By on August 17, 2018

driving Golden Gate

Just rest comfortably on the couch here. That’s good. Now, what seems to be the problem?

We’re giving everyone a chance to talk it out today, as each and every one of us harbors some type of anxiety, insecurity, or deeply rooted fear. Oh, you don’t? Sounds like you’re lying to yourself.

The inspiration for this QOTD lies in a tragedy. Earlier this week, a bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, killed 39 people, with some motorists surviving a plunge of up to 180 feet. Others braked in time to avoid tumbling off the edge of the crumbling span.

For many, perhaps even yourself, this exact scenario (or something like it) takes top billing on the “worst driving fear” list. However, other worries — both rational and irrational — cloud our time behind the wheel, watering down the pure, unadulterated joy of driving. What’s your greatest driving fear?

I’ll tell you mine. There’s two, actually.

The first is a rational worry. Driving in the city, passing a line of parked cars, I fear that, at any moment, a small child will dash out from between two bumpers and into the path of traffic. Into the path of my car. Chalk it up to maturity, but this fear grows with each passing year.

I scan more, my eyes darting from side to side in built-up areas, at intersections, searching for that flash of movement or splash of color in my periphery. There’s no more youthful tunnel vision. While I’d like to think this makes me a better driver, makes me more likely to escape this hypothetical tragedy, who really knows? Life contains multitudes of uncertainties. I’m confident I’m not alone in this fear.

The other fear is more of a subconscious, deep-down thing, and this week’s disaster in Italy does nothing to help it. I don’t like driving across tall bridges. Hate it, in fact. All the more strange, as I love great views — especially the kind that only comes with great heights.

With this fear, I know I’m not alone. Having overheard conversations where motorists drove miles out of their way to avoid tall spans, among them Michigan’s Saginaw Bridge and Tampa’s Sunshine Skyway Bridge, it’s safe to say I’m in good company here. Of course, the fickleness of the human brain means I only suffer gut-churning pangs of vertigo and terror (my car will levitate and send me over the railing, I just know it) while driving the car. As a passenger, I’m gazing out the window, looking for ships and other cool things. No problem at all.

Confession time: By far, my worst such experience occured when a very unexpected panic attack took hold at the crest of the Ambassador Bridge several years back. Pulling myself together with Herculean strength (and whatever remained of my mental faculties), I forced air into my lungs, coasting into customs on the Detroit side looking dishevelled enough to warrant a nice interview from the folks at the Department of Homeland Security.

As you probably guessed, this friendly get-together did nothing to soothe my jangled nerves. I took the tunnel on every subsequent visit.

Anyway, enough about me; let’s turn the mic over to you, B & B. What scares you behind the wheel?

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96 Comments on “QOTD: Fear Takes the Wheel?...”


  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    Driving behind a loaded truck where parts of the load fly off it.
    I have heard stories of dead people due to 4×8 sheets of plywood that cut like a knife through butter at speeds over 60mph.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      A few years ago while on vacation in a 2001 Honda Accord coupe:

      When driving through Cincinnati rush hour traffic, I got stuck behind a large construction truck. A piece of metal – looked like a metal post used for signs – slipped out of the back, bounced on the asphalt hard and, to my worried eyes, seemed to float right toward my windshield. Due to the heavy traffic, there was nothing to do but hit my brakes as hard as I dared.

      The metal bar fell right in front of the Honda’s tires and I rolled right over it without any damage. That night I replayed that memory a few times.

      Fried of mine was driving his VW Golf and passed a semi hauling construction machinery. As he was passing, he looked in his rear view mirror and saw one of the machines fall off, right into where he had been just a few scant seconds before. Yikes.

    • 0 avatar
      e30gator

      Just a couple of months ago, something like a block of wood fell off the back of a tow truck and dented the hell out of our Highlander. We were on I-75 taking the kids to Busch Gardens. Scares the $h!t out of me to imagine what might have happened it if had hit our car about 6 inches higher and struck the windshield.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yep following loaded trucks is high on my list. I’ve seen things held down with string and bungee cords. General rule: if you can’t LIFT the item with your strap then its not strong enough. Also any trucks with sand or rocks in them, as you can heard your paint being blasted off even several car lengths behind.

      The wife hates high overpasses, bridges and tunnels. However my biggest worry is just other drivers… ALL OF THEM!

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Especially when you hear your car getting sandblasted, but you can’t go anywhere because you’re in the next lane over, and the fvcktard in front of you won’t budge from the damned speed limit!!

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I hate bridges, always have, always will. Fortunately I don’t live near any that I have to drive over on a regular basis. Outside of that being wedged between two semis going 70-80mph is unnerving as well. This is one of my main reasons for preferring SUV/CUVs. Sitting up a little higher helps

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      I’m mostly fine with bridges but there was one time where a combination of factors made me pucker up. Crossing the Mackinaw Bridge in a VW bus on a windy day was almost too much. Steering on the bus was never that precise at the best of times, and trying to stay firmly planted in a lane with wind gusts slapping the van upside the head was a major effort. Ordinarily I would have been enjoying the sights from such a height, but not that day.

