By on December 10, 2012

If you’ve driven for a few years, you’ve probably had a close call or two. I can remember when I was in college and I was driving my Lotus Elan to Ann Arbor from Oakland County via two lanes and small towns. I was going through South Lyon I think it was, and as I went down Main Street, a pickup truck pulled out from the curb lane just as another pickup going in the opposite direction veered over the double yellow. I don’t think that I had a gap that was much more than a foot wider than the Elan. Had I not been driving such a small car I never would have avoided a really nasty accident and might have ended up hitting (or getting hit by) both trucks.

The specific small car I was driving also helped. Had I not been driving a Lotus, I might not have been able to thread the needle with such precision and quickness. Active safety actually exists. That isn’t, however, the worst thing that’s happened to me behind the wheel short of a wreck. I’ll start off the conversation with my own heart palpitating experience after the jump but what’s the closest you’ve come to disaster when driving?

I’m not talking about an accident or collision that you miraculously survived, that’s a question for another day. I’m talking about an accident or collision that you miraculously avoided. Something that might have left skidmarks on the pavement and in your pants. It can be something stupid a driver, including yourself, did. It can be mechanical failure. Climatic conditions, I’m sure, will play a part in some of your stories. Black ice, spins, torrential rain, rock slides. It’s quite possible that there was more than one cause of your near disaster. Driving a mechanically sketchy vehicle inappropriately for conditions (which is pretty stupid to begin with) and then trying something imprudent is what got me into trouble one day on Woodward Ave.

Disclaimer: long time ago when I was young and stupid. I was acting dangerously, it was terribly irresponsible of me and I urge you: don’t try this at home.

We had a 1967 split window VW bus. We needed transportation. I spotted it behind a hotel in Ann Arbor, they’d used it as a shuttle. Bought new at Howard Cooper VW, one of the oldest Volkswagen dealers in the United States. I think I paid them $400 for it in 1978 or ’79. It ran, that was about it. No heat at all, the heat exchangers were completely rusted out and even if they weren’t the ducts that were supposed to carry what heat they extracted to the passenger cabin were long since rusted out as well. Driving in the winter meant throwing a comforter in the dryer before a trip to heat it up and then layering it with a mylar blanket to trap some heat for our legs. The windshield washers didn’t use an electric pump, they had a rubber bladder you inflated with compressed air so in the kind of weather when you needed to use your washers a lot, you might run out of air.

How unsafe was it? Let me count the ways. To begin with it was dangerously slow. Wait a second, before we get to the 1st gen Type II’s safety shortcomings in terms of driving dynamics and components, let me remind you that it was designed before anyone had used terms like “crush zones” and “side impact barriers”, let alone “airbags” or even “shoulder harness”. The Bus is a cabover design, so you’re sitting over the front axle. All that’s between your knees and whatever is going to cripple or kill you is the front sheetmetal and the interior panel. It did have seat belts but in terms of passive safety it wasn’t anywhere near a Volvo or a Saab or even an American car from the same era. Padded dashboard? Machst du Witze. Also, it was pretty rusty, so whatever structural integrity it had when it left Wolfsburg in the mid 1960s was an afterthought by the malaise era.

Okay, so it was inherently a death trap in any kind of serious collision. Now let’s get back to slow. It had a 1500cc engine with single port heads and a 1bbl carb. It had 36 HP. Anybody that’s been near Detroit knows that southeastern Michigan is pretty flat and while there are some hills in that part of the state, for the most part there aren’t any real steep grades, certainly not on the Interstates. Major pucker factor when you’re driving on an Interstate and you’re slowing down going up a hill at full throttle and a semi’s front end is filling the Bus’s small rear view mirror. At the other end of the spectrum, 1st gear in a Bus is almost a granny gear, very low. It’s a great car to learn how to drive with a stick shift (please do not use the phrase “drive stick” in my presence) because it’s almost impossible to stall even if you dump the clutch. It allows a 36 HP engine to get moving with a fairly impressive payload, but it also means that it barely gets out of it’s own way when accelerating from a dead stop.

Speaking of dead stops, let’s talk about the brakes. Drums all around, no power assist. Those old buses don’t weigh much more than a ton, 2310 lbs, but that’s about 600 lbs heavier than a Beetle with brakes that aren’t that much bigger. Good for one stop, maybe. Then expect some brake fade. You youngsters that only have driven cars with 4 wheel disc brakes probably don’t know what brake fade is if you’ve never driven on a race track. Brake fade is interesting. The pedal gets mushy, the brakes don’t slow you down’ much and you start to smell things getting hot. Fortunately, with a top speed of about 60 mph, the ’67 Bus was never really going fast.

The steering and suspension was not that much different from when Dr. Porsche designed it in the 1930s. Porsche was a clever guy but with an old fashioned Ross type steering box and a 40 foot turning circle a first gen Type II does not handle like a Lotus Elan. Don’t get me wrong, before cadres of Samba lovers curse me in their fora, let me say that I love VW Buses. They’re a ball to drive, great fun but the first gen Bus was, after all, a rear engine vehicle with swing axles in back. Paging Ralph Nader. The tall boxy body and rear weight bias made it an additional handful in windy conditions.

All that running gear was obsolete when new. By the time we got it, the bus was mostly used up, but it was still a serviceable car for a young family for a couple of years. Well, that is if you kept the baby bundled well when driving in winter. I drove her mom to the hospital in it when she was in labor (three times, another long story), and it lasted until she was a toddler. Eventually, though, the steering box started to tighten up. I could still drive it but it got harder and harder to steer. I tried adjusting the steering box and changing the lube since we couldn’t afford a replacement. Besides, we were getting ready to move to Detroit and we were going to junk it after the move, which we did, sans engine – it had a highly regarded “AE” crankcase that became the basis for what became the Magic Bus, a ’72.

One of the last times that I drove the split window, I had to make a business trip to Detroit and stop at a wholesale customer’s shop on Woodward in Berkley. The brakes had started acting up. I think by the time I was on Woodward one of the dual brake circuits was bad. As unsafe as a 1st gen Transporter looks to us, I bet VW pitched those those dual circuit brakes as a safety feature in 1967. U.S. law didn’t require dual circuit brakes until 1968.

I was northbound and the shop was on the other side of Woodward so I had to make a U turn at a turnaround in the island in the middle of the boulevard. I pulled left into the turning lane and hit the brakes but not much happened. The pedal almost went to the floor and then got rock hard. Not a mechanic but I think that means the master cylinder wasn’t working properly. In any case, what remained of the braking system wasn’t retarding the speed of the vehicle very quickly. I frantically started to down shift some more to slow down and tried to crank the by then hard to turn steering wheel. I figured that I could scrub off enough speed and get the steering wheel turned enough to make the turn, which I did, almost. As I screeched around the “Michigan turnaround”, blew the stop sign and exited the turn, my right rear tire caught the outside curb.

This threw that side of the bus right up into the air. I was tossed almost horizontal on the bench seat and as I righted myself behind the wheel, the bus skidded sideways across three lanes of Woodward, all up on the left two wheels with the right side a good 18 inches or 2 feet off of the ground. It must have looked like Joie Chitwood was at the wheel. Providentially there happened to be a red light up the street and that there was no traffic in that particular spot on what is normally a very busy street. Finally, as the bus slowed down I managed to plop it back onto four wheels, and into a fortuitously located driveway for parking lot, where I stopped to hyperventilate for a while.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks – RJS

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133 Comments on “Question of the Day: What’s the Closest Call You’ve Had When Driving?...”


  • avatar
    gear-dog

    I had just come to a full stop in rush hour traffic on the interstate and looked up to see a car coming towards me in my lane without slowing down. He was still doing fifty or sixty and I was in the left lane hard up against a construction barrier with nowhere to go. At the last minute he jammed on the brakes and cut hard to the right, skidding all the way to the right shoulder. My adrenaline level was through the roof, and I rehearsed what I would say/do if I could get to him, my assumption was that he had been reading email or a text as I so often see people doing during that morning drive. I did end up side by side with the guy a few minutes later and we both rolled our windows down. I could see in his eyes that he understood that he had almost killed both of us, so rather than unload all the bile I had been preparing I just reminded him to keep his eyes on the road. The only funny part is that just as I realized I was going to be in a huge wreck one of my dominant thoughts was I had just arranged to sell that car and this was going to screw everything up.

    • 0 avatar
      Topher

      I was that guy.

      I was in high school, driving my parents’ late model suburban home (bigger is safer, right?). I lived a 30 minute hw drive from school, and my route home always had the sun in my eyes. One day, the hw seemed surprisingly free of traffic; no one was ahead of me for at least a mile, or so it seemed and continue to seem because of the glare from the sun. I was also complicit in my distraction, thinking the road was empty and harassing the friends in my car. When I finally noticed the cars ahead of me, they were at a standstill and I was traveling 65-70mph. Without enough time to break, I sawed the wheel left, right, and after the manoeuvre, slammed on the brakes. Not only did I narrowly miss rear ending the car in front of me, I somehow didn’t roll the suv. When I finally came to a complete stop, I was five or six car lengths beyond the car I almost crushed. When traffic started rolling again, I went to signal my apologies to the driver I almost surely killed, and he was a family friend who recounts seeing the white behemoth growing quickly larger in his rear view mirror, pressing harder on the brake pedal, and closing his eyes.

      • 0 avatar
        gear-dog

        That is the worst part: seeing it coming. I remember trying to go limp and telling myself to take my foot off the brake at the last second (I am not sure why that would help) thankfully the impact never came.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      A similar feeling, I was driving home from a bar in the left lane of Sheridan Rd in Chicago (an undivided 4 lane thoroughfare) late at night in my ’79 Corolla when an approaching car crossed the double yellow into my lane about 2 blocks in front of me. There was a taxi on my right so I couldn’t move over, and plenty of traffic in the northbound lanes that the other driver had just departed, so I couldn’t move over there. With no out available I decided the only thing to do was to slam on my brakes in order to reduce the force of collision and brace for impact. Maybe it was the sound of my brakes, but the other driver suddenly realized where he was heading and slammed on his brakes, skidding to a stop mere feet from my front bumper. We sat for a moment staring at each other while traffic flowed by us on each side, then pulled into clear lanes and went our seperate ways, waiting for the adrenaline levels to subside.

    • 0 avatar
      mypoint02

      I had a very similar experience to yours that I thought of when I saw this headline. Mine was on I-80 in Iowa in the middle of a thunderstorm. I was driving my VW GTI. Traffic was moving very slowly because of the heavy rain. I looked up in the rear view and saw a car coming at me at full highway speed. There weren’t many places for me to go. It was two lanes with a gravel/grass median and I was in the left lane. I saw the other driver trying to stop at this point, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I briefly contemplated going left but quickly realized that’s where they were probably going to go, so I dropped the clutch and steered towards the center line to clear as much space as possible. They skidded past about five cars in the median, lucky to not hit anyone. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I think it was a Trailblazer or Grand Cherokee, so it wouldn’t have been a match for my VW. The whole thing couldn’t have lasted more than 10 seconds, but it felt like forever. I’ve had other close calls over the years, but that’s the only one I know I wouldn’t have walked away from if it had gone the other way.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Well, there have been many but I will go with the latest one. Happened on the Thursday before Thanksgiving this year. Was at a light where there are multiple lanes that split to two different roads (and one left turn) across a busy four lane 30 mph secondary road. I was in second gear (it’s a stick) and was too lazy to use 1st gear. When the light went green, the truck chugged a little bit against the higher gear and I slowly moved. Good thing, coming from my right was a pick up (same make/color as mine) moving at about 45-50 mph. Blew right thru the light, barely missed me and t-boned this poor bastard in a PT Cruiser. Had I taken off in first gear, that would have been me. He was airlifted to Boston (about 30 miles away) with life threatneing injuries. Big holy-crap moment for me..

    • 0 avatar
      let_that_pony_gallop

      You sir have just proved that lazyness is not always a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      phlipski

      Similar experience here. In college I was at a red light. When it turned green I stalled my car (5-speed jetta). As I was re-starting the engine a truck blew through the red light. I thought, “Shit I would have been t-boned on the driver side had I not stalled.” I had been driving a standard for about 3 years by then so stalling was a fairly rare occurrence.

      Another time I was pulling a boat in my 1989 suburban. It had just started to rain, and I was going about 30 miles an hour when the light ahead turned from green to yellow to red. I gently got on the brakes (no abs, or trailer brakes) and locked up, and I alternately let off, and got on only to constantly lock up. I just laid on the horn, and proceeded to slide right through the intersection as cross traffic stood and waited for me to skid through!

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      If there were one piece of advice I’d give all new drivers, its that a green light or having the right of way is, at best, a tentative indication that it might, might, be safe to proceed. There are a large number of special snowflakes out there and they drive too.

