I’ve written about my experiences while traveling before, and I’ve seen some pretty disturbing things in the past. But none of that prepared me for the things I experienced on Saturday as I made the 750 trek from Florida to home. Admittedly, I probably shouldn’t have made the whole trip in one shot, seeing as how I was the only one driving. Much further, and I would have been a frazzled, nervous wreck before I reached my destination.
It wasn’t the amount of road I traversed that had my mood shifting to a dark place, but rather, what happened on the road. I should start by saying that my experiences have led to a rededication to the basics of defensive driving, and I’ll be writing about that topic extensively during this week. Those same experiences have also led to me believing that the statistics on distracted driving, which I’ve often thought might be exaggerated, might be on the mark.
So why the sharpened focus on defensive driving and distracted driving? That’s easy – I experienced two drivers who attempted lane changes while I was passing them. The issue with these lane changes is that the drivers attempted to move into my lane, and into my car. In both cases, I had an out, which was especially important, since using the horn to alert the first driver, a younger male in a Mitsubishi Eclipse, proved moot.
My eldest son, riding shotgun, was acting as a second pair of eyes for much of the trip. He’s counting down the days until he’s eligible for his own driving permit (although his real focus is to obtain his motorcycle permit and endorsement), and thus, has his own focus on experiences on the road. His report on the driver of the Eclipse was that he was wearing headphones, which explains why the horn warning went unheeded.
This incident took place on Interstate 95 north, just slightly over the border into Georgia. We had been on the road for a little over two hours. The road is six lanes across at that point, with three northward and three southbound. I was in the middle lane, the driver of the Eclipse was in the right lane. My out was a left lane devoid of traffic, although in truth, I probably should have not passed until I was in the far left lane.
The second incident took place on Interstate 40, just west of Asheville, North Carolina. In this case, I was already in the left lane, passing a Honda Civic driven by an older gentleman who also saw fit to come over into my lane. The horn warning worked on him, but this too, was a case of distracted driving. He was driving with a poodle in his lap, or rather, in his lap with one hand on the poodle and one on the steering wheel. I don’t know about you, but part of being a responsible pet owner means keeping your pet safe, just as you would yourself or your passengers. And it goes without saying that a pet can be a tremendous distraction while you drive if they’re not riding in the car properly.
In the end, my sons and myself made it home no worse for the wear, and completely intact. But the trip gave me a renewed focus on staying safe and employing defensive and advanced driving techniques. My hope is that this my experience and the articles that will spring forth from it will help keep our readers safe as they make their own way down the road.
Stay safe, fellow drivers!