  • avatar
    Alcolawl

    Losing control of the vehicle. I’m confident in my abilities when I drive, and I almost never put myself in a situation where I could lose control of my car, but I’ve had too many dreams about sliding off the road in my car and smashing into a rock or something. Most of them feel very unrealistic after waking up and thinking about them for a second. I think it’s a deep-seated fear from when I first experienced sliding out of control down a hill in my Cavalier in 3 inches of snow. Watching in what feels like slow motion as you careen towards a guard rail and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop it. You feel helpless. Luckily, in this case, this wasn’t a dream and my car regained traction only a few feet from disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      jkk6

      Rule of thumb, never brake. In the case you do brake and lose control, floor the gas to correct and gain control of maneuverability. Saved my life twice.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        That’s harder to do then one might think, giving a car gas when all your other instincts say BRAKE!

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “Rule of thumb, never brake.”

        Depends on the circumstances. You have a certain amount of grip to work with, and you can apply that grip longitudinally, laterally, or some combination of the above. If you’re on a slippery road and heading for a telephone pole rapidly, you might need to average 1g decel but only .1g lateral to either stop before you get there or avoid it by turning; in that case, if you have only .1g of grip available, using up your grip decelerating will prevent you from avoiding the pole by turning.

        On the other hand, there are also situations where you have enough grip to avoid a bad situation if you use the traction circle differently, and that might mean decelerating.

        With modern cars with good ABS and brake distribution systems, braking no longer prevents you from cornering, so it’s pretty much just down to using your grip optimally in whatever vector prevents you from ruining your car’s paint.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “Never brake” all depends on circumstance. If one looses the front i.e. uncontrolled understeer the reflexive thing to do is turn the wheel more “into” the turn and brake. That makes everything worse. The correct approach is to “straighten” the wheel i.e. turn the wheels toward the outside of the corner. The objective is to regain traction and thus regain steering and braking control. This usually works or at least turns the loss of control into harm mitigation.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I too have a complete irrational fear of bridges; specially high ones due largely to an acute fear of heights. When I go back east to visit family, the I-95 bridge across the Delaware, upper deck so headed to the airport from NJ, is almost more than I can handle. Their is another one too, we take on the way to the shore, not the Betsy Ross but another one that crosses PA to NJ. I hate them. I am not a left lane bandit, but I will drive in the left lane to be on the inside so I can’t see the height, as much, the good news is I am generally going as fast as traffic allows to make the experience as quick as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      That’s the only time I will not budge out of the left lane is when crossing on a bridge. To go west of me I have to cross the Mississippi and let me tell you there are some nasty old two-lane bridges crossing that river. I now know where they all are and will drive miles out of my way to cross at a newer 4-lane bridge

    • 0 avatar
      kefkafloyd

      Commodore Barry? Walt Whitman? Ben Franklin?

      Of those three the Commodore Barry is probably what you’re thinking of. Through-truss design, single span, movable barrier. The Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges are both suspension, wider with dual spans. Probably less freaky.

      The Delaware Memorial Bridge used to be my nemesis. When I was a passenger, it freaked me out. Now I’ve eased up on it a lot as I’ve aged and driven over it myself. Driving seems to put me more at ease since I’m in control of the car… to the best of my ability, at least. They do have a service that will drive your car across it for you if you’re incapable.

    • 0 avatar
      someoldfool

      I too have the irrational fear of bridges. Last time I was on the Sunshine Skyway I was in the back seat with a blanket over my head, really. The 3 in Kentucky on I-24 used to bother me, a lot. I now mutter this mantra over and over and over as I cross them: I refuse to let the bridge intimidate me. But I will not be in the front seat on the Sunshine Skyway, no how, no way, not gonna happen. Wave below to Christ.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        The Sunshine Skyway is without a doubt the scariest bridge I’ve ever been on. I have decided that the the rest of my life will still be complete if I never have to drive over it again

        • 0 avatar

          I drove over it last October a couple times, in an awful rented Hyundai Accent.

          I had that “uh oh” roller coaster feeling as I ascended the bridge, but it was never all that scary for me. Marveling at the engineering and sheer scale!

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            Fear of bridges is not irrational. ASCE rates many US bridges substandard. I frequently crossed the I35 bridge that subsequently collapsed. It was not fault tolerant. A single point – an undersized gusset plate holding a lot of girders together – failed. However, the bridge still substantially exceeded its design life despite the undersized gusset. Bridge designers builds large margins of safety in to account for possible design and construction deficiencies. In 1965, the I35 designer didn’t know that it wouldn’t be replaced when it was used up. Designers still have to compensate for the antics of a politician/crapweasel who shorts the maintenance budget leading to accelerated deterioration – that guy may not even have been born when the design was finalized. Happened to a bridge not far from where I used to live. The lack of maintenance led to new bridge – repair of the old one didn’t make economic sense

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            It’s a height thing with me, I don’t like them. If heights don’t bother you then bridges probably won’t either

          • 0 avatar

            Heights absolutely do bother me! It’s only certain kinds though – ladders, open-back stairs, rooftops with no railings.

            I can go on tall bridges [in a car], but could not walk across same bridge.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Very similar in design is the Veteran’s Glass City Skyway Bridge in Toledo.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          My mother HATES the Sunshine Skyway too because many years that ship ran into it in the fog. They shut it down in high winds because its so exposed in the gulf. The drive up to is just so intimidating as it looms in the distance. When I drove over it (the wife refuses and covers her eyes) I must stay on the inside lane or the wife freaks out about going over the edge. Your just surrounded by water and sky up there. Personally I think the view is awesome up there and feel safe driving… provided its not windy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            I’ll never get the image out of my head of the lone car that stopped inches from the end of the pavement after the tanker ran into the first bridge

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      What is it about the Sunshine Skyway? I now go over it at least twice a month. Lovely bridge. I can sympathize if you are acrophobic – I’m claustrophobic – I don’t like small cramped cars, especially if the windows are small too. Good thing you didn’t ever go over the old Jamestown Bridge near Newport RI. I used to live in Jamestown and a few times a year the cops would have to go on the bridge and drive someone’s car off. People would just freeze up. At its highest point, the deck was steel grillage. When traffic was stopped you could open your car door and peer down 100 feet or so the the bay. Quite the view. If a truck passed you going the other way, it was like a small earthquake. Built in 1940 without breakdown lanes or a center barrier between two narrow lanes, thankfully replaced in 1993 and dropped in the water by controlled explosion a couple years later.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Hitting a bicyclist.