      • 0 avatar
        mitchw

        Bingo. I avoided a T-boning because I looked left as I entered an intersection, and through the line of cars stopped at their red light espied a car approaching the intersection in the open left lane, but not slowing down. In an instant I knew the driver was being blinded by the setting sun(but oblivious to the line of stopped cars in the right lane). And I hit the brake, watching her whiz by, and getting an electric nauseous feeling all over like.

        Turn your heads all the way kids.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Also, when you are pulling out onto a road from a stop, the previous car on that road having a right-turn signal on is only an advisory. So many people get into wrecks by assuming that the right-turn signal necessarily means the driver will slow down and turn.

        Just yesterday, I avoided a car going full speed through a red light by checking before proceeding. The woman in the right lane of cross-traffic was heading straight for the freeway on-ramp just beyond the intersection, oblivious to the fact that everyone in the left and center lanes was stopped at the red light.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Just a few years I blew through a red light. I was way too tired and probably a bit sick and just didn’t notice until I heard cars honking at me (having already gone through).

      I got lucky.

      I took steps to avoid driving at night or when I’m tired.

      • 0 avatar
        phlipski

        Once in college I was driving home around 3am after studying, and I was tired. I was stopped at a red light, and I somehow thought the light turned green. I started to drive through (there was no cross traffic) and 1/2 way through realized I was running a red light, and that the car behind me was a cop car. Instant ticket. The cop was nice, but he said, “I’ve got a guy in the back seat and he was yelling, ‘look at him run that red!’” There was no arguing that one, I was caught red handed! Luckily at 3am in that part of town, traffic was dead.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      This was me, except the opposing vehicle was a dump truck. There but for the grace..

  • avatar
    Silent Ricochet

    When I was a bit younger, my friends and I thought it was fun to drive around a nearby community and yell things out our windows. It was about midnight and we had just completed our first run. My friends all laughing hysterically wanted to go for another round, so I turned my Cavalier around and went back. After driving through the town, turning around and driving through it once more (to head the correct direction home) I reached the outskirts of the village and soon thereafter a nice wooded area and a beautiful twisty road. This road leads to the main road that runs straight through my town a few miles away.

    Still recovering from our laughter I notice two pairs of headlights come screaming around the corner in my rearview mirror. I figured it was just a couple of kids like us racing around. Suddenly, and I’m not kidding, a Toyota Sienna Minivan passes us, get in front of us, and slams on the brakes fishtailing and blocking most of the road. With impeccable reflexes I somehow dodged the minivan by only a foot or two, slammed my car into 2nd and gunned it. The chase was on.

    This was not the right car to get into a chase with. 3 Kids including me put a strain on my otherwise peppy engine and to make things worse, this entire road was downhill. I tossed this poor car around those turns better than I thought I could slowing down periodically. Those minivans couldn’t keep up they were too heavy. Then it happened. Brake Fade. I was nearing the main road on a busy weekend night doing 40mph with no brakes. I Put the car in 3rd, and engine broke down the hill until my brakes cooled off. Then I noticed the minivans had caught up. The first minivan again tried to pass me on the left at the stop sign I was waiting at to cut us off. Then I saw my chance, a break in the traffic. I shoved my shifter left, then forward into first and took off shifting at 6k every to every gear.

    That Toyota Minivan was so fast for some reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. This chase went on for almost 20 minutes. I eventually veered off the main road close to where I lived and took a back road that I regularly tossed my car around like an idiot. Once again, the corners were too much for the minivan squad. I was able to get away to arrive back at my house safely. The adrenaline rush was insane. My friends and I all stepped out of my Cavalier Z24 all letting out a sigh of relief, the engine and exhaust tinking and clinking from the heat, my drum brakes filling the air with a distinctive smell.

    I promised myself I would never do something stupid like that again, let alone drive like that with other people’s lives in my hand. Looking back at the whole thing I can only shake my head in disapproval. I understand that kids do dumb things like that, but I can’t help but think that things could have gone much worse that night.

    • 0 avatar
      WRohrl

      Siennas (at least the 2004-2009′s) are not underpowered, they have a surprising amount of power from that 3.3/3.5 depending on the year. Ours sported a Nurburgring sticker on the back and I have a great pic of it lining up at the start line at Bonneville during SpeedWeek. Well, OK, it was the second lane that was not being used that day but it made for a great pic! Many people have underestimated the Sienna when merging onto a highway…

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        Yeah the thing was seriously fast. The V6s they put into those now-a-days are pretty impressive. When I think minivan, I think 99 Dodge Caravan with that God awful 2.4 in it haha.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        How does it compare with a Honda Odyssey V6?

        The closest call I had is probably, on a two lane road, in icy conditions, just north of South Lyon (which must be some sort of epicenter of bad driving), I saw an Odyssey coming in the other lane, and he apparently gunned it after somebody else in front of him had turned. That minivan snapped right, and so I started braking, but then he did a hard left to over-correct while accelerating, at which point the van became airborne, and then it planted in the ditch on my side of the road, a couple yards in front of where my car stopped. The woman in the truck behind my kindly avoided plowing through, and she joined the Odyssey in the ditch.

      • 0 avatar
        WRohrl

        Our Sienna was a 2005 XLE with the 3.3,, we lost it in a housefire, we now have a 2006 Odyssey EX-L with the 3.5. The Sienna felt more powerful to me. I also recall it handling better. When we bought the Sienna I looked at it but was pretty sure I would want the Odyssey. After driving both back to back I was surprised to realize the Sienna was much more appealing. Now that we have the Odyssey I like it better than when I first drove one and find it much more attractive both inside and out (I know it’s a low bar…), but still think the Sienna was the better car. I do like that the Odyssey takes regular vs the Sienna’s thirst for Premium and the gas mileage is better by a good 20% in my experience. I think the VDC helps a lot. At the end of the day, both are great vans, but if I was in the market for a NEW one, I’d be taking a hard look at the Chrysler and the Kia and going as cheap as possible. No $40K+ loaded up new van for me.

      • 0 avatar
        JREwing

        My mother’s ’04 Sienna had the combination of a fairly revvy 3.3L V6 and a short 1st gear; it hauled itself around fairly impressively and would roast its skinny front tires at will. The SAE ratings showed the 3.3L good for 230hp and 242 lb-ft; Car & Driver’s test showed 7.8 seconds 0-60 and 16.2 @ 87 mph in the 1/4 mile.

        The ’07 model came with a 3.5L version rated at 266 hp and 248 lb-ft; that was good for 7.2 seconds 0-60 and 15.7 @ 91 mph in the 1/4 mile in a contemporary Car & Driver test.

        Oh, and I can safely say the only thing more jacked up than the roads in and around South Lyon were its drivers. It’s a small town overwhelmed by suburban Detroit, and the roads were never expanded to accommodate traffic. So, heavy traffic + idiot drivers + stupid roads = dangerous driving.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So your first trip through town was near midnight, and after your second trip it was a “busy weekend night” at 12:30 A.M.?

    • 0 avatar
      let_that_pony_gallop

      A friend of mine has a very similar story that did not end as nicely as yours. It ended with his ford ranger wrapped around a tree, his passanger had an injured leg and shoulder, and his shoulder was injured, with both of them being airlifted to Ann Arbor. The xbox survived though!

  • avatar
    stottpie

    this is one of those articles where everyone rushes to write their own comment/story, and no one replies to other peoples’

    just watch

  • avatar
    DougD

    1990, I was driving home from College on the Interstate, poking along at 55mph because my AMC Matador got terrible mileage if I went faster and I was broke.

    I was struck from behind by a Ford Taurus, the guy was doing work in his lap with the cruise control on. The sloped nose of the Taurus scooped up the back of my car and put it down sideways.

    I went across the grass median sideways and into oncoming traffic, although I later found grass jammed inside the tire beads I was lucky that the tires didn’t pull off the rims & roll the car. I was also lucky that I slid through a gap in the oncoming traffic (still sideways) and basically parallel parked on the far shoulder, right behind a car that happened to be stopped.
    When the cops arrived I had to walk him through my path, because he didn’t believe I hadn’t moved the car following the accident, which was difficult because my legs had turned to Jello by that point.
    The Taurus got towed, but I was able to drive the Matador home, although I had to exit the Interstate to get turned around in the correct direction.

    Still gives me weak knees to think about it over 20 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      Pretty insane. I would have probably permanently stained my driver seat.

      How didn’t the cops beleive you though.. Did they think that you drove the car across the median and into oncoming traffic after the accident? Because that would be just about the dumbest thing you could possibly do lol.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I have had a few close calls, I have to give credit to our dear good Lord.
    Is always a split sec decision.
    when i was living up northern BC, coming down to van was a real adventure.

    one time we went back to the house to unplug a notebook power pack, thought it maybe unsafe to be on for 3 days.
    when I resume the journey I saw a p/u truck in flames, the 2 driver didnt survived, say if I never went back it could have been us or behind him!

    Another time I delayed a bit when leaving the gas station, by the time I proceed i saw a logging truck lay on the side of hwy, it could have been us too!
    I should really count my blessings.
    I know someone higher up is watching me.
    God bless all of us, keep the sticky side down, shiny side up, appy motoring.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Grandpa wanted to go to Sears. It’s about a 30 mile drive on twisty curved filled road built in the 1930′s. He wanted to drive my Prelude on the way home. Going thru a set of left-right curves with double yellow lines. Look up and there’s some butthead passing, heading directly towards us. The old man downshifted drove off the road and we both cussed the guy passing who still in the wrong lane. He drove back on the road, maintaining speed all the way. He looked at me and said if traffic wasn’t so heavy we oughta chase that silly SOB down.

    • 0 avatar
      Redshift

      Your Grandpa is awesome.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Thanks, and he always ordered the biggest engine he could get in his car. Mom’s his chauffeur since he decided to quit driving. He used to have a contract to drive Fords back from Detroit to Indiana. He smirked while telling that story and said weren’t many speed limits back then, you drive faster at night.

  • avatar
    let_that_pony_gallop

    The closest call i’ve ever had wasn’t to far from where Ronnies took place, just north of Fenton, MI on I-75 south bound. I was at the I-75/US-23 split in the middle lane to get on US-23. Just before the split occured a semi to the right of me decided he wanted to be on 75 and not 23, and started coming into my lane this forced me to start creeping into the lane next to me, which was already occupied by a pickup truck. Luckily the pickup saw what was happening and got over into the next lane to give me room to get out of the semis way. Not only did that get the adreniline pumping I now had to go way out of my way to get home becuase I was now stuck on I-75, instead of US-23.

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I was driving North on I-95 through North Carolina, coming back to Virginia Beach from a wedding in Wilmington. We were going the average 70mph or so that everyone else was doing on the highway. I was driving my old acrua RSX-S, and at the time it was shod in a set of Hankook RS-2s, I was lazy and didn’t take them off after the last week’s autocross. This is important.

    The SUV ahead of me ran over a shredded tire in the middle of the road and launched the whole mess airborne. It was on an arc that would have directly impacted my hood and windshield. Reacting in a fraction of a second, I dodged with the car and it missed clipping the driver side mirror by about 12-18 inches. The maneuver was violent enough that it woke my wife up, who was sleeping off the wedding from the previous night. And she sleeps hard the day after partying.

    I was running a very aggressive rear sway, and being summer had it set in the stiff position since I would go to one autocross event or another every couple weeks. I credit the save to the tires, as the extra grip kept the car in check. had I had a harder compound on, I’m almost certain the rear end would have tried to come around during the dodge the way I had the rear sway set.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Stuff like that has to make I-95 America’s Least Favorite Highway

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      That happened to me, too.

      I-95 about 5 miles north of the GA/FL border. Family trip to take a cruise out of Jax Beach cruise terminal. Had the old ’99 CR-V loaded down with all four of us, plus a week’s worth of gear. Everyone else was asleep. This was 2004, so I was 18. It was four or five lanes down each side at that point, and a Grand Cherokee to my front left that had just passed us hit a tire. Took the whole front end of the Jeep off, and of course the tire and Jeeps parts flew toward us (one lane to the right of them and about 4-5 car lengths back). Thankfully I was able to avoid it to the right. My screams and wheel-sawing woke everyone up. I was rather shaken up. I don’t think I’d really had as close a call up to that point in my driving career.

      I hate that road.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      I am a fellow I-95 hater.

      I actually hit tire debris on 495 on the newly completed Wilson Bridge around DC. It got flipped into my path of travel by the truck ahead, and I didn’t have time to react – I must have been travelling too closely, it’s hard to leave space when traffic is heavy and moving.
      It was a pretty small piece, but boy did it made a huge impact. It totally demolished the front right bumper cover support structure – I had to pull over and tear out the wheel well liner because it was rubbing on my tire where the supports were collapsed.

