QOTD: Fear Takes the Wheel?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd fear takes the wheel

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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2 of 96 comments
  • Carroll Prescott Carroll Prescott on Aug 20, 2018

    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.

  • Road_pizza Road_pizza on Sep 19, 2018

    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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