    So many of them seem to believe that they own the road, or don’t follow the rules of the road. Making a right hand turn in a busy downtown intersection is particularly dangerous.

    On a green light you wait for the pedestrians to cross and then start your right hand turn only to have some bike, that you did not see in your check, come flying along beside the curb and trying to pass inside you.

    On a red light you wait for a break in the traffic, and then discover that some bike is crossing the street, illegally on the red.

    For those afraid of ‘flying junk’ about 35 years ago, while driving a Civic Hatch along the 401, at just over the limit, a brake drum came off of a vehicle that was being towed and struck my windshield right in front of me. Fortunately it hit ‘flat’ didn’t shatter the windshield and bounced/slid up onto the roof. I was able to ‘catch’ the tow truck drive and extract suitable retribution/compensation.

    As for having a bridge collapse, etc. I am now at the stage of my life when I spend time thinking about ‘how I want to go out’.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      The incidence of lawbreaking by motorists is far greater than by cyclists, and the errant motorists pose a far greater threat to you. Something like 90% of collisions between adult cyclists and motorists are the fault of the motorists. Due to prejudice, motorists are generally oblivious to the almost continuous and universal traffic infractions of drivers, while keenly noting violations by cyclists.

      If a cyclist screws up, you are unlikely to suffer injury or substantial property damage. Yes you will suffer trauma, but at least you know you’re not to blame.

      I don’t know if there has been a scientific study about this, but I’m certain the more one rides a bicycle, the more one while driving is aware of cyclists on the roads and can predict their actions.

      Another part of my approach is to regard cyclists as having greater legitimacy on the roads than I have as a motorist. This does not impair my ability to get around and keeps everyone safer and more relaxed with each other. After all, driving gives me some right to use the roads, it does not make me any more an owner of the roads than cyclists or pedestrians. I believe this approach makes me more aware of cyclists.

      European countries have a lot to teach us about how to share the roads with cyclists and other drivers.

      I always check to my right before turning right unless it is some place where it is utterly impossible a cyclist or motorist could be there.

      My biggest driving fear is falling asleep at the wheel.

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        I doubt your scolding Mr. Dailey to protect the honor of team bicycle helped him. Considering the Freudian nature of the opening of the remark, my conclusion from yours is that you’re one of those bicyclists who charges into the intersection with your twelve friends, all dressed the same, with your flags out, intending to hold all four directions hostage to your establishing it as a space you have more claim to hold.

        Motorists are afraid of bicyclists because a driver knows he’ll kill a bicyclist regardless of who is to blame and he doesn’t want to commit involuntary manslaughter.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Well said, MrGreenMan, I have long decided to give cyclists all the room they need and then some, because killing one will keep me up at night and nobody wants me up all night

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        I do wonder how much of the perception of bad cyclists is tied to how little motorists tend to notice non-automobiles otherwise.

      • 0 avatar
        scott25

        Motorists are considered “at fault” whenever they hit a bike or pedestrian whether it was their fault or not. The biggest fear is financial more than anything else. I worry far more about being sued than I do about injuring or killing someone.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          @scott25

          While in Europe typically the law is that in any collision between a cyclist and a motorist the motorist is assumed to be at fault, I don’t believe this is the case in North America.

          Indeed, anyone who has cycled enough distance and decades in North America can tell you stories about how typically the authorities tried to blame cyclists regardless of the circumstances being otherwise. All a motorist needed to say was: “the cyclist swerved” or “I never saw the cyclist” for an automatic free pass.

          Having cycled for a month in Europe last summer, I experienced how it works there. Because of the legal onus, drivers are very cautious around cyclists. Because their culture respects and values cycling, they are happy to provide decent infrastructure for cyclists. But the oddest thing for a visitor is the culture of how everyone, without even thinking about it, anticipates where each other wants to go and accommodates those needs. Whereas here in North America, when we’re not oblivious to the needs of other road users and actually manage to anticipate what others are doing, it’s usually for the purpose of taking advantage of them.

          The difference between commuters in Utrecht singing as they cycle to work, and angry Torontonians cooped up in traffic jams, is almost astounding.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        @Brandloyalty: sorry but a quick search demonstrates that your initial claim is at best arguable and at worst wrong.

        Cyclists do not have to pass any testing/exam regarding the rules of the road. They don’t have licensing requirements. They don’t carry vehicle insurance. And my fear is not that I will do anything wrong, but that I will injure one, who has put themselves in peril.

        Here are some links demonstrating bicyclists’ culpability in accidents.

        https://torontoist.com/2012/06/ontario-coroner-100-of-cycling-deaths-were-preventable/

        https://www.therecord.com/news-story/2591034-cyclists-at-fault-in-majority-of-bike-vehicle-collisions/

        https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2011/05/20/136462246/when-bikes-and-cars-collide-whos-more-likely-to-be-at-fault

        https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/cyclists/cycling-accidents-factsheet.pdf

        • 0 avatar
          mikey

          Two weeks ago I was driving through rich (very rich ) cottage country . Hwy 169 Bala area . I have my 05 Mustang (top down) and my 15 year old grandson with me. Two lane road lined with solid rock just about everywhere.