  • avatar
    otter

    When I was in in college in the mid ’90s, I was driving my Fiat Spider one sunny weekend summer afternoon in Atlanta. Taking the pleasantly winding, hilly and pretty route through Buckhead on the way back home, I got to a red light at Habersham Road where it crosses West Paces Ferry, just down from the Governor’s Mansion. WPF runs along a ridgeline and Habersham drops off pretty well on either side, so there is very little visibility on either side when you’re waiting to cross. My light went green and I must have been a little distracted because it was about three-mississippi before I let out the clutch. Just as I did so, a limo blew through the red light at about 40mph. I would have been t-boned and probably killed if I hadn’t waited.

    I have long since learned to check for flaagrant red-light-runners before crossing intersections. I’ve got more money in the game, so to speak, these days since I get everywhere by bicycle.

  • avatar
    grasscutter

    I was on a business trip in a 2003 Maxima. North Georgia mountains. Curvy road but not too bad so I was going about 50mph. As I came around a blind corner I see a line of cars going about 10mph behind a DOT grass-cutting tractor. Right hand side is a rock wall with no shoulder. I was able to slow down safely and just as I did I looked in my rear view mirror to see an 18 wheeler also going about 50 mph with a panicked driver. He pulled the truck into the lane for oncoming traffic to stop as there was no other place to go. By the time he stopped, my car was almost even with the rear wheels of the trailer. He would have plowed through me and the 5 other cars in front of me. Luckily for all of us he was an excellent driver and there was no oncoming traffic.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    Like everybody, I’ve had a few over the years, but, the one that has always stuck with me:
    Commuting to work one day on a Jan/Feb morning. Had not snowed recently, but, there were banks on the side of the road from past snowfalls, and a bit of snow and ice along the sides of the road.
    In stop and go traffic in the downtown core. 4 lanes (2 in each direction) on the main road into downtown Halifax.
    I am in the far right lane (nobody beside me in the other lane heading my direction), probably 300 meters back from a traffic light. Light turns green, but traffic in my lane barely moves due to congestion on other side of intersection.
    I notice the first car at the light in the far left lane (oncoming traffic)had floored the throttle away from the light. (Maybe to get ahead of traffic beside him? Or, he’s just an idiot.) Anyway, he’s against the curb at full throttle, he’s running over the snow/ice on the edge of the road, losing traction, and get’s into a tank slapper.
    Tank slapper turns into a full-on high speed spin/slide and he starts crossing the second oncoming lane, and the second lane in my direction, apparently trying to throttle out of it as the speed isn’t bleeding off. He’s on angle for my drivers door. I am wishing with all my might the traffic ahead of me to move, and I am crowding the bumper of the car ahead of me. Traffic moves just enough, and I roll forward. Unfortunately the car behind me isn’t as observant and also rolls forward. Car comes sliding across the road at 30-40km/h misses my quarter panel by about a car length and has a head-on collision with the car behind me.

    That drove home to me how important it is to keep watching what cars around you is doing, even when jammed up in stop and go traffic. Don’t go to sleep.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Eight years ago I was driving our Grand Voyager across the Pennsylvania Turnpike at night in a rainstorm. We had my mom with us, and so it was the only time we traveled with 8 passengers instead of the usual 7, meaning two of our kids were ‘double-buckled’. Everyone was asleep but me, of course.

    As I was slowly passing an 18-wheeler (didn’t want to jet past him due to the rain), I got up to the end of the cab when I noticed his left turn signal was on. Next I noticed he started to move into my lane to pass the truck in front of him! In rapid succession I slammed on the brakes, laid on the horn, and flashed the high beams, while maneuvering as close to the Jersey barrier as I could without hitting it, as the tires ground into all the debris that collects there.

    That truck never heard or saw my car, and he passed so close that the high rear bumper on his trailer struck my passenger mirror. All it received was a cosmetic scrape. I couldn’t believe how close we all came to being squashed right there.

    To make matters worse, I called the state police with his numbers immediately afterward (which I got after I caught up with him), and they refused to do anything because an accident hadn’t actually occurred. All I wanted was for them to tell him to be more careful, but that wasn’t to be.

    I’ll never travel with an overloaded (passenger-wise, anyway) car again, and I’ve learned to be more meaningful when passing.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Back in 2006 I was driving a 2003 Chevy Astro AWD van with my family aboard on the interstate at night during a snow storm. A plow had made one pass previously on the right lane, but it was snow covered and the shoulder hadn’t been plowed. Traffic was non-existent and we were in the middle of nowhere.

    I was traveling at about 50-55 mph when a guy in a Pontiac Grand Prix comes up behind us, and then pulls into the left lane to pass. Well, he got up even with us and he drifted over to the left shoulder a little too far and his wheel caught the deeper snow and began to pull him into the ditch. I watched him crank his wheel back towards me to get back on the road. He over did it, and began to spin. I had begun braking as soon as he started passing me, and at this point I laid on the brakes, but we were on an icy patch and we kept going at the same relative speed. It was like I was watching in slow motion as his car spun 2 times right next to me. I really thought he was going to end up hitting me and sending us both into the ditch. I could see the terrified look on his and the front seat passenger’s face. It was surreal. Thankfully, as the car began it’s 3rd revolution it shot into the center median/ditch in a cloud of snow.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    It was just after Christmas 2003, and I was headed on I-275 E toward Kentucky. My younger brother, sister, and a friend were on board with me. We’d had a snow and some ice the day before, but the roads were 90% cleared off. My 93 Audi 90S had no problem thus far (Note: S, not Quattro).

    I was doing about 75MPH in the leftmost lane, since the snow was cleared well off, about a foot or so high in the median. I had a good foot of clearance between the left solid line before the snow pile started. Then I saw it as I was rounding a bend in the road, a patch of shine about 15 or 20 feet in front of me. There wasn’t enough time for me to change lanes, I had seen it too late and was going too fast. So I said to everyone calmly, “Hang on, we’re about to crash.”

    As soon as the tire hit the patch, the back end spun around to the left, and the front tires that had lost grip and gained again went off to the right. I jammed the brakes as the ABS pushed hard back at me, and around we went. All the way around, 180 degrees. It would have kept going another 90 degrees if the front drivers side fender hadn’t slapped up against the hard snow/ice bank. We came to a stop, my heart rate faster than I had ever felt before. I looked around to the others in the car, everyone’s eyes wide open in shock. I said, “Well, there we are.” And punched it to get back in the flow of traffic. The drivers behind me had seen it happen and all slowed down. As they passed me by a moment later their faces were priceless!

    For the record I drove slower the rest of the day, and there was not even a scratch to the car.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    May 2007: I was driving back from Houston to the halmet of Onalaska, Texas to take my mother home after a follow up visit to her breast cancer surgery. Texas is laced with two lane blacktops, state highways, and Farm to Market roads (FM) with 70 MPH speed limits – even with my heavy foot in a lot of places it feels about 10 to 15 MPH too high.

    As he headed past Livingston and in the home stretch, in the no man’s land between the two towns, a larger SUV approaching from the opposite side started to slow down to make a right turn. What happened next was absolute terror.

    The woman driving behind the SUV in a Mitsibishi Eclipse was trying to light a cigarette and had dropped her lighter on the floor board of the front PASSENGER seat. Instead of pulling over or otherwise saying forget it solve the nic fit, she does what anyone else would do a two lane 70 MPH black top while following too close to an SUV. Yup, bent over to the passenger side floor to get her lighter. This happened just as the SUV was slowing down. She rams the SUV from behind at full 70 MPH.

    This suddenly sends car parts into the air, and pushes the SUV out of control forward, right into our lane. All of my autocross and DPE training kicked in automatically. Evaluate – go left – certain death into spiral wreckage of cars. Brake and hold straight, head on collision with SUV is guaranteed, no guarantee that the soft braked Camry my mother owned would scrub enough off and her post surgical body sure wouldn’t take the g-forces of an accident. Go right, SUV is still drifting that way, I’ll have to go to the grass and reign it in without going into the drainage ditches that line the road. Of course all of this passes, as anyone who has been in a situation like this in the tiniest fraction of a second.

    I go right, hard, the Camry tires squealing in protest. Threshold brake and steer, keep that bank account at 99.5%. We just get by the SUV and I mean with maybe an inch to spare. My biggest fear as we glided by is that he would tap the rear of the Camry and “pit” me. I reigned in the rest of the speed before getting all four back on the blacktop and immediately stopped.

    The Eclispe was now facing northbound, back toward Onalaska, and on its side in the ditch. The SUV was now basically in the middle of 190, roughly pointing in the direction of travel it was in. I called 911 immediately.

    I checked the Eclipse driver first, who was climbing out of her car. Her “mistake” of taking the eye off the road was later told to us while my mother was talking to her (who then lectured her on cigarettes and how tobacco killed her husband).

    The driver of the SUV was shaken but not injured. The Eclipse was an utter and total loss – but I have to admit, the car “did its job” in keeping her safe.

    When the police arrived we made our statements and left – and my mother and I laughed a little about the irony how she has beaten cancer surgery to almost be taken out on the drive home. But it was the closet call I’ve had of two. The other one, also on 190 between Onalaska and Livingston.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Spring of ’88 east of Wenatchee. In a early 80′s Subaru GL 1500 SW. Headed east towards George. My wife gasps as a fast approaching Winnebago drops a trailer that begins crossing center line 150′ in front of me. Our collision speed well in excess of 105-110 mph. I immediately juke right then straighten to avoid a bridge abutment on right and come to a full stop on bridge, so close to barrier no one can open right hand doors. Trailer passed on left as I juked and tore off driver side mirror and taillight and passed in front of friends Civic behind me..he laid 100′ of rubber stopping to avoid trailer. My avoidance was pure instinct and I braked after trailer hit because of microsecond dealy getting foot on brake. ~ 1 second when I saw trailer to when it hit. If I hadn’t juked right, trailer would have hit us head on.

    4 in my car, 2 in civic. We all could have been killed in an instant. Trailer carried a glider (plane) and owner admitted to forgetting to tighten ball. He was driving it on chains when it broke free and shot off across highway into desert, undamaged.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      It’s the other vehicles/objects losing control and careering into oncoming traffic that are the scariest. And when I think things are bad here, I just remember one evening’s foray into Russian dashcam footage to remind me of how much worse things could be.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I had the same feeling after viewing Russian dashcam footage. I get that there are a lot of ill-maintained vehicles there, but wow, that’s some scary stuff.

        Also, have you seen the hagwalla videos from the Middle East?

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        [click] [scan] Oh dear, it sounds like I have a new search term to explore. Automotive break dancing is all I can think of as a description.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    In a very early 1st-gen Saturn SW2 (2nd off the production line and with a few assembly quirks to back up the dealer’s claim), on a trip south returning to Colorado Springs along I-25, I was passing a line of slower moving cars as I approached the crest of the hill at the north end of Monument. Those CO residents who have braved that particular bit of blind hill know how scary it can be if you encounter slow moving traffic in your lane as you clear that hump.

    I encountered stopped traffic.

    This wasn’t especially terrifying as I was ready for that situation and brought my speed down to zero with adequate distance between my car and the vehicle in front of me. The traffic had stopped to let road crews clear the wreckage of an accident further along the road, approximately three quarters of a mile distant, near the low point of the interstate along that section. As I sat idling, wondering when traffic would resume moving, I caught a flash of motion in my rear view mirror as another vehicle, moving far too quickly for any conditions, appeared at the top of the hill. I quickly shifted into gear and my compact wagon experienced its first and only tire-spinning launch, as I turned left and onto the half shoulder, half grass area of the highway, accelerating as hard as I could. I could see out of the corner of my eye the first driver I passed shouting at me. An instant later, the familiar crunching sound of imploding steel and glass reached me even as I was passing the 3rd car in line, which was also not spared the indignity of suffering an impact it had nothing to do with. I drove for a couple seconds longer, then stopped the car and stepped out to look back at the carnage. In total, there were over 5 cars damaged by the initial aggressor, including at least 1 in the adjacent lane as one of the victims was knocked askew into its companion.

    I am fortunate enough to avoid being involved in the occasional bit of carnage which occurs along that section of road, but I still mentally shake my head in astonishment at the behavior of marketing groups whenever I drive south along that particular stretch of interstate. In the past couple of years, visible shortly after you clear the crest of the hill at Monument, a brightly illuminated, ad-shifting video billboard has been erected as the first object you see on the way down that treacherous hill.

    • 0 avatar
      Stephen82

      Great thinking and reaction really saved your butt! I never understand why people speed over the crests of hills like that. You can’t possibly know what’s coming. Excellent lesson in an active safety maneuver!

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Nice move.

      I can’t stand those video billboards. If I had to look at one on a regular basis, I’d probably end up incapacitating it.

