The Traffic Lottery
I almost killed someone the other day. That sounds a bit dramatic I know, but it is never the less true. We were driving along Three Oaks parkway, in Estero, Florida, on a beautiful sunny day. As we crested a hill, I saw two bicycle riders peddling along the path that parallels the roadway.
A we came abreast of them, one of the cyclists toppled from his bike and started to roll down the embankment to the roadway just in front of us. It happened so quickly that I had no opportunity to maneuver. Luckily, the cyclist rolled just short of the road, as we barreled past him, cruising at the posted speed of 45 mph.
Everything happened in the blink of an eye. Luckily, it turned out well and no one was injured. It shook me up though. Had the cyclist rolled a foot further, I would have run him over and probably killed him. I wonder if he realized how lucky that he was that day.
It gave me pause to think of how quickly things unfold around us. However careful we are, sometimes things just happen. I wish that cyclist well and hope he wasn’t hurt in his fall. As for me, I think I will drive in the outside lane now whenever I see cyclists up ahead.
I mused further about what a complicated compact we share with each other when using our transportation systems. Cars agree not to cross the highway and run into each other. Pedestrians agree to wait for a green light to walk across the street. You can’t police all of this. It has to happen voluntarily.
Oh, there are the occasional knuckleheads who speed in and out of traffic at breakneck velocities. . And then there are the irksome types who refuse to use a turn signal when making a lane change or turn at an intersection. The signal isn’t for them, it is to warn those around them and hopefully prevent an accident. Those not doing so are casually “flipping the bird” to everyone around them. Who knows why?
And of course everyone reviles the real boobs of the road, the texters, and other “head downers,” who simultaneously try to pilot 3,000 pounds of moving metal through a crowded street while reading their e-mails or sending silly messages to friends. At least with the drunks and the speeders you have some chance of them trying to avoid collisions. With the knuckleheaded texters, you have no chance until they crash into you.
Still, the whole system works most of the time. It is just those few “almost situations” that scare the hell out of me. Drive well, mes amie and pay attention. The life you save might just be your own.
( 460 words)
Joseph Xavier Martin