          Many cyclists, mostly single file.. Most stay to the right within a foot or so of the pavement. I slow down, and when its safe, I pass giving the 2 feet of clearance required.

          I come around a twisty curve and theres a lone cyclist pretty well in the centre of the lane. If I go right I hit a rock. Left puts me into oncoming traffic. I climb on the brakes, clutch in and pray I don’t kill the dude. Behind me all I hear is tire squealing . No metal was bent nobody got hurt. The lady behind me got her Civic stopped within 2 feet of my bumper..

          It scared the $hit outta me. The cyclist rode on totally oblivious to how close he came to death.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          @Arthur Dailey

          Perhaps your sources had a different perspective because they included child cyclists. Child cyclists have a high proportion of at-fault accidents. However, I specified adult cyclists. I looked at a couple of your links, and neither made this distinction.

          http://urbansystems.ca/new-cycling-safety-report-released-for-the-city-of-vancouver/

          “We found that in 93% of collisions where fault could be determined, cyclists actually had the right of way. There is sometimes a public perception that cyclists don’t follow the signs of the road and cause many or most accidents themselves, but this data gives us a better understanding of what’s actually happening.”

          http://theconversation.com/cars-overwhelmingly-cause-bike-collisions-and-the-law-should-reflect-that-78922

          It is not surprising child cyclists have a lot of accidents riding off sidewalks into intersections. They also have a lot of accidents when emerging from driveways. Which basically is the first place they could collide with a car.

          It is not the fault of cyclists that education, licensing and insurance are generally unavailable. What education is available, and much of the specific insurance, is offered by cycling organizations. It is not the fault of cyclists that car culture prefers to marginalize other road users, including by failing to treat cyclists institutionally as legitimate road users.

          And you may fear colliding with a cyclist. But surveys show that very many people cycle less than they would like to because they fear being hit by motorists. While it is unknown for motorists to avoid driving because they fear colliding with cyclists.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Brandloyalty: thanks for reinforcing my concerns regarding cyclists.

            Regardless of who is at fault, who would want to live with the grief after ‘hitting’ a child/youngster who cycled directly into their path, be it from between parked cars, or through a stop sign?

            As for cyclist rage, here in Ontario there is the famous case of the former Attorney General of the Province being charged after the death of a cyclist, in a case of cyclist ‘rage’.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        I’m sorry but I don’t see motorists blowing through 4 way stops when there are other cars stopped and waiting their turn and I see cyclists do it all the time. Of course at this point I expect that behavior and have not injured cyclists because I’m expecting them to be asshats and ignore the rules of the road.

        One case in point that happened this spring. I was cruising down a road with a 45mph limit that has gravel shoulders, the road is just a few inches wider than the fog line. I time my pass so that I am able to pass him with more of my car in the oncoming lane than my own. Well the road then starts heading down hill to a 4 way stop. So he speeds up while I’m slowing down for the stop. I get to the stop where I’m going to take a right turn. I put my signal on come to a complete stop and then put my eyes on the cyclist who isn’t slowing down inches from my car. Had I been the average driver he likely would have ended up T-boning my car as I took the corner. I gave him a beep on my horn and he looked back at my like I was the one being an asshat.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          I forgot an incident that happened to me 2 summers ago. Stopped at a 4 way intersection, with stop signs at each direction. Looked around started to make my right hand turn (indicator on) and a bicycle going very fast, on the sidewalk, shot right through the stop sign and right in front of me.

          Bicycles are either ‘vehicles’ meaning that they must obey the rules of the road, or pedestrians. It seems that many of them wish to be whatever they want, depending upon which situation best suits them.

        • 0 avatar
          brandloyalty

          Would you like me to elaborate on the thousands of times motorists have endangered, and occasionally even hit me while minding my own business and cycling in accordance with the law?

          Or would you rather hear about the time I was driving, anticipated that an oncoming cyclist on a sidewalk was about to fall off that sidewalk in front of me, and so had just enough time to brake and not hit him? And he expressed gratitude, not a glare.

          • 0 avatar
            John Scott

            Sort of a chicken or the egg thing – do cyclists behave the way they do after being mistreated by motorists or is it the other way around? I’d be happy if the riders would just announce their pass on our local rail-trail – or is startling runners just part of cycling culture?

            When it comes to biggest driving fear that’s pretty straightforward – killing somebody’s texting teenage kid when they drift out of their lane.

          • 0 avatar
            brandloyalty

            @John Scott: “Sort of a chicken or the egg thing – do cyclists behave the way they do after being mistreated by motorists or is it the other way around? I’d be happy if the riders would just announce their pass on our local rail-trail – or is startling runners just part of cycling culture?”

            Cyclists aren’t much into bullying motorists, for obvious reasons. To some extent traffic laws designed for motorists are not appropriate for cyclists. This is why some places are legalizing cyclists not always being required to come to a full stop at stop signs.

            The cyclist/pedestrian interaction is interesting. Often if a cyclist approaching a person on foot from behind gives a warning, the person on foot registers that they must move and moves into the cyclist’s path. If it is more than one person on foot, an alert cyclist knows at least one person will move into their path. So unfortunately it’s somewhat of a guessing game whether to give a warning. But there is no question there are some yahoo cyclists who don’t consider they are startling people on foot.