  • avatar
    dswilly

    Years ago as a river guide in Alaska I was following a Suburban full of clients pulling a trailer of canoes without lights down a series of gravel roads to a river put-in. The driver was driving very fast and since I didn’t know the way I was trying to keep up with the dust cloud. All of a sudden the dust cleared and I was staring at a bunch of canoes stopped right in front of me. Not wanting to hit them I swerved hard right to the ditch which was an down sloping embankment full of alders and willow that dropped about thirty feet. I plowed down the hill through the brush, my trooper on the edge of rolling over the entire time. It finally came to a halt, balanced on two wheels for what seemed forever then dropped down on its tires. Anyone who’s been to Alaska knows how think the alders and willow can get and I was buried in it, stuck for sure I thought. I shifted the truck into 4L and plowed right out and back up on the road pulling up next to the driver of the Suburban. I asked “what was that all about?” she said she missed a turn and stopped. The clients were looking at me with these huge eyes when one said “All we could see when you passed us was the bottom of your truck airborne over the embankment”. Not wanting to make them feel less confident about us, I acted like nothing really happened and we went canoeing for the day.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    Some of you are driving way, way, way too fast in winter conditions. 55 to 75 MPH on potentially icy roads?? Really? Madness.

  • avatar
    Stephen82

    I’m definitely in the crowd that has too many to list (I’ve spent a lot of time in my life on the road), but I have fortunately never actually had an accident.

    The most memorable close encounter occured about 2 years ago. I was driving on I-277 in Charlotte on my way home from work. It had rained earlier in the day so the road was still a bit slick. There were four lanes of traffic in the direction I was headed. The far left was an exit only lane where the traffic was at a dead stop. The other three lanes were moving at about 60mph. I was in the middle of those three lanes and was trying to pass the care in front of me. I stupidly attempted to pass to the right, which put me in the lane right next to all the stopped traffic. Sure enough, some brain dead soccer-mom decided to pull into my lane from a dead stop.

    I don’t know how far ahead she was exactly, but it was close enough that braking alone would have put me in her backseat at almost full speed. I instictively cut left and unfortunately braked at the same time. I’m not sure exactly what my car did next, but I know I was moving sideways across lanes of traffic, trying desperately to correct the direction of my car, while constantly awaiting the force of a collision since it was rush hour. I was grimacing the whole time, waiting for an impact while still trying to control the car. When the car finally stopped I realized I was facing oncoming traffic. For a split second I gripped the steering wheel and awaited my fate. Then it registered to me that the oncoming traffic had come to a stop and there were cars in all three moving lanes just sitting there looking at me with mouths agape (a semi-truck being in the center lane).

    After what seemed an eternity (it was probably just a few seconds), I came to the conclusion that I hadn’t hit anyone or anything (such as the center dividing concrete barrier). I quickly did a three-point turn and proceded to pray and thank-god with extreme earnestness. The thing I remember thinking most vividly during all the sliding, skidding and turning was that I hadn’t paid my buddy yet for this car (it started as a loaner that I decided to buy), and therefore hadn’t changed over insurance yet. While not directly my fault, some better decision making on my part would have meant that this would have never taken place.

    My take-aways:

    Don’t be an idiot.
    Don’t pass on the right (especially next to stopped traffic).
    Buy cars with ABS.
    Don’t drive faster than conditions allow.
    I hate soccer-moms who drive like soccer-moms.

    • 0 avatar
      Alexdi

      > I stupidly attempted to pass to the right, which put me in the lane right next to all the stopped traffic.

      Yeah, that was more than a little stupid. One of the first things I taught my sister when she was getting her license was the danger of speed differentials. Doesn’t matter if they’re stopped, slowed, whatever. People are impatient and they always move to the open lane. She didn’t look, but you’d still have been at fault.

  • avatar
    Crabspirits

    I’ve had several close calls and accidents while racing, drifting, or just commuting, but this one was by far the most horrific to experience.

    I was coming home from school at night in my 300zx. It was raining hard and was very dark. I was following a lifted pickup. I had been following him for awhile, thinking how novel it was that my headlights perfectly illuminated his front axle. I saw the “body” before the truck reached it. The following happened in slow motion: I jammed the brake pedal, and the non-ABS equipped Z immediately locked up. The truck’s rear axle “pumpkin” clipped the corpse, and catapulted it at least 25ft into the air. I clearly remember looking up at it. It was on a perfect trajectory to land squarely in my windshield. I re-applied the brake more carefully, got feedback, and started slowing just in time. The carcass landed right in front of the bumper. When it passed the headlights, I realized that it was the largest German Shepard I’ve ever seen. It ripped my air dam off and started rolling under the car. I clearly remember hearing the sickly sound of bones breaking under the floorboards. The left side of the car lifted up and then the spinning began. I came to a stop in somebody’s front yard, 3ft shy of going into their living room. I often wonder what their reaction was when they came outside the next morning and saw the muddy skidmarks (I just left the scene).

    For about .7 seconds, I thought I was going to kill someone.

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      Here are some runner-ups. All 3 of these happened on different occasions of driving home from a night out in Chicago at @2AM.

      -On Lake Shore Dr., while passing Navy Pier, I’m doing about 50mph in the center lane. Suddenly I see a disheveled man in tux walking down the middle of my lane. I make an abrupt lane change to the left and almost roll my xB, narrowly missing him. I wonder if that dude died.

      -On I-55, zero traffic, doing about 75mph in the center lane. See something “funny” up ahead. I squint, and realize I’m about to hit a STOPPED Escalade (black, of course) with no lights on. Repeat the same maneuver as above. Pretty sure it killed somebody behind me.

      -Same spot as the Escalade, I fall asleep at the wheel. Wake up just as my driver’s mirror is about to touch the center divider. No recollection of driving the past 5 miles and foot still on the gas maintaining 80mph.

      I don’t go out much anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Speaking of road kill, in 2003 I was driving on the highway during broad daylight when I noticed the Dodge Intrepid far ahead of me suddenly swerved. From what I could tell, it looked like he just ran over a white cat that was running across the road.

      I was going to just drive my car over the fluffy carcass, since it was flat enough that I had the ground clearance to straddle it. Then, all of a sudden, the head popped up, and the yellow eyes were staring at me as if his life was about to end at my hands. I nailed the brakes, and that bought enough time for the cat to somehow manage to scamper his front 2 legs out and drag his now half-paralyzed mortally wounded body out of harms way onto the shoulder.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        I managed to slow enough from 80 mph to avoid a Golden Retriever crossing an interstate highway once.

        This was in a relatively unpopulated area (speed limit 70 in one of the first places speed limits were increased above 65), so I could only assume the dog had walked away from someone’s car on the shoulder and was looking for a grassy patch to pee on, rather than a neighboring dog that had busted through a fence.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      In the mid 80′s, I owned a modded 1985 Mercury Capri 5.0 RS. I worked for an aluminum extruder in Northwest Pennsylvania at the time. I could take the nice four lane freeway or some more entertaining back roads 17 miles to my home. This particularly dark, rainy night I chose the entertaining back road. I don’t know why. It was the end of a long day and I was t-i-r-e-d.

      As I’m driving along the rolling hills, the rain intensifies to the point where I needed the fastest wiper setting to see clearly. I was moving at a pretty good clip on this two lane when I realized the rainfall was heavy enough to cause my Goodyear Gatorbacks to hydroplane lightly. I had my high beam headlights on, but switched to the auxiliary driving lights to put more lumens on the road directly in front of me.

      As I crest a small hill, I see this thing dart out from the left of my field of vision. It looks like it’s black in color and on four legs (deer strikes are common all year long there). It spooked me so much I stood on the brakes hard. The car came to a slithering stop quite the distance away from my initial braking point. I ended up swapping ends and facing the direction I was coming. It was hairy…

      After the adrenaline had worn off and the rain subsided somewhat, I was curious as to what the heck it was that ran across my path. I drove back to where I thought I had encountered the apparition, but if there had been tracks, the rain had obscured them.

      To this day, I believe it was a large, black (or darkly colored) dog, like an Irish Wolfhound or something of that nature. Small deer don’t get that dark in the rain, and I really can’t imagine what else could be roaming around that part of NW Pennsylvania.

      For a few moments after the incident and because of my weariness, I wondered if I imagined it or had fallen asleep while driving and dreamed it. I’ll never really know.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        My guess is a black bear. They are very common in Appalachia, and you can occasionally catch a story of them being hit on the highway (a memorable one happened about two years ago, killing two motorcylists who collided with one on the same bike while riding).

        I’m assuming their range extends to the north and west. They are quite common around Pittsburgh and points south.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        Yeah that was a bear. They look like giant black poodles in the spring.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        At the time I was about 15 miles north of Sharon, PA, so I was a lot closer to the Allegheny mountains than the Appalachian mountains. Nonetheless, it could have been a juvenile bear.

        Regardless, I’m still not 100% sure if it even happened.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Buddy of mine nailed a good-sized black bear and totaled his ’99 Saab 9-5 a couple years ago. In of all places, Paramus NJ on the Garden State Parkway at ~5am. Right behind the IKEA there – the bear was evidently on his way for the Swedish Meatballs and not paying attention. :-) Did not do that much damage to the Saab, but it blew the airbags so the insurance company wrote off the car. Sad thing is an impact like that would not have blown the bags on a newer 9-5.

      • 0 avatar
        supremebrougham

        I was in Sharon back in September, on my way home from visiting my cousins in Allentown. Quaker Steak and Lube there is a must stop for me every time I pass through there. One of my favorite parts of the country!

  • avatar
    8rings

    A few years ago I was traveling on a back road in Oklahoma to an appointment. I was in a 07 Suburban, following behind a ridiculously slow Caravan. The lady driving was going 45 in a 55 and crawled away from every 4 way stop, taking what seemed like a 1/2 mile to get back up to speed. I grew ever more frustrated as the miles passed. Finally the road straightened out and there were some opportunities to pass. I got a section with no oncoming traffic and I decided to go for it. Right about the time I got to speed and started across the yellow I stopped. For whatever reason I decided that I didn’t want pass right then. Only a second later she started braking for a 4 way stop. Holy crap, I hadn’t seen the intersection coming up. If I had pulled out to pass I would have been accelerating through 70mph or so, and even if I had seen the stop sign there is no way I would have stopped in time. I would have blown right through it and t-boned whoever was passing though. Makes you stop and think about not being in such a hurry!

    Now one not my fault…Going thorough Wyoming on a two lane road with very high speed limits I was met by a Chevy van passing a semi. He just kept going for it. He ran me off onto my shoulder at 75mph. Luckily there was room to do that speed on the shoulder. What an accident that would have been, as it would have wrapped the semi into it as well.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    To continue in Ronnie’s old VW vein, I was heading home from college in my ’65 Beetle during a Midwestern winter storm that contained just about every form of frozen precipitation possible. Not only did my Beetle have the same lack of factory heat/defrost as Ronnie’s bus, I had previously rear-ended a Chevy that left the front hood deformed enough that driving at highway speed created a 35 mph draft thru the cabin, necessitating driving bundled up in multiple layers of winter wear, keeping a blanket across your legs, and using a hand-held ice scraper to clear your frozen breath off of the windshield. I was in the final stretch of the trip, with boring stretches of driving in the semi-clear tracks made by trucks in the right lane alternated with white-knuckle efforts to pass those same trucks in the uncleared left lane. The rear-engined Beetle had good traction but was susceptible to loss of steering control anytime something adverse happened. I had just managed to get past another of the semis and was gingerly edging back into the clearer right lane when either a wind gust or a submerged frozen rut in the snow/ice pulled the steering off course, sending me into a 540º spin that left me in the right lane facing an on-coming semi. Somehow I managed to pull a quick U turn into the snow filled left lane since there was no way that the semi could have stopped on the slick pavement. He plowed past me, covering the Beetle in slush as I tried to regain some momentum. I pulled in behind him and settled for his speed for the rest of the (thankfully short) trip.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ll list my two closest encounters that I’ve had when driving a car:

    1. I was simply going to the parking lot at my local library only to find a complete (censored) in a Miata swerving about who almost hit me head on, luckily I stopped. Had that Miata hit me, the owners truck driving tailgating buddy would have sandwiched the Miata between him and my Volvo.

    2. I was taking a smoking brake-less VW Type 3 to my house that had no plates on it and went by a police officer… who ignored me. The scariest bit was getting the gutless hunk up the driveway with no brakes and not smashing into the house. I ended up hitting the trashcans and bending the Type 3s bumper. I want to note that Type 3 was the worst car that I’ve ever owned, even when it was new I’m sure that it sucked pretty badly.

    So, I learned that good brakes are very important on a car and people can’t notice big black Volvos, but they can notice a rusty decrepit VW Fastback.

  • avatar
    toplessFC3Sman

    It was one of the winters when my RX-7 decided not to work, so I was borrowing my brother’s $700 ’87 Volvo 760 for the winter (he was in school in NYC, so didn’t need it), which turned out to be absolutely awesome in the snow. Fairly heavy car, RWD, automatic, skinny wheels w/no-name all-seasons, but a pretty short wheelbase & tons of steering angle made for some impressive slides (when the transmission would cooperate anyway).

