Wrong Way Driver Caught On Video – Triggers PTSD Flare Up – Ever See One?
Some of you may have seen this already, but if not, it’s scarier than anything you’ll see trick or treating at your front door tonight. An 84 year old woman somehow got on the I-95 near Philadelphia going the wrong way, in the fast lane at that. She caused several wrecks by vehicles dodging her, but no fatalities.
It’s a perfect reenactment of when I came closer to death than just about ever, on the 101 in the Bay Area, at night no less:
In 1988, I had driven up to SFO to pick up my boss who had flown in from NY, and we were heading south back to San Jose. At about eight or nine at night, there was still plenty of traffic, but not exactly thick, and I was in the left (fast) lane, right up against the divider barrier. I was rolling long at about seventy, when suddenly the car ahead of me pulls over abruptly to the next lane on the right.
His urgency seemed a bit odd, but in a split second I saw why: a pair of headlights coming straight on, and closing in extremely fast. I instantly yanked my 300E over too, and seemingly instantaneously, the wrong way car shot by like a missile. The whole incident lasted maybe two seconds, from the time I saw the other driver pull over, to seeing my life flash by.
I checked the late news when I got home that night, but there was nothing. How could someone cross the four lanes of busy 101, not kill anyone driving down the fast lane, and then eventually cross the lanes and get off again? Mind boggling.
Anyone else seen one?
Early winter 1981 in Akron, Ohio. I was going on my way to Canton, OH when a little old lady managed to somehow get onto the eastbound lanes heading west on I-76. It was a snowy Tuesday or Wednesday night, around 9 or 10, so there wasn't a large amount of traffic. I don't know where she got on, I only noticed her after I realized that there wasn't another left lane on that part of I-76. It was very strange to realize I was running alongside a wrong way driver. I was within five feet of her, but there was nothing I could do. I watched with horror as the few cars that were on the road swerved to get out of her way. Then, she turned on her left turn signal (!) and got on to the Market Street east-bound on ramp! Because the traffic was so spotty, she simply crossed the lanes, and cruised up the on-ramp. After that, I was too far ahead to see whatever became of her.
I had a close call just this afternoon, in Davenport IA. The little old lady in question was going the right way, she just tried to change lanes into me. Several seconds of leaning on the horn and braking convinced her to move back. The car? A Mercury Sable, of course.
About five years ago, around 9 o'clock one night, I was heading eastbound on WA-526 in the middle lane of a section where it is three lanes wide. I saw the telltale headlights up ahead, then got a quick jolt of adrenaline as they passed me in the lane to my *right*. A closing speed of 100+ mph never looked so fast.
Not all elderly drivers are dangerously incompetent. Guys like Paul Frere, John Fitch and Paul Newman were better drivers in their 80s than most people are at any age. My father drove competently and efficiently until he suffered two stokes at age 90. On the other hand, my mother-in-law lost her license at the same age after a highway worker had to stop her from going the wrong way on the interstate. The way to weed out the incompetent elderly is through testing. For a start, I would suggest testing every two years beginning at age 70 and every year beginning at age 80. It doesn't even have to be a driving test. Going the wrong way is caused by the loss of mental faculties rather than deterioration of vision, motor skills or reflexes. They would fail if the test were to play tic tac toe. It's not that they couldn't win; rather, they wouldn't be able to figure out how to play. We all have had encounters with elderly drivers who shouldn't be on the road any more. However, it's not enough to tell war stories. Each of us needs to take action whenever the situation demands it. If you observe an accident caused by, or just precipitated by, an incompetent elderly driver, stick around to be a witness and make sure your observations are not ignored. If you observe incompetent driving, get out your cell phone and call 911. Follow as best you can without risking anyone's life and help the police locate and stop the driver. Then, make sure to give them a detailed statement. If you can't get the police to stop the driver, get the best description you can and write a detailed letter to the state DMV. They can order the driver to take a driving test which he or she is almost certain to fail. If a relative who is too old to drive gets a traffic ticket, don't help him or her get through it with trivial consequences. Instead, discuss the situation with the prosecutor before taking your relative to court to answer the charge. That way, your relative will blame the judge, not you, for taking away his or her license.