    • 0 avatar

      Hitting anybody like a cyclist or pedestrian for me. Hit a pedestrian once at near midnight, low speed and left him paralyzed from the waist down. His girlfriend was uninjured. They were walking in the street on the appropriate side – against traffic going north. He was on the street side, she on the curb side. I was going around parked cars (going north also), swung out too wide and struck the gentleman before seeing him. I had glanced down at the clock to check the time as I was going to work (4 blocks away at that point), looked up and there he was. I so deeply regret that evening. Both individuals worked at the same place I did although in different departments. Hardest thing I had to do was go to his family and apologize to them for what I had caused their son. I was sued and went to court. My lawyer asked me what assets I had – at that point $900+ in savings. Told him I was prepared to give them all of it which is what I did. Probably didn’t even make a dent in the medical costs, let alone the effect on the rest of his life.

      As far as cyclists go, I’ve never had a problem except for when RAGBRAI happens here in IA. The cyclists during this across the state ride do not adhere to the laws of the road for the most part. I try to avoid their route when that’s going on. I’m always watching due to the above mentioned incident and, as some have mentioned, I hope that has made me a better driver as a result.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’ve a much bigger fear of bridge supports. They kill way more than bridges themselves. Every tree, telephone pole, blunt object needs
    to be respected.

    Avoid at all costs.

    I lost a good friend to a 100 year old, oak tree. He couldn’t have been doing much more than 35 mph, on the way to pick up his kids on a quiet residential street, 3PM on a Tuesday, probably texting/distracted.

    The Silverado he was driving hit the tree on the passenger side and looked like a freight train drove through it.

    • 0 avatar
      ravenuer

      Sorry about your friend. It just seems odd that something like a Silverado going 35mph would sustain that much damage.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “It just seems odd that something like a Silverado going 35mph would sustain that much damage.”

        Trucks aren’t (or at least weren’t) built to the same safety standards as passenger cars, and non-tested impacts (like a tree on the passenger side rather than a deformable object in an expected location) are difficult even for cars designed with strong safety cells in mind and tend to be ignored by companies that don’t prioritize safety to begin with. So a vehicle that looks quite solid in an IIHS medium-offset crash test can in theory be extremely vulnerable to any unusual impact.

        In a way, the high performance of new cars on medium/small offset crash tests is giving people unrealistic expectations that pretty much everything is ‘safe’ now. Everything is certainly much safer in common crashes, but there’s still a great deal of variance in the crashworthiness of modern vehicles in edge cases.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      A few years ago the city impound lot had a 1980s Monte Carlo that I could see through the fence. It looked as if it had hit a telephone pole going sideways at a very high speed, bending the car so much that the rear and front bumper were within a foot of each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      In my town there was a big tree on a sharp corner that had been struck multiple times over the decades. Recently, a protest resulted in the tree being cut down. I’m betting that soon enough, a drunken SOB will end up plowing through the house on that corner. The only one’s that died on that tree were drunk or stupid. One guy ended up in the river well over 100 metres away from the road.
      I wonder at times why we fight Darwin as much as we do!

  • avatar
    JimZ

    having a truck blow out a tire and getting a road gator in my face while on my motorcycle.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @JimZ – I’ve had that thought pop through my head but I tend to get a sense of anxiety in the pit of my stomach when I see a slow motorhome or transport truck ahead entering a passing lane. There tends to be at least one moron parked on the azz end of that lumbering beast that darts out to look or to pass. I’ve had near misses several times.
      I appreciate seeing those “if you can’t see my mirrors i can’t see you” stickers on the back of big rigs.

    • 0 avatar
      packardhell1

      Have you watched the Mythbusters episode on that? It wasn’t pretty :(

  • avatar
    scott25

    I usually fear smaller bridges more than large highway bridges. But even that is minor.

    I’m usually worried about wind blowing something, whether cargo or a vehicle into me while I’m beside/behind it, of wheels and tires flying off, and of vehicles behind me not stopping.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I don’t usually fear bridge crossings. Even metal grated decks on a motorcycle don’t bother me but there is a very long one lane industrial bridge on the Upper Fraser that gets my heart pumping a bit faster. The side rails are only 2 feet high and at least 40 feet above the river. I envision a loaded logging truck entering the other end of the bridge when I’m 1/2 way across. Blame it on “Dual” with Dennis Weaver I guess.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    My wife is terrified of cars falling of a car carrier trailer. It probably didn’t help that I showed her “Bad Boys 2” a few months ago, in which there’s a scene where this happens (albeit intentionally).

    Only obviously neglected bridges scare me. We used to drive over the old Tappan Zee Bridge with the windows down in case it gave out, which I don’t think was unreasonable given how decrepit it got toward the end. It was super fun on cold winder days. I’m from St. Petersburg Florida, where people still talk about the Sunshine Skyway bridge collapse (hit by a freighter during a storm) almost 40 years ago.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Actually I completely forgot that “hitting a moose” is actually by far my biggest fear. Any sort of large animal that could appear completely at random and you can’t do anything about it.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My fear is of those landscape and lawn care contractors, which carry dozens of semi-loose items on a poorly maintained trailer.

    Either some object will come flying off the trailer, or the trailer itself could loose control and spray a bunch of items on the highway, (including heavy items like lawnmowers or tractors).