    Anyway, I went with two friends up to the Sno*Drift rally in N. Michigan that year, and I was driving back with them asleep in the passenger seat & back seat, pretty late on a Saturday night. It had been snowing on & off that weekend, and the Volvosaurus handled the whole thing with aplomb so far. We were in the right lane on 75 going south at about 70 mph. At this point the highway was divided, with 2 lanes and a break-down lane on each side with a barrier on the far side of the break-down lane, but no overhead lights. There were very few cars on the road, and the road itself was plowed well, with only a little snow on the shoulder & break-down lane, so I felt confident doing 70 – 75 mph even though it was dark & below freezing.

    We came around a gentle left-hander, and probably 200 yards ahead there were some flashing lights, like an ambulance or something. White-Red-White-Red-White-Red… I didn’t get the chance to take a closer look, because suddenly the old PRV V6 starts spinning its little heart out at redline instead of ~3500 RPM. Tach & speedo are buried at 7000 & ~120 mph, and I’m a bit confused, thinking the transmission just died, because the car is still rolling along nice & straight, not losing speed or anything.

    Thinking that we just had some sort of mechanical failure, I let off the gas so that the engine won’t destroy itself too, and then… the car snaps completely sideways, pointed directly at the barrier on the right side of the road. Ohmigod, Ohmigod, lots & lots of steering lock, and the car seems to just pause there, not getting any closer to the barrier, not spinning anymore, just sliding sideways down the highway at what was probably still 65-70 mph. Right around now, my previously slumbering passengers wake up and start screaming. I might be screaming too, I really don’t remember.

    Ever so slowly (or so it felt), the front wheels begin to overtake the rears, until we’re pointed in the same direction we’re travelling again… At which point, we’re confronted with those flashing lights for a second time. The car is still moving at 55-60ish, not having lost much speed during the massive slide, but now, just off to our right in the break-down lane and moving into our lane is a pickup truck… facing us… pirouetting wildly… and we’re approaching it quickly. I throw the wheel to the left to avoid him, then to the right to keep from going off the road into the center median, then to the left again to catch the slide I’ve just induced with all this swerving. Our front bumpers passed probably 6 inches from each other at the closest point – him spinning, gripping the wheel with completely white knuckles & face, and us sliding past at another gratuitous angle, looking probably just as ridiculous.

    Fortunately, no contact was made, and after catching the second slide and a very extended braking distance, we stop on the shoulder & back up to see how he fared. As it turns out, the reason the engine hit redline in the first place was that we hit a huge patch of black ice, and the rear wheels were actually spinning at 120+ mph (the speedo ended at 90, but the needle was firmly buried past there), and when I let off, the weight shift helped to bring the back end swinging around. The guy in the truck ahead of us hit the same thing, which sent him spinning into the barrier on the right side of the road, which only made the spin worse & pushed him back in front of us, causing the little face-to-face that would have emptied our bowels had they actually contained anything. Eventually he stopped & pulled to the side, his compact pick-up a bit more compact (but with working lights still!). We helped duct-tape some of the more perilously hanging bits back onto his truck and carried on our way, going a bit more slowly. The only damage to the Volvosaurus – my friend in the passenger seat had squeezed the “Oh-Shit” handle on the door hard enough to break the plastic trim around the door handle embedded in it.

    I played a part in making it a close call, but there was a huge helping of fortuity/good luck/divine intervention or whatever you would like to call it as well.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Easy one. Rainy December day, driving a 1985 Honda Prelude. Driving about 45 in a 40 on a long sweeping counterclockwise curve, when a large truck coming at me (too fast), slides or drifts about 3/4 into my lane. Trees to my right, my only option is to cut into his lane, and try to avoid being pancaked. That send me into a spin, 2.5 times around, but by some miracle, as I spun across his lane, I managed to enter the driveway of a mostly empty parking lot (rather than the woods all around) where the last 1.5 spins finished. I ended up stopped, watching the truck try to regain its lane as it drove away. The FWD Prelude was prone to spinning when using any kind of evasive maneuver on wet or slick pavement. Once those small tires lost grip, the light rear end would easily step out.

  • avatar
    alexcassidy

    I was driving through Hollywood a couple years ago in a W126 420SEL with some… uh, mechanical character quirks when a Hummer H2 ran a red light at the intersection I was going through. I slammed on the brakes and it missed me by _inches_. (I know people tend to exagerrate distances in these sort of stories, but it really was inches. I expected him to clip me, really)

    Scared the shit out of me at the time, but if I’m being honest there’s no other car in which I’d rather get t-boned by a Hummer. It’s quite possible my car would have won.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Had a ’66 Dodge A-100 (like Murilee’s) and other than being more powerful, it was at least as dangerous as that VW bus. With more weight, the non-assisted single circuit drum brakes made mountain driving a careful exercise in gear selection and energy management. Conestoga wagon suspension didnt do much for handling, either.

    My worst close call was not involving my driving mistakes, but nearly being T-boned at an intersection with full traffic signals, but poor sight lines. Im headed south toward the green light and somehow, out of the corner of my eye, something doesnt seem right. Westbound, a Mercury Cougar is not slowing down at all. I just got stopped as the Merc flew right past, clearing by a couple of feet. Looking over at the signal, his was red, so the signal hadnt malfunctioned.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    In Vancouver BC, nearly being wiped out by the retarded populous in a car is a bi-weekly hazard. I’ve lost count of the number of emergency stops, steering manoeuvre’s, and underpant browning moments I’ve had on the roads here. I used to enjoy driving, but now I generally don’t.
    The closest lately was someone who for whatever reason (idiocy, blindness, inbreeding etc) did not see me in my BRIGHT RED Cobalt trundling up the road in PERFECT DAYLIGHT. They started to pull out from the right giving me less than 30 feet to react, but stopped dead in the road as I hit the horn and attempted to steer around them. I felt an impact as I skidded around the front of their car, so I pulled over to inspect the damage. The lady in the offending car jumped out shouting “I didn’t hit you!”, but there in the road was proof. I’d managed to knock her plastic license plate cover off the front of her car with the outside edge of my front right tire… now that’s close.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    Maybe not my worst but my most recent, late last Winter.

    Outside Detroit, driving SB on 275 between 14 and 94, with my 8 month pregnant wife in the back seat, large snow banks on both sides of the highway.
    The snow had long since been cleared off the roads, but it had gone from warmish the night before to super cold that morning and the melted runoff from the snowbanks was frozen into solid black ice across the highway. I hate driving in these conditions, mostly because some people don’t take it as seriously as I do.

    It’s 70 through there, but I was going maybe 45-50 due to the possibility of ice. Most of the people on the road were doing the same.
    In my rearview I see some (#*$%) person come flying up the left most lane, going a cool 85 in a top-heavy 15 year old minivan. Two lanes over and with no other cars around me I instinctively start to slow to get this person past me as soon as possible. As soon as they approach on the left their wheels hit a patch of ice, the car loses traction, overcorrects, and flies perpendicularly across the front of my car with maybe 5-10 feet to spare (at least it felt like it) where they rammed head first into the snow bank. Had I not dipped my speed seeing them (quickly) approaching in my rearview, they probably would have plowed right into the side of us.

  • avatar

    I had close calls in the past but not the heart stopping, underpants browning type that I can recall but…..
    Years ago I was out for my daily walk on a dark,snowy and cold night.
    On the back home I came up to a bus shelter beside a strip mall and paused to read the advert for the movie in the shelter, quickly decided the movie was lame and moved on. Seconds later (and yes it was seconds)an old Dodge pick up struck a car pulling out of the strip mall and with an explosion of plexiglass that Dodge plowed into the bus shelter I was standing in seconds before.
    Took the whole thing down.
    Stayed off the main streets after that episode, but even then I have been hit almost twice in the “safer” side streets, albeit no where near as close as this.

  • avatar
    Yoss

    I’ve had a few close calls, but there is one that I always think of first when this question comes up. I was a sophomore or junior in high school and driving my ’78 Trans Am. I grew up out in the country. Being young and dumb, driving entirely too fast on rock roads was par for the course. I was probably only doing about 50 but the road had been pretty recently re-rocked so handling was already a little squirrelly.

    In rural Kansas, fields and pastures are typically divided by thick rows of hedge trees. I had a hedge row on my right. Maybe 20 yards ahead there was another hedge row running perpendicular to the road. Through the gaps in the trees I caught a glimpse of a loose cow running full speed and I could tell it was headed straight across the road in front of me. I don’t know what spooked it, but it was really tearing along.

    It probably all happened in a split second, but instantly I knew that if I touched the brakes I was going to lose control and go off the road, or if I stayed on the road I’d just slide and scoop that cow straight up on to my hood. I punched the accelerator and eased to the left. I just beat him and he nearly ran into the side of my car. I even clipped the tip of his nose with my passenger mirror as I squeeked past.

  • avatar
    hal

    how about stalled in the center of I-69, car pointing the wrong way, at night, during an ice storm?
    even given the weather 50mph didn’t seem too fast until a deer bounced out in front of me. was able to restart the car and pull onto the shoulder facing the wrong way before more traffic arrived on the scene. waited about 10 minutes for a gap in the traffic, did a u turn and completed our journey.
    kids slept through the whole thing!

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    Pulaski Highway (Rte 40) on the DE/MD border, I was heading west at about 11:45 one night, and coming east down the westbound lane was a car at full speed. I was on my motorcycle so I swerved out of the way, but closing speed was probably about 100mph. I probably had about 200 yards, but it was still pretty scary, and I had the shakes after I pulled over onto the shoulder.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I’ve had a number of close calls with respect to winter driving, mostly from folks travelling too fast for conditions. I’ve even had the rear end of my Outback (manual trans model with 50/50 full-time AWD and limited slip rear) step out a little at highway speeds.

    But the closest call I’ve had happened summer 2011. I was traveling with the family through SLC from Boise on I-15 where speeds are typically 75-80 and as I was passing a concrete truck (type where drive sits over front axle and in the center) in the left lane (4 lanes), two right rear tires blew. This caused him to lose control and his truck acted like a pendulum. The car in front of me panicked as the cab of the truck came their direction and the rear 3/4 of the truck swayed into the #2 lane and as he tried to regain control, everything came back the other way towards us. I swerved into the median around the car in front of me and the car that was behind me got nailed the trailer. The car in front me ended up being hit by that car and the trailer. Several cars in the left two lanes (lane #3 and #4) hit in a chain reaction.

    It was very bad and we’re very lucky to get away safely. Once I got to a safe distance, I called 911. All they cared about is if anyone was injured. I said I couldn’t tell and they requested I go find out. I just told them people were injured so they would expedite sending response crews.

    It may not matter what type of vehicle I was driving, but it definitely made me appreciate our Outback a bit more with good responses and a relatively narrow body. However, I think my reaction would have actually been faster if I had an automatic. I had both hands on the wheel and the idea of just pushing down on the gas to increase speed is easier when you’re managing a situation than thinking and reacting by shifting and taking a hand off the wheel. Especially one as non-smooth as a Subaru.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I’ve had many a close encounter but I’ll tell you about my first.

    I was a Jr. in high school in Appalachia and going to my first prom. My dad let me take his 1964 Plymouth Barracuda (273 with 4 speeed). I picked up my date and my buddy and his girl and we arrived at the school gym for the festivities. We had a few sips from a hip flask (after all I was a dumb ass teenager) and then headed to an after prom party at another friends house. Not far from the high school, I stopped at an intersection and needed to make a left turn. My buddy in the back yells “Jump on it!” and I was happy to oblige. With an open differential, one tire started spinning and then hit a pile of loose gravel. The rear end broke loose. I’d only been driving for about six months so the concept of “counter steering” was about as familiar as quantum mechanics. So we proceed to make at least three 360s, go off the road and into a farmers field. I know the car went about 45 degrees up on the right side. Why it didn’t flip is a mystery to this day.

    After we settled down, I got out to survey the damage. The only thing I could see was a lot of mud and grass splattered all over the car. So we drive it over to the local high pressure wand car wash and hosed it down. Everything looked good under the feeble incandesent light so we piled in and went to the party.

    I got home about 3:00 AM Sunday morning and passed out. My dad was a Sunday school teacher and usually left for church about 8:00 AM. Suddenly I am beinng shaken and pummeled into consciousness by my dad who was cursing as only an Irishman can. “You Son of a Bitch (even my mother called me that) what the f**k did you do to my car”!!! Of course I was scared shitless and only managed a feeble “What do mean dad?” He jerked me out of bed made me put some clothes on and dragged me outside to where I’d parked the car in the early AM. It sat there on 4 flat tires. I had busted the beads on all 4 tires when I spun out. I’d also missed a ton of mud and grass in my attempts to clean it up.

    Needless to say, I was up shit crick without a paddle. I had to raid my college fund for the money to fix the tires and detail the car and I was grounded until the sun became a white dwarf. The good news is no one got hurt and the Barracuda had no permanent damage.

