perhaps 50 metres from me. Not to be outshone by stupidity, Bonehead B accelerated. So both were racing my way and I had nowhere to go.

I decelerated significantly.* Luckily there was nobody behind me. Bonehead A won the race, passed B, then merged back into own lane without killing anyone.

Had I been speeding when this went down I’d probably be in hospital.

Not that I was always the paragon of safety. Once I tipped an SUV into a ditch.

I was simply moving too fast in a severe dip in the road. I was fine but had it tipped three metres sooner, the four-foot drop into the ditch would have been twenty and I could have died. Easily.

But my closest call was on a bicycle and had nothing to do with speed, just timing.

A busy downtown intersection required an uphill left turn. I looked to my right, just for an instant, for approaching traffic. The car in front suddenly halted for last-minute rushing pedestrians crossing the intersection. Inclining, I was peddling hard and didn’t notice he’d stopped till just before slamming into his bumper, crunching my forks, and catapulting myself onto the back of his vehicle.

This is where it gets weird.

It was a vintage, pristine Ranchero, that ‘70s mutation of car/pickup. I hadn’t seen one in 20 years and haven’t since. The cargo bed was covered by a snug vinyl tarp. The effect? Like landing on a trampoline. Unharmed, I was spread-eagled in the shape of an angel.

*Watch for a positive review on the Fusion’s braking system soon.

Image courtesy of Brain Toad Photography.

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