    The end result is that vehicles behind will start swerving and braking, causing a chain reaction of collisions.
    That happened to me in early June. Fortunately I was about 500 yards behind, and I had enough time to brake and avoid the pile up.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    The teen daughter of one of my wife’s clients was killed while her mom was following an 18-wheeler on the freeway. One of the overheated brakes on the trailer axle exploded and the shrapnel went through the windshield and partially severed her head. I do not follow these things closely anymore

  • avatar
    e30gator

    Fear #1: I hate when people pace me/drive right next to my car on the interstate, speeding up and slowing down as I do. I fear this because I’m always thinking that they’re going to swerve into my lane at any moment.

    Fear #2: Brodozers. Many who own them seem to drive like they’re invincible and without concern for other people’s safety. I like small cars, but rarely take my Z3 out anymore after nearly being side-swiped several times by speeding and oblivious dudebros.

    Fear #3: People who text and drive. I’ve been rear-ended in traffic three times now by people on their damn cellphones. I also see these idiots texting while driving in heavy interstate traffic, through school zones, flying down urban streets, etc. People should be unable to send or receive texts while in motion in a car.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Other drivers, especially those with their heads into something other than driving.

    Cyclists are predictable for the most part. You know they are going to blow the stop sign and you know they will maintain a consistent speed. I absolutely don’t LIKE how they behave, but I don’t fear them.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    Trailers…an oncoming Winnebago traveling 60 mph lost its cargo trailer that damned near killed 4 of us in our Subaru wagon and our friends behind in their Civic. I juked right and the cargo trailer sheared off my mirror, cut a gash downed the driver’s side and neatly clipped off the tail light lens. My friend driving the Civic stood on his brakes and laid 100’ feet of rubber as the trailer passed in front of him. Trailers…yikes.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Rural level crossings and railway bridges. The former are often poorly marked and obscured from view, the latter ill-maintained. Several years ago a local woman and her young daughter died when several boxcars tumbled off a railway bridge and crushed their minivan stopped in traffic under it.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      In my hometown there’s an underpass where the East-West US highway I was traveling on goes under the North-South highway bridge. Paralleling the N-S highway is a railway bridge close enough it could be misconstrued as divided highway bridges. Eastbound one morning with damp roads and light traffic coming up to these bridges at speed I see chunks of concrete fall from below the deck of the railway bridge. I slam on the brakes and lose sight of the concrete past my hood before it hits the ground. My rear wheels lock up and I cut a tire skidding over the debris.

      I didn’t know to be afraid of that until that day.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I’m going to agree with the first one, Steph, though not quite the same as yours. I hate city driving not so much for the fear of someone stepping out in the street but more for unobservant drivers or reckless drivers making a sudden maneuver which could cause a crash, whether or not I get collected in said crash. In now over 40 years of driving, I’ve seen a lot of what I call ‘idiocy’ on the roads and honestly it’s gotten much worse as the highways get more congested. You’ve got some drivers who are seemingly afraid to drive (not just Toyota Corolla drivers) and others who think they’re professional street racers on the highway at the same time. Add any kind of weather to this and the highway becomes a carnival bumper-car ride. (In one case, had a car spin a 180 in the lane directly in front of me on I-95. If I hadn’t already slowed due to rain AND seeing the “idiot” being forced into a sudden maneuver, I would have hit them. As it was, nobody got hit and other drivers gave the car the opportunity to get turned back around without any crashes.)

    But to unreasoning fears… I can’t honestly claim to have any of which I’m aware. Well, maybe one. I have no problem with tall bridges, heights or anything else unless there are no guard rails in place. On the other hand, having driven some rather large vehicles over the years, I do worry about narrow areas… chicanes, as it were. Old two-lane bridges trying to carry three lanes, for instance. As cars have developed over the years, they’ve gotten wider and pickup trucks have gone to an extreme. It’s one reason I call full-sized pickup trucks, Road Whales™. While I’ve never sideswiped any bridge or other car, such narrowing of the lanes does ramp up my stress levels.

  • avatar
    volvo

    Least pleasant for me is to be in the carpool lane (#1 lane) which is moving at the limit of 65 mph or faster and the #2 lane is moving at perhaps 10mph. I always worry that a driver doesn’t see me and jukes into the carpool lane in front of so close I cannot stop. Where I live you can enter or leave the carpool lanes at any point

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      ^ This!

      Driving down a freeway lane next to a line of stopped or slow-moving traffic freaks me out! I always make sure there’s room on the other side, and that my brights and four-ways are activated, just so I make sure I’m seen!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Stuff falling out of or off of cars, pickup trucks, etc. In my first week of living in Atlanta, I was on 285 following a pickup truck that had numerous paint cans in the bed, but the tailgate was down. A couple of good bumps and one of the paint cans fell off the truck. It fell in a manner similar to an American football does, spinning around, on each end and then darting off in a different direction with each bounce. I managed to avoid the fray, but I have no idea how.

    Tractor trailers jackknifing. Also had that happen while in Atlanta. I believe the truck was cut off and swerved to avoid hitting the offending car. This happened in the rain however and the driver did not have the traction he thought he did. He managed to swoop wildly across six lanes, occupying four at a time. A good time was had by all in attendance.

    People texting. No further explanation needed.