    I learned several lessons from this: Don’t drink and drive – ever. Know your limits as a driver. Always assume your teenagers are bent on killing themselves so make sure they take an extreme driving course that teaches them how to get out of those self inflicted situations.

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    About 8 years ago I left work early one day. It was pouring rain. I came to a stop at a stoplight and was at the back of the line in the farthest right lane. There was a car right beside me in the left lane so I was completely blocked in where I was.

    I looked in my rear view mirror and could see through the rain spotted window a large dump truck approaching from behind. It looked like it was coming up … really fast. Too fast. OMG that huge behemoth will NOT be able to stop in time even if the weather was bone dry, let alone in the pouring rain.

    With no possible way out of that situation, and without even enough time to unbuckle my seatbelt and jump out of the car, I was mentally preparing myself to accept that I would be crushed like a can between the dumptruck and the cars in front of me.

    When the truck was maybe 15 yards away I saw in my mirror that the driver mounted the curb and drove on the muddy grass. It skidded all along the grass that way and came to a stop 5 cars in front of me.

    Needless to say, I now take note of the weather whenever I am able to get off of work early.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    I can’t think of a single auto instance that brought me closer to possible death than a handful of motorcycle incidents I was involved in.

    One of many stories…

    I was riding my old CBR1100XX Blackbird in the middle of the evening and enjoying a high speed run down lightly used stretch of interstate. While I was taking risks and going beyond speeds most would consider responsible (150 mph +), I had some rules of engagement. One of those rules was that I never passed a car at more than 10 mph faster than that car was going, so I’d slow down to 80 to 90 mph (70 mph speed limit) to pass. This prevented me from being splattered on the back of a semi when the driver (understandably) didn’t catch me approaching at over 150 mph and made a lane change.

    So I slow to pass a truck and as I pull alongside he starts to move into my lane. The bike was in a high gear and I didn’t have enough thrust to complete the pass so I started slowing down as rapidly as I could. Frighteningly, I couldn’t get behind him before he completed his lane change, leaving me the two feet of space between the yellow line and the grass to maneuver the motorcycle; I could have reached out and touched the tires on his trailer.

    Thankfully there were no guard rails or a bridge to end my ride and I got behind him, confused. So I move over to the right hand lane to pass him and he moves over to that lane. At that point I’m thinking “hmm, well maybe he realized what he did and he’s moving over to let me pass.” I move over to the left lane to pass, and so does he…. at which point I realize that he just tried to kill me.

    With that in mind the problem is easy to resolve. I drop it down a couple of gears and leave him. A truck can’t make a lane change faster than a CBR1100XX can go from 70 mph to whatever it needs to to pass the truck.

    A few exits later I took an exit, had a smoke, and cleaned my shorts.

    I understand that I was riding like a hooligan, but I was doing so on a mostly empty stretch of road and I was taking care to not endanger anyone but myself. I didn’t deserve that.

  • avatar
    nickeled&dimed

    I have a few stories to share…
    Closest call was a slow speed encounter. The setting was: highschool, winter, night time, dropping a friend off at their house on an unfamiliar road. I had taken a back-road that cut off miles of the trip, and it started snowing… probably 1/2 hour but cold enough for accumulation. I’d not passed a car for at least that long, and when this unfamiliar road turned to gravel I slowed down some, but not nearly enough. The road went into some woods, and around a hill and blind, off-camber left hand turn I encountered another car coming the other way. I got on the brakes and nothing – ABS was chittering away but I don’t think the suburban slowed down more than a mile or two an hour. Steered as far right as I could and prayed, and the other car passed quite close.

    Another was with my father in my Uncle’s pickup truck. We were just pulling out of our driveway, and no sooner than we made the road (wide, gravel) a Jeep Cherokee crested the hill coming toward us on the wrong side of the road. They swerved, we stopped, and watched in the rear view as they swung from ditch to ditch and then shot off into a field. They caught a fencepost and the wire on the fence pulled it up and through the windshield. Not an “inches” story like the last one, but probably 10-15 feet.

    On our way to pick up some building materials we were pulling the flatbed trailer. Stopped at a gas station, and as soon as we pulled back onto the main road we could tell something felt wrong. When we turned off the trailer was swinging – we’d lost the entire hitch! don’t know how that happened… a lot of things had to happen for it to fall completely off. We left the trailer on the shoulder and circled back to look for it, then went to buy a replacement. We always use threaded chain links to keep the chains on, and now I know why.

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    Once when I took an on-ramp onto the 110 freeway in Los Angeles, the box cargo truck (e.g. Mitsubishi Fuso) in front of me clipped a light pole, and the pole started to fall down. We were accelerating to get onto the freeway, and there was no way I could have stopped short of the falling pole, so I sped up instead. It barely missed me.

    A friend of mine’s car was not as fortunate. Someone was cutting a tree down on a major roadway, and they apparently cut wrong, and the tree was falling into the roadway instead of harmlessly to the side, so suddenly this orange vest-wearing guy jumps out in the street waving his arms in the air to try to tell my friend to stop. My friend came to a stop too late. The tree ended up falling on the passenger side of his car, missing him entirely, luckily — he was fine.

    • 0 avatar
      nickeled&dimed

      Sounds like if he’d kept going it might not have hit him!

      Tree story:
      I always park in the exact same spot on the street in front of my house. It’s under this big old tree, and it’s dropped a few small limbs before. Out of consideration for my sunroof, I moved my car during Sandy to another block. Sure enough, the next morning a different tree, a perfectly healthy 80 year old oak from ACROSS the street, was lying in my spot. An ounce of prevention…

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        If he had realized what was going on, speeding up might have been the answer. He sort of came to an arboreal stop from what I understand. I believe at the speed he was originally going and by the time he could have figured out what was going on, it probably would have hit his car one way or another.

        I’m not surprised that a number of these stories involve snow/ice, but some people need to slow the hell down.

        Considering a lot of people’s (lack of) snow/ice driving and doubly so near Tahoe because of the abundance of warm weather Californians and Nevadans who aren’t from the Sierras, I often worry about the other guy in those conditions. The worst might have been a woman who had a fishtailing 2WD Ford Expedition with summer tires who had clearly never driven in snow/ice before. Of course, that also means someone at the chain checkpoint let her through despite not having 4WD and not having tires with M+S written on the sidewalls.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    2001. I was in a parking lot of a drug store, and I had a car in front and behind me. A senior in a Chrysler minivan was backing out of his parking spot, and I could see from his head movements and how he used his mirror that he didn’t even see me. I nailed the horn. Since I was trapped, I couldn’t go forward or backward. For 10-15 seconds my horn was blaring while he slowly backed up into the side of my car.

    When he got out to inspect the damage, I was amazed. My Dodge 2000GTX had huge rubber side strips, and his minivan backed up into the side of my car in such a way that the pressure points were evenly distributed and there was no damage to his car nor mine.

    That was a close one. And I will never buy a car with a wimpy horn ever again.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      All cars and most trucks come with wimpy horns. You need to go aftermarket for good horns.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        ! WRONG ! .

        I’ a horn junkie and I’ve been saving and repairing them off old vehicles since the 1960′s , most car and truck horns from before 1980 , are _LOUD_ suckers , all you needs do is clean (file) the contact points then re adjust them and 99 % of the time they’ll toot like new again .

        Dual horns always sound the best , snail , trumpet or disc typ .

        Old Caddy horns are really good if TOO DAMN LOUD .

        I recently added a free 1912 Maxwell forn to my old Honda CT9K2 moto ~ that same day it saved my life when a boob in a big Buick tried to occupy my lane when I had no where to go….

        -Nate

  • avatar
    JMII

    US27 in Florida, aka Bloody 27, a two lane stretch of road from Miami to Orlando (and points north), thru the middle of nowhere. 5AM driving up to meet my father to go fishing with a buddy riding shotgun in my Prelude. Now this road is called “Bloody 27″ for a reason: no real shoulders (Everglades on either side), lots of big slow trucks (hauling sugar cane or oranges), dense fog/haze, endless stretches of nothingness (boredom), no street lights, etc… this all means multiple heads-on collisions every year. Thru the early AM fog ahead I spot what looks to be an 18-wheeler moving very slowly along the shoulder (his parking lights were covered with dust making them extra difficult to see). Well I was wrong on two accounts – the truck was STOPPED and not in the shoulder at all, it was full in MY lane. So at 60+ mph I swerved into the other lane praying there was no oncoming traffic. But it got worst, the DOOR to the semi was OPEN thus I had move over even further, driving halfway into a ditch to avoid hitting anything. Truly one of those “OH S**T” moments! After 30 minutes of silence my buddy in the passenger seat finally said it: “we should be dead”. Yep, it was a miracle I missed the truck and didn’t roll the car in the ditch either.

    I got a few more close calls, but this one was ultimate pucker factor!

  • avatar
    vvk

    I was sitting at a light. The cross street was 6 lanes with a 45mph limit. Except normal people drove 65 on it. The moment the light turned green I dumped the clutch and crossed the intersection.Then I see a car blow through the red light BEHIND me. He must have been going at least 80 mph. He missed me by a pretty big margin, too. Ever since then I always glance to the right before crossing an intersection.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Late spring 07, driving my Firbird convertible, top down, to work on the afternoon shift. I’m WB on a four lane no blvd city street maybe 200 yards from the GM parking lot. A school bus EB stops across the street. Red lights flashing, I have to stop by law. I stop, and glance in my mirror. coming up behind me, is a day cab,tandem axle tractor,bob tailing, way over the 50 klm speed limit.
    No way on gods earth is this dude going get stopped before I’m run over. Instinct takes over, I floor the Firebird the 3800 comes to life,sort of. Thank God there is no kids crossing or anybody in front of me. The trucks tandems are smoking. He dosn’t hit me. I guess it wasn’t my time.

    At the time I was a shipper reciever for GM. I got the company name and tractor number. I get to my desk, I’m still shaking.
    The director of material control,my boss’s boss wants to talk to me on another matter.

    “Mikey” he says “you look like you seen a ghost” I tell him my story. “Give me the company name and cab number” he asks me. I give him the info,and felt bad for it afterward. It probably cost the trucker his job. I justified it to myself. If there had been kids crossing, or a car in front me? Wow! what would of happened?

    I still see the grill of that truck in my nightmares.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    Sometime back in 2004 I was driving along Highway 40 in Southwest Pennsylvania near Fort Necessity National Battlefield. I was driving my 2000 Ford Contour SE V6 and enjoying the twisting roads and hills. Well, it started to rain. There were other cars ahead of me and behind me, but there was plenty of room between them and me. We were all traveling down a long, straight grade, doing a steady 55MPH. Suddenly I noticed another Contour way up ahead decided to stop to make a left turn. I stepped on the brakes, but my non-ABS-equipped Contour just locked up the wheels and slowed down not one bit! I was closing in on the other Contour rather quickly, and realized that my options were either to rear-end the other Contour, or head for the rock wall that was over in the right shoulder. I knew I had to head for the wall. I steered the car to the right, with my foot still on the brake pedal, and the car just cruised right between the wall and the other Contour and never touched a thing. I let off the brake pedal and steered back onto the road like it was nothing. I remember saying “Thank you God!” and kept on going. Besides thanking God, I was also grateful for my Contour’s wonderful handling. Mind you I was far from home and was all by myself, so things could have been very, very bad for me. The weather remained stormy for a couple of more hours as I proceeded on towards Pittsburgh, but thankfully I made it home to Michigan without any trouble.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    While driving down Beach Blvd in Jax Beach in my Hornet right after the daily five minute summer rain, admittedly a little too fast, a car pulled out and promptly stalled in front of me. I instinctively, and wrongly, slammed on the brakes while jerking the wheel over. At the same time one of my front calipers decided to lock up and show the true stopping power of one wheel. I pirouetted a magnificent 360 across three lanes, finally coming to a stop facing oncoming traffic. I floored it, leaving skid marks up onto the sidewalk.
    By the time a cop showed up I was sitting on my trunk shaking, and laughing maniacally. I was given a ticket, that was waved when I showed proof of repairs.

  • avatar
    raph

    Hmmm… closet call? Was driving home one night in 94 when a car started riding my arse on a two-lane surface street. Instead of just ignoring them or doing the stupid brake light dance or slow down and really piss them off, I decided to nail the gas in my then new to my 91 LX 5.0 and I was doing a low triple digit speed when the following took place;

    I did pull away then ran over a small dip created by filling in a trench some construction workers had dug to run a pipe under the road. The rear of the car bounced high enough off the road. Having never gone past 80 or so prior to this car, I paniced and pressed o nthe brakes in an effort to slow down, with nothing to keep them rolling, the rear tires stopped instantly and when they came down the car the locked rear wheels completely lost traction and caused the car to fish-tail. I sawed the wheel in an effort to regain control as a Ford escort came rolling up the road while I did my best effort at imitating a rotating beacon. Luckily I managed to keep from flying into somebody’s house, or wrapping myself around a tree, or killing me and the driver of the escort.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Happened about 7 years ago on some Socal B-roads in a 911 (964) Cabriolet. The car belonged to my then-girlfriend, who described the alien-tailight as ‘cute’. From that moment on, our relationship was fueled entirely by her delightful looseness of morals. Anyway, my mother had a 911 Cabriolet of the same vintage, and since I had a good deal of experience driving 964s, I took it upon myself to show my girlfriend what her 911 could do. The drive was going splendidly, until I asked for a bit too much from the tires at the rear. Naturally, I over-corrected as almost everyone does, and all hell broke loose. The roofless chassis twisted and heaved, as the Pirellis had a back-and-forth battle with the inertia of the engine. After 3 or 4 violent oscillations, I miraculously managed to gather everything up.

    When the initial shock finally subsided, I realized this was a water-shed moment in the evolution of my driving skills. I had both survived and tamed the legendary Porsche lift-off oversteer, albeit in a very soft Porsche. My girlfriend did not share my post-incident enthusiasm. Since we had neglected to fasten the top properly with the cover, the violent oversteer actually knocked some of the frail framework out of spec. The electronic top took a bit of cajoling from that moment onward.

    Moral of the story: Don’t let yourself be tempted by the fool’s gold of the 911 family, and never let yourself be seen in a convertible sportscar.

  • avatar
    PeteK

    Early this year, my wife and I had literally just picked up our car (CTS-V Wagon) from the dealer in central California and after getting dinner out on the coast, were driving home Northbound on CA Highway 14 at around midnight. Highway 14 is a four-lane divided highway through some fairly sparse desert. I pulled in the left lane to pass someone (at maybe 70 mph) as we approached a gentle bend in the highway. I noticed something ahead, and it took me what seemed like several seconds (though likely much shorter) to process that I was looking at a pair of headlights coming at me in my lane. Without looking, I swerved hard back to the right lane. Luckily, I had just passed the other car, as I would certainly have hit him a half second earlier.

    I pulled over so we could call the highway patrol, and the car we just passed pulled over to see if we were alright. The near-miss was so close that even they, a few dozen feet behind us, thought the car had hit us. After calling the cops, we drove up to the next exit, turned around and went looking for what we though was sure to be the accident scene where someone else wasn’t so lucky. We drove for a few miles and never saw anything, so hopefully it was a driver mistake and they got the hell out of there before they could hit someone, as opposed to some drunk.

    It’s kind of sobering to think that at a combined 130-150 mph, there wouldn’t be much left of either of us had things been only slightly different.

  • avatar
    twinsonic

    This happened about 6 – 7 years ago – Late August on a Friday. Had the afternoon off, nice sunny, warm, breezy day about 4pm heading home from the cell phone store. Stopped at a busy intersection on a red light, waiting to turn green. The light changed and I did a index finger up in the air (wait one second) for the drivers behind me. At my right, heading westbound, an elderly man driving a 1980′s Chevy Caprice, didn’t see the red light due to the sun, locked his brakes at the last possible second, slid thru the intersection, and stopped just a few feet from the Commonwealth Edison bucket truck driver’s door that was going thru the intersection. Had I was in a hurry, I would have been t-boned and sent to the hospital in critical condition or worse. That was close enough for me…….

  • avatar
    DJTragicMike

    Subaru STI, 2005, tastefully modified with wing delete. I had tracked it a bunch of times and had basic driving skills, knew its limits pretty well. Well, I was driving through a green light when a guy in an extended cab longbed pickup ran his red light through the cross street. He stopped DIRECTLY in front of me with maybe 100ft between he and I. I was going maybe 50mph, slammed on the brakes and then off brakes and then sharp left. Close call and I thank my track time to missing the guy.

  • avatar
    340-4

    Oh man. Two stories.

    1991 or so, me driving my ’68 396 Caprice, 70 mph. A yellow ’80 or so Celica I’ve been watching doing some unsafe passing (long stretches in MT dontchaknow) coming in my direction. The teenaged girl driving whips out into my lane and just barely makes it back into hers in time.

    Distance to collision? Probably a few feet. Can you imagine the mess if we’d hit? Her car had 4-5 young girls in it. Wow.

    Second one:

    Ten years ago, I’m in the same car. Two jackwagons in a Miata convertible a hundred yards ahead of me pull onto the shoulder and just as I am almost to them they flip a u-turn.

    Both of them turn their heads at the screeching tires of my dark behemoth of their approaching death and their eyes go wide and jaws drop.

    Distance to t-bone? Less than a few feet. I hope one of them soiled his banana-sling.

    Oh, and once in the same car I dodged a bunch of bouncing 55 gallon steel drums that were falling from the bed of an old Chevy truck with a drunken pilot.

    After the sparks and knocking one clear with my bumper (imagine the sound that made!) I floored it, passed him at… uh… triple digits.. got in front of him, slowed down and forced him over.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I was driving my worst, by far, vehicle ever, my ’77 Power Wagon down Las Vegas Blvd heading South to someone’s house. By that time, I had upgraded the tires and shocks, and hopped up the engine to the point it was running low 15′s in the 1/4 mile. In front of me was a Toyota, blue, don’t remember what model. South of Tropicana Ave, it’s 55 Mph, and I was probably doing at least that. Suddenly, the Toyota’s driver slammed on his brakes. Problem was, he had no tail or brake lights! I only realized he was stopped by him skidding and that I was closing on him very rapidly. I had no choice except to go “off road”. The pavement had built up over the years and it was about a foot or so higher than the surrounding desert, so there was a big “drop off” on each side. When I went off the road, I went up on two wheels for a while, then I went down on all four. When I did, my dog hit the transfer case lever and knocked the truck into low, and it flooded from the impact I guess and it stopped. The Toyota driver sat there looking at me. Someone asked me if I was ok, and I said, “I’m Ok, but I’m gonna kill that bastard!”, while pointing at the Toyota idiot. I started cranking it over while telling the Toyota moron what I was going to do to him, and finally it caught and I started rolling, looking for a place low enough so I could get back on the main road. The Toyota jerk’s eyes bugged out and he took off back towards town, with me about a half mile behind him. I got stuck in traffic at Tropicana, and lost him. I don’t know what I would have done if I had caught him. I don’t think I’ve ever been as angry as I was that day.

  • avatar
    Virgil Hilts

    Winter 1982: driving my 81 Mercury Capri RS Turbo on a heavily forested two lane in Southern Illinois. All of a sudden the right side of my car exploded. I had been broadsided by a huge buck. I caught a glimpse of him limping back into the woods. Had he jumped out a tenth of a second earlier and I had struck him, he could have easily gone through my windshield…

  • avatar
    340-4

    Sweet infant Jesus, I just recovered a blocked memory.

    The year is 1993. I’ve just bought a 1968 Impala SS from a remote, ramshackle ranch outside of Clyde Park, MT.

    The seller (young kid, still in high school) assured me that he had a way to tow it to Bozeman.

    See where this is headed?

    I get out there after work at around 7. We ‘get’ it ‘roadworthy’ (the tires are cracking, rotting bias plies) and his drinking buddies show up in a lifted ’80 or so Chevy truck and one long tow rope. Somehow, we got the brakes bled and ‘working’ and, in the darkness, off we went.

    Car has no engine or transmission, no lights, nothing.

    Starts out fine. Guys in truck take it easy.

    Until. We. Hit. The. Interstate.

    Now we’re going 65. I turn to the kid and say ‘this is a bad idea, they need to slow down.’ So, my copilot leans out the window and YELLS at them to slow down. Of course they can’t hear a thing at this speed, right? So I stick my arm out the window and give it an emphatic thumbs DOWN.

    “Oh,” yells one kid. “Speed UP!”

    They punch it.

    Now we’re going, oh, who knows, 75 mph and climbing.

    Jesus take the wheel.

    I hit the brakes as the car begins to wag from side to side. Wrong thing to do, I know, but it was pitch black and freaky. Somehow, the extra drag convinced them otherwise and they let off.

    We deserved to die that day.

    It took me years to get the title from his mother (he owed her money!) and I had to track down previous owners going back 20 years to find someone that could get me a duplicate title.

    Ten years later, while reading the Chronicle on a whim, I see an article. The kid that was my copilot was killed in a drunk driving accident along with, I can only assume, one of the other kids in that truck that night.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I’ve posted about this before, but her is my closest call:

    I-495 Southbound in MA about 10am, so traffic is heavy but moving fast, 70+. It has just stopped raining after heavy thunderstorm downpours, the road is very wet but the sun has come out. This is a 6-8 lane divided interstate with a sunstantial median, trees, and a guardrail between the two roadways.I’m in the left lane, about 75mph. In front of me is a yellow Chevy pickup, I’m a reasonable distance behind. Ahead and over on the Northbound side, I see a fountain of dirt fly up, I start braking a bit. The fountain resolves into an 18 wheeler, which proceeds to turn hard left, crosses the median, and completely obliterates the truck ahead of me. I just about put the brake pedal through the firewall, and my Saab stopped just about 3′ from the side of the tail end of the trailer, which is now across all the lanes of traffic, stopped. I dove down across the passenger seat, fully expecting that someone was going to shove me under that trailer, but somehow everyone got stopped, at least at the front.

    I later heard on the news that a car on the Northbound side hydroplaned into the truck and broke its steering axle, the poor truck driver was just along for the ride at that point. The guy in the Chevy pickup died on impact. I don’t think he ever saw it coming, didn’t even have time to hit the brakes.

    Makes me shudder just thinking abouth it, and this was about four years ago – I’m not at all religious, but “There but for the Grace of God go I” If I had been 300ft further along, or if I hadn’t seen the fountain of dirt and started braking…

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Ronnie….

    The neat thing about this article and its question to everyone, is that some folks who do not participate often in posts, have now come forward with a story to tell. There is no technical issue to challenge, no one to get mad at, no embarrassing statement to recover from. Perhaps there should be more questions like this?

    My close calls had been so numerous that I still get a shudder thinking of them, especially those 2 years in Germany driving as a young, incompetent American amidst what are essentially track stars and race-car drivers, the general German populace.

    Between the ages of 17 and 24, I did not have close calls: I had fully engaged accidents. Six of them. Three were my fault; three were the “other guy’s”. And none ever since, despite being 70. What happened ? What were the factors that eliminated both close calls and those much noisier intimate “calls” that make headlines? Certainly it wasn’t improved technical skills. And it wasn’t Driver’s Ed head knowledge.

    It was, in fact, a kind of traffic paranoia, escape-route planning, street savviness, and watchful suspicion at intersections. These are all experience and judgment things. They require time and effort to develop. It even required traffic “management”: putting my vehicle in someone else’s path to stop a dangerous situation from developing, and just blocking things up for a moment. It required undivided road and pedestrian attention, with not even the radio blaring, much less a cell phone. And, unfortunately, it required the mental state of assuming that everyone around you is a blooming idiot, who is likely to do something completely unexpected and irrational at any given moment. I made no assumptions about driving virtue, often not even my own.**

    Does it work? Yes. Is it foolproof? No: if somebody is destined to run into you, then that is going to happen even if you try jumping off the planet.

    ** A race-car driver once told me that, unlike what his insurance company said, he felt safest on the track, and was terrified by the drive home afterwards!

    ============

    • 0 avatar
      dswilly

      ** A race-car driver once told me that, unlike what his insurance company said, he felt safest on the track, and was terrified by the drive home afterwards!

      – That’s exactly what my take-away was after attending BMW driver schools and flogging my BMW 2002 at the limit on a track. Instead of bring that back to the street I became more cautious of two-way traffic, intersections, curbs, sand and all the other uncontrollable risks.

    • 0 avatar
      Yoss

      I’ve done the “blocking things up for a moment” to prevent a dangerous situation… and got rewarded by being roadraged at for the next 10 minutes by the oblivious idiot I saved. Oh well, at least I spared the people he’d have run into.

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    Ironically given the opening photo, my story involves a Corvair — but in a good way. I had a ’66 Corvair convertible as a daily driver for a while in 1983-84. I was coming home from work and driving with traffic at about 40 on a 4-lane road with a median going through the Roxborough section of Philly, when a woman in a VW Beetle pulled out from a cross street right in front of me. A ’66 Corvair isn’t particularly safe, but had I T-boned the Beetle I would have hit it square in the driver’s door with very unpleasant consequences for its driver.

    Not wanting that outcome, I did the only thing I could do which was jam on the brake and crank the wheel hard left at the same time, and hope. To my amazement, the car just jinked smartly left across the passing lane and onto the median grass, where the engine stalled for some reason.

    To this day I remain convinced that I did not hit the VW or spin out because I was driving a Corvair. With over 60 percent of its weight on the rear wheels, a Corvair can be braked hard without skidding or losing steering control. In the pre-ABS era its capabilities in that regard were pretty amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      MadHungarian…

      I applaud your comment about your Corvair.
      Its loss from America is still one of the largest automotive tragedies we have experienced, IMHO.
      It was the beginning of a design that could have been improved upon and perfected.
      It could have become America’s Porsche 911. (The old 356 B and C were squirrelly, too, with swing axles and pendulum effect, but they survived, and look what we have now as a result: Boxster, Cayman, new 911.)
      I hope you are satisfied, Mr Nader. May your effigy rest in peace.