    Pacers. Not the AMC, the dingbat people who are not situationally aware enough to do their own driving so they pace you. I’m an eagle-eye in my rear view mirrors because of these people, if I have to suddenly swerve into another lane, I’m afraid one of these brain dead morons will be there.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    I fear nothing negotiating stationary and moving mass. Survived semi tire separation impacting windshield, detached wheel smashing into front end, multiple rear end collisions, drive over bridges with abandon, witness vehicles roll overs, semi truck engulfed in flames, overloaded trailer tire blowouts, teenagers texting through intersections, bicyclist pedaling center of the road and Kane Kane County sheriff drug interdiction stop for 3 hours.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Having the semi I’m stuck beside fall over on top of me, or have something else happen, because the idiot ahead of me in the left lane refuses to budge from the damn speed limit and actually PASS!

    Also, big-time fear that I’ll end up at the back of a slow or stopped line of traffic, and an approaching semi won’t see until it’s too late. Which is why I put the four-ways on whenever I have to brake hard, or am even forced to drive below the posted speed limit due to traffic or other conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      I started seeing this “four ways on when braking hard, hazard ahead or last car in line” idea when watching traffic videos from other parts of the world years ago . I use it too.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    For me, several scenarios scare the willies out of me:

    1. Me hitting someone because of not being situationally aware due to being legally blind in my left eye. THAT brings chills down my back because like most on here, I take my privilege of driving very seriously.

    Being the baby chick sandwiched between or wedged in by semis.

    4. Ditto in a car among SUVs.

    5. Someone else losing control of their vehicle too close for comfort to me.

    6. ME losing control of my vehicle near someone else.

    7. Some idiot driving the wrong way in the opposite lane on the highway.

    That sums up most of my fears.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    I’m seeing a lot of rational fears listed here. Staying away from trucks, cargo, etc. is smart.

    My irrational fear is being parked at a light under an overpass, specifically the ones with the huge concrete supports. I’ll sometimes intentionally situate my car so that (I think) if the thing comes tumbling down it will crush the front and rear of my car and I will be dug out in a day or so.

    • 0 avatar
      packardhell1

      “My irrational fear is being parked at a light under an overpass, specifically the ones with the huge concrete supports.”

      Mine is this, but under railroad overpasses. I’m stuck there and the train is sitting there right above me. I feel like the bridge can’t take the stationery weight and it will collapse on top of me (the train + concrete). I just don’t like that.

      My less-irrational fear is someone coming across to my side of the interstate in a head-on collision. I spend quite a bit of time on the interstate (I-55) with my two kids in our Accent and we would likely not survive that kind of impact. I think about that consistently from the time I hit the interstate to the time I get off of it. I don’t think about it on local roads/highways.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    My first big fear is putting a big non-refundable deposit on a dual motor Tesla Model 3 and having the government take away my big EV subsidy the day before delivery. My 2nd big fear is driving my gasoline car to the Tesla dealer to make my trade and suddenly being flooded and drowned by melting glaciers: If only Elon had stopped his tweeting and prioritized my Tesla for a day earlier delivery I might have gotten my subsidy and saved the polar bears.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Subhumans who feel their phone is more important than the lives of everyone around them. Whether it’s a divided road or not, on my side of the road or in oncoming traffic, I want to take these people and blow their head off with a shotgun until people start learning by example.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I have a smart phone and I keep looking at it expecting something miraculous to happen, it never does :(

    • 0 avatar
      Alcolawl

      A bit extreme… But, texting while driving is super idiotic and all too prevalent. It’s so easy to spot when behind them too. The eyes darting up at the road and then back down at the phone over and over. They never check their mirrors. What gets me is the police around here will pull you over for moderately tinted windows or doing 6mph over the speed limit, but never yank anybody for texting and driving.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Don’t forget the “mobile gap” caused by phones too. People are driving distracted in traffic, but they see brake lights over their phone. So they stop and bury themselves in their device more. Not realizing they stopped and have left a 2 car length gap between them and the next car. Rolling traffic suffers the same problem.

  • avatar
    CobraJet

    A couple of years ago on New Years day, my wife and I were traveling on a two lane road in my 94 Silverado pickup. I noticed an approaching Ford Ranger pickup slowly drift over the line. He kept coming into my lane and at the very last moment, I jerked the wheel to the right, jumped a shallow ditch at 55 mph, hit a telephone junction box and got on the brakes. I stopped in a front yard of someone’s house. We were not hurt, other than our backs got twisted from the jolt, and my truck was only slightly damaged. The other driver continued off the pavement on my side, hit a mailbox and crashed into a tree. The driver was ok and admitted he had fallen asleep.

    Now on any two lane road, I am very sensitive to approaching vehicles and am alert to any movement they make toward the dividing line.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    For decades driving with water on both sides of the car really spooked me. Wasn’t crazy about tall bridges or even driving to the Keys, but even more cringe-worthy was driving near same-level water like a bayou or river.

    The last 10 years though my paranoia has shifted to deer. I hit one driving 15 mph on the beach in Corpus; then 3 years ago hit one at 80 mph in upstate NY. Stupid vile creatures.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Amen on Bambi. If you hit them hard enough, not bad roadkill dining as it is pre-tenderized. But your cost per pound is going to be pretty high. Hit one as I fortunately was slowing for a stop sign – a big sumbitch buck. Not tasty though.

  • avatar
    F-85

    Most of the fears described here are simply recognition of known risks. Very prudent. Shows good judgment. My irrational fear is driving in the edge-most lane on a mountainside. Literally makes my palms sweat, and I’m unable to “take in the view” until parked.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Have you ever driven Pacific Coast Hwy from end to end? Yeah, that’s something else I’ll only do once, but it was beautiful, I’ll never forget it

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        Try driving up Pikes Peak

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Try a BC West coast logging road especially on Haida Gwaii?
          or going down “the hill” on the freedom road to Bella Coola.

          The secret is very simple; *don’t* look at where you *don’t* want to go. Focus on where you want to go.
          A very common mistake in relation to crash avoidance. If you fixate on the threat, you hit the threat.
          Here is a drill to explain this point:
          Try walking in a straight line across a field when you look at a point off the side of your direction of travel. We are hardwired to go in the direction our eyes are focused.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            Any kind of “crash avoidance” skills around here are considered a menace to society by some of the B&B and totally unnecessary unless you’re constantly putting yourself in harms way, not paying attention, not being a responsible driver, etc, just so you can use some of those skills and can maybe figure a way out for yourself.

            But if you ask me, driving can easily turn into something very much like “racing” in a split second and may be totally the other guy’s fault, or nobody’s fault at all.

            Yeah it bothers me, all they teach you in Driver’s Ed is steer into the skid.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Bridges don’t bother me going across. They should, since I live in a city with many bridges, most rated deficient by investigators.

    I worry about stuff falling off of trucks and pieces of bridges falling off as I drive beneath them. And, we had a few weeks years ago when morons thought it’d be funny to throw debris from a 35ft railroad trestle onto 60 mph traffic.

    But I cannot fathom how people think their mobile device is more important than driving. I’m afraid I’ll be (or a family member)hit by an idiot distracted driving. I’m worried one of my kids will be a victim to an inattentive moron, no matter how many times I tell them no one pays attention and to know what’s going on around them. I was behind a guy absolutely buried in his phone, constantly doing between 60-70 mph in moderate (but moving)traffic in the left lane. I laid into the horn, used the high beams, anything to wake this guy up. He gives me a dirty look and flips me off like I’m wrong, as I pass him on the right because he won’t move over either.

    My hatred of people’s inability to drive has gotten worse. I hate the idea of getting a ticket for an obscene speed or reckless driving because it’s frowned upon in my career. But, I loathe the idea of being stuck near inattentive stooges who stay right next to each other on highways and every other awful trait that is magnified by distracted driving.

  • avatar
    JaySeis

    I gave up road cycling years ago when it became obvious that distracted driving had become so common that I was going to eventually get clipped by a __________(insert any type of vehicle). And our roads are narrow. I’m on the beach, gravel roads, trails now. Much happier now.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Reading through the comments got me thinking about irrational, yet remotely plausible, automobile fears. I’d have to say mine is encountering someone bent on committing suicide with their vehicle.

    I recall sad story several years back about a man who decapitated his wife and drove around with her head. He got depressed about this, and decided to end it all by colliding with an oncoming hatchback. Killed the lady and toddler daughter in the hatchback. The man, of course, survived. I remember the story clearly because responding EMT’s realized something extra-extra wrong when after gathering all the carnage they had a spare head.

    And I knew a person who I sometimes suspect may have done such a thing, though he’s not around to talk about it (’88 Accord head-on with a Kenworth at combined ~130mph). The Kenworth driver survived, though with significant burns.

    We always, without a thought, make assumption driver coming other way is at fundamental level just like us in wanting to live, to avoid the collision.

    On rarest of occasions, that is not true.

    • 0 avatar
      road_pizza

      Back in ’88 I was driving my ’77 Silverado and stopped at a stop sign not far from my house when an 82 year old man driving a Cavalier slammed into the back of my truck going at least 45. He was distraught that his wife of many years had a major stroke and was on his way to commit suicide…

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    One of my ongoing fears, well maybe awarenesses (if I can use that as a word in this instance) would be the grossly differing speeds on the highway, specifically when merging. Last week I was trying to get on the freeway and the guy in front of me is doing 35 mph, I’m leaving my car in 3rd because I want to make sure I can get around him and not get smoked when I hit the freeway. As I approach the freeway, artifically limited to 35 mph, a guy already on the road changes lanes into the spot I needed and accelerates at well above the posted speed. Dunderhead in front of me is so absentminded that he never notices. I try to anticipate the lunacy and keep the 5 or 6 carlengths in order to build up a margin for error and reaction time, but it’s near to impossible when you can’t poke into the next lane over for fear of upsetting the racetrack.

  • avatar
    Shortest Circuit

    Mine is drowning in an elevator that unknowingly descends into a flooded basement. This actually happens 2-3 times a year, unlike a major bridge collapse.
    And bears. I fear bears too.

  • avatar
    Carroll Prescott

    Picture this, Virginia 1993. (voice of Sofia Petrillo).

    Rainy interstate, sparsely occupied. Coming over a bridge and then down the hill. Behind me in the right lane (I was in the center) was an 18 wheeler. As I was coming down off the hill I recognized something in my lane. Having only time to react to not slamming into it, I slammed on the brakes.

    The car spun and then traveled backwards. I could here the 18 wheeler blaring his horn. The car continued backwards across slow lane and a entrance merge lane and headed backwards toward a guard rail.

    I somehow missed hitting anything (or getting squashed by the 18 wheeler.

    What was in the lane that I avoided?

    An overstuffed recliner that had fallen out of a pickup truck that I ended up passing as I tried to calm myself down heading back home.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    I hear ya about tall bridges, tho the wider the bridge the less fear I have. I also have a bit of claustrophobia in tunnels, especially ones under waterways. ESPECIALLY ones under waterways with leaky ceilings. Like the Detroit tunnels…


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