      ————–

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        While Nader certainly didn’t help the Corvair’s reputation, the popularity of more conventional compact and pony cars sealed the Corvair’s fate.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Marko….

        Have you actually read “Unsafe at Any Speed”? Its condemnation was exaggerated, deadly, and disproportionate. (Corvair, of course, was not the only target.)

        After its release and the adverse media publicity it induced, the Corvair was already pretty much dead, since GM became literally frightened and nervous about the bad publicity. This was the 1st time that GM ever had to confront such a public outcry, and they didn’t quite know how to handle it.

        Any detrimental influence from the surge of Japanese compact cars and the American Mustang could have been partially fought off by a more advanced Corvair and it would have survived, since the former would have become really popular only a half-decade later.

        I lived through that era. The injustice and political manipulation in Nader’s approach was awful (and obvious). He was certainly trying to make a name for himself and be a hero of some sort, as a political stepping stone for a type of consumerist party. His embellished allegations and imagery, and the very language he used in interviews, were fanatical. Example: “Doing the ‘watusi’” as a cornering mode for the Corvair.

        To this very day, I look at Corvairs in car shows with a tear in my eye, and congratulate the persistent owners who still care from them and cherish them. What an opportunity we missed. Tell me, Marko: how many mid-engine or rear-engine American-made cars do you see motoring around on our highways and byway nowadays?

        —————-

  • avatar
    manbridge

    My story also is about a VW (bug) of indeterminate vintage and single circuit brakes.

    We had a bug abandoned where I work and decided to get it running for blasting down the gravel roads in Pike National Forest. It ran well but we had to bleed the brakes after fixing a few leaks. The test drive was on a winding uphill road littered with switchbacks. Everything was fine going up, but upon turning to go down…. NADA! Now I’m going down a 4% mountain grade with air to my left and slope to my right. Should’ve calmly lifted the well working parking brake. Instead I downshifted which spun the rear wheels up to warp speed and turned the VW about 45* facing the slope. Started to correct but hit hard about the same angle. Started to climb hill with right front tire and driver’s door popped open and I fall out still holding wheel. It was oh-so-close to rolling over by the time it stopped. Had to use a log to pry fender away from body to get back.

    Blessed from above to still be here.

  • avatar
    manbridge

    Also, you should ask this about motorcycles. Bet you’d get 5x the response.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Recently, I was on the right lane on the Fl Pike, a dump truck on the emergency lane with 3 workers at the rear doing some work, as I approach, a big SUV in the next lane almost sideswiped me, which would have pushed me into the back of the truck, most likely killing me, my passenger and possibly the 3 workers on the side of the road, of course, he would have just kept going.

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I was post 18 hour shift at 1 AM and drove past a broken railway crossing sign (it always blinks, whether a train is coming or not) in midtown–industrial buildings flanked both sides of the crossing, so you couldn’t see a train coming.

    About two seconds after my 4Runner crossed the intersection, I saw a freight train in my rear view morror.

  • avatar
    MidLifeCelica

    Driving a 1985 Mustang 5.0GT into downtown Calgary early on a warm, sunny Sunday morning, not another car in sight. Coming up on the first traffic light, it turns green while I’m still 100 yards away. I’m in the left lane of a four lane one-way street. I smile…I might get to cruise through a whole series of cascading greens today. On my left, a high wall of wood surrounding yet another skyscraper under construction. As I reach the crosswalk, I look left since it’s a one-way street as well. As I emerge from behind the blocking effect of the wall, I see a station wagon coming at my driver’s door less than 20 feet away, with no intentions of stopping at their red light. I crank the wheel hard right and stomp the accelerator for whatever help that might give (not much in 4th gear even with the 5.0). The car moves like magic without even a squeal of rubber so that as I reach the crosswalk on the other side of the intersection I’m way over in the right lane, still prepped to countersteer against the impact on my rear fender that never comes. I look in the rear-view mirror and see her merrily continuing on her way…and now I’m mad. First gear, drop the clutch and I’m to the next light, turn right, next light, turn right, next light and bam, I’m braking hard and blocking her car at the next red, which she DID stop for. Frantically she rolls up the window as I exit, approach, and vent some mighty expletives. I reflected later on the fact that most people never exceed one tenth of their’s cars abilities, and it’s nice to know that it’s there when you need it.

  • avatar
    cfclark

    I was driving my girlfriend’s Civic wagon, with said girlfriend in the passenger seat, on a two-lane highway in Alabama, when I saw a car coming the opposite direction pull out to pass, with little consideration for how he was going to pass and pull back in with oncoming traffic (me!) in the way…somehow I had the presence of mind to dive off into the gravel in the right shoulder without losing control and rolling the car down the embankment, and then pull back onto the road and continue on my way, after the passing car had whizzed by. I might have had 2-3 seconds to decide what to do. I remember being very calm during the incident (which fortunately turned out to be a non-incident) and then shaking like a leaf afterward when the adrenalin caught up to me.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I live in Vancouver, B.C. it happens pretty much every month. I am not kidding. Last time was last week. Woman blew a stop sign and never noticed, what with the coffee, phone and some sort of makeup.

  • avatar
    kkt

    Here’s a little different one. I and two other climbers were on our way to a trailhead on a lightly-traveled gravel Forest Service road. We were going 30 minutes or so between seeing other cars and I was driving. A Forest Service road crew had just laid down about 7 inches of fresh gravel, but only about 3/4 of the width of the road, from the left side of the road to the middle of our lane. Unfortunately, my car has only about 5 inches of clearance, so when driving in my lane we plowed gravel the entire time. Rather than spend about five hours driving back the way we came and around the long way, I drove on the left side of the road. So, of course, around a blind corner comes a VW van. I swerve to the right while braking, the van driver brakes hard, I put a twist to the left to bring the back of the car the rest of the way into our lane and kept the car from going off the right edge of the road and down the hill. Came to rest a couple of inches from the van.

    Another mile and we caught up to the road crew and it was fine after that.

    Lessons: High-clearance vehicle would be better. When traveling on the wrong side of the road, honk when approaching corners and drive very slowly.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    It was the late 80s. I was driving my ’80 Malibu, a plain-wrapper ex-ATF interceptor. I admit I had had a couple of drinks, and it didn’t help that the roads were wet. I’m sitting at a light with cars in front and behind me. Suddenly in my peripheral vision I see a runaway shopping cart coming right at me. At the last second it veered right and went in between me and the car in front of me. A few feet in either direction and it would’ve t-boned one of us.

    Seriously, the one I’ll always remember probably wasn’t technically a close call, but I made the unwise decision of driving between two 18 wheelers on a very wet interstate. For what was probably 5 or 6 seconds (but felt like an hour), I was totally blinded by the water coming off their tires and was hydroplaning a little bit to boot. Never did that again.

  • avatar
    ICARFAN

    I fell victim to distracted driving because the local college dance team was having a car wash on a warm spring day. Came very close to tagging the car in front of me.

  • avatar
    MarkP

    This was on two wheels, an old BMW R-60/6. I was riding home for Christmas from California to Georgia. It was dark and rainy, but I was only about an hour from home, so I kept on. It was a two-lane road.
    I pulled out to pass a slow-moving truck with what I thought was plenty of room. Then a car’s headlights appeared coming towards me. I downshifted and opened the throttle all the way. Now, with this old BMW, you wouldn’t expect it to break traction, but it did. The back wheel spun, slipped and the back end started to come around. I was morally certain there was no way I was not going down in the rain and dark right in front of the oncoming car. But somehow I didn’t. I rolled the throttle off a little, and continued on around.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    Having driven regularly since 1979 I (along with my wife) were travelling from Calgary AB to Washington DC in our ’85 Rx7 (it was in very good condition, properly maintained and mechanically flawless) in September of 2007.

    Heading into Chicago from the northwest at about 11pm we were amazed at just how fast people were driving, around 85 miles per hour, with a few shall we say, more adventurous folks getting it on at close to 100. We figured “when in Rome” and maintained 85.

    The southeast-bound route we were on was five lanes wide, and the signage indicated that the two right lanes would branch off to the right (where we wanted to go) about a mile ahead. We were in the second lane from the right, so staying put made sense, since this would put us in the outside of the two right-turning lanes when they branched off.

    Just as we were within sight of the fork in the road an idiot in a tan Toyota 4-Runner passed us on the right at what must have been over 100 mph, realized he needed the three left-turning lanes and cut in front of us, immediately hammering the brakes because by then he knew he had no chance of merging into the three left lanes given the volume of traffic.

    This same high-density traffic denied us the option of swerving around him without getting creamed, forcing us to stay behind him and hammer our own brakes, hoping to hell we wouldn’t get crushed in the mother of all rear-enders.

    The only thing that saved us was that the moron came to a complete stop in that no-mans’-land of the V where the lanes split, right in front of the impact barrier. There was just enough room to accommodate his vehicle and our car (and not an inch more) as traffic whizzed by on both sides of us.

    I flicked on my high beams and leaned on the horn until the prick finally lurched into the first left-turning lane, cutting off another slew of traffic in doing so. It was an additional minute before I could safely re-enter traffic in the right-turning lanes, gunning the hell out of the 7 so as not to endanger anyone else while we regained highway speed.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I waited until I could make a left turn on to a highway that was on a slightly banked, sweeping right hander. I had traffic quickly approaching from both directions, but it was no problem in a 5.0 Mustang. I enter that two-lane safely and smoothly.

    I wasn’t racing it and was maybe 3/4 throttle, but it suddenly snapped completely sideways when I let out the clutch on the 3-4 shift. My left turn was a mild arc, but was off-camber for me.

    It caught me totally by surprise and I was all crossed-up at 55 mph… Spinning-out was NOT an option with just the double-yellow separating me from a long line of oncoming traffic. I just had to fight off the basic instinct to let up on the gas.. No, I stayed on the gas and rode that sucker out, in true drifter style!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Whew ! .

    Glad to know I’m not alone here , I’m both a professional driver as well as one who spends as much time behind the wheel as I can so I too have had some shorts – staining adventures .

    Lotta young folks here , glad to see most take thier driving seriously , if sometimes only after nearly dying .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    gear-dog

    I didn’t get my drivers license until I was eighteen. The small town I grew up in had sidewalks but more significantly my friends and I were partying hard every day and I watched one after another of my friends total cars and get in trouble with the law. This is one of those stories. I was with an older guy who was driving his mother’s mid sixties Plymouth Valiant. We met up in New Jersey with a guy he knew who had an almost identical Dodge Dart and the races were on. We got pulled over several times that afternoon and even though there were open beer cans in the cars we didn’t get tickets. The late seventies was just a different time. Finally around dark we came to the conclusion that if we wanted to race we were going to need to get off the public roads. The Dodge dart guy took us to an abandoned shopping mall parking lot and we had a blast. There was a multi story parking garage and we tore up and down the ramps. Things got real in a hurry when the driver of the car I was in pulled out to pass the Dart on the ground level of the garage. What the driver thought were three exit lanes to the garage turned out to be one exit lane with two sidewalks with ten inch curbs on either side. We hit the curb head on at over fifty miles an hour. The car launched Dukes of Hazard style, twenty feet into the parking lot. When it came down it had lost both front wheels and sheared off the oil pan. The trail of oil and engine parts leading back from the wreck looked like a bugs bunny cartoon. Valiant guy had a cousin with a tow truck so we were able to get the Dart off the lot before the cops showed up. We spent the night at some girlfriends house filled with piles of dirty laundry. Yes, we were assholes. Yes, we deserved to die, but we didn’t. By the time I got my license I had sobered up.

  • avatar
    JustinM

    I was 18 late in 1996 and I hadn’t even been driving for a month yet, still on my learner’s permit. I was on a winding 2-lane “highway” (PA-388) that’s on rolling countryside, driving my parents’ 1985 Oldsmobile Delta 88.

    As I came up to one of the knolls, there was a bicyclist at the crest on the opposite edge of the road minding his own business. A car coming the other way decided the crest of the hill was a fantastic place to pass the cyclist. Normally, I’d give the motorist a lot of credit for giving the cyclist ample room rather than pushing him off into the grass, but this maneuver put him in my lane, both of us going about 40 mph.

    This is where my misspent youth playing way too many video games and the increased reaction speed that entails paid off for me and both my parents. I yanked the car halfway off the road to my right and put it back on the road as the car passed, no thought involved whatsoever. The biggest reason this worked out was that there wasn’t a drop-off between the edge of the blacktop and the grass. If there had been, I’m positive that I’d have lost control, but I think it still would have been a better option than hitting the car or the cyclist head on.


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