I was almost killed on the highway this week

Skid marks

I was almost killed on the highway this week.

I was driving in the right-hand lane of I-40/I-85 doing the speed limit in attempt to avoid the crazy, madcap maneuvers that transpire constantly on this four-lane highway. Suddenly the driver of a white sedan two lanes over seemed to realize he was about to miss his exit, so he swerved across several lanes of traffic on a direct collision course for me. Why go to the next exit and turn around when you could endanger the lives of everyone on the road instead, right? I jerked the steering wheel to the right, slammed on my brakes, and somehow managed to barely end up on the exit ramp he’d been aiming for, though I’d traveled way outside the painted lines. I didn’t check, but I’m fairly certain I left skid marks on the road.

How did we avoid a collision? I do not know. If I’d been fiddling with my MP3 player at the time, we probably would have crashed. Thankfully I was paying attention to the road and my body reacted without much thinking. The only two thoughts I remember having while I swerved were “Don’t overcorrect!” because people in accidents often swerve too far to avoid a crash and end up causing another one, and “Dear God, I hope there’s not a concrete divider at the corner of this exit ramp.” Thankfully there was not.

As I continued down the ramp I could see the white sedan in my rearview mirror. I seriously considered giving him the finger as I drove on, but didn’t because I was so shaken up. If I had it to do over again I would definitely give this asshole the finger. He’d nearly ended the story of me and I am not ready for the credits to start rolling yet.

The funniest part? This all transpired at the Efland exit. Effing Efland indeed!

The second funniest part? I was on my way to a biofeedback appointment where I was supposed to learn how to control my breath and heart rate so I can be zen and chill out. As you might have guessed, nearly dying on the expressway is not good for your resting heart rate.

This incident was the second scariest thing to ever happen to me on the highway. The only thing scarier was the time I was driving in the snow and someone sped past on my left, throwing so much snow on my windshield that I could see absolutely nothing as I was travelling 60 mph around a curve. The second it took for my intermittent windshield wipers to clear the windshield was probably the longest second of my life. At least during my most recent incident I could see what was happening and had the chance to determine my fate.

I don’t know how the physics would have played out if we’d collided, so I don’t know if I would have been killed or seriously injured or just left with a case of whiplash. I’m really glad I did not find out. But the whole incident made me realize how ridiculous it is that we drive around in metal projectiles at inhumanly fast speeds and like to pretend that we’re assured we’ll get where we’re going without getting dead. In this case I did absolutely nothing wrong. I wasn’t even going 5-10 over the speed limit like I normally do when I drive in town! My life could have come to an end because some asshole couldn’t be bothered to check his blind spot.

After the near accident I started to wonder what would have happened if I had been killed. Who would tell my family? Would someone feed the cat in a timely manner? How long would it take for my clients to find out? Would they ask my family for their deposits back since the dead girl obviously wouldn’t be able to finish their web sites? What was the last thing I blogged about? The last thing I tweeted? Would anyone be able to get into my various online accounts to close up matters? Where would the funeral be? How many people would come? Would I be buried or cremated? Did I leave anything embarrassing in my apartment? On my hard drive?

They say the most dangerous part of flying is driving to the airport, and when you’re driving on I-40 I believe this is especially true. I have heard more stories about crazy shit happening on I-40 than I have about any other highway in any town I’ve lived in. Granted, this might be because we have social media now and I’m much more likely to hear about other people’s horror stories on Facebook than I was when I lived elsewhere.

The ironic thing is that I used to be much more aggressive on the expressway than I am now, mostly because I used to drive on the expressway all the time to get to work. I knew exactly what lane to be in to avoid the slower traffic and when I should start moving toward the right lane. When I was in college I would sometimes drive 80 mph down I-64 as I traveled between Lexington and Louisville, feeling like I was flying when I soared down the bridge across the Kentucky river. If I could talk to my college-aged self I would say, “SLOW THE HELL DOWN!!!!” Good God, girl, don’t you know you’re driving a missile? I am a much more cautious driver now that I only travel on the highway once or twice a month, and when I do it’s usually only for 3-5 miles each way.

On the way back from my appointment I saw a set of black skid marks at another exit and it made me wonder like I never had before about what had happened to cause those skid marks and if the driver had been as terrified as I had been. Every skid mark tells a story. If you ever visit Efland you’ll drive past mine.

Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away
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Natalie • June 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Well I’m glad you’re ok.

I was wondering the other day, if someone dies in your house (say a heart attack in the night and is very dead when you find them) who do you call? An ambulance? It’s way too late to save them. The police? But there is no crime. A funeral home?

The things we thing about.

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Natalie • June 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm

*think, obviously

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JenFul • June 9, 2014 at 12:19 am

@Natalie – Well, if that happened to me I’d call 911 and let them know someone was dead, so they should come but they didn’t need to rush on over. They’d probably send an ambulance so the paramedic could confirm the person was deceased and then they’d take the body to the morgue until a funeral home worker came to claim it.

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VeeGee • June 9, 2014 at 6:21 am

Bring on driverless cars! I can’t wait. We’ll all be a lot safer without morons like me on the road.

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Teresa • June 9, 2014 at 7:44 am

@JenFul – You can call 911 or the cops because they have to check out the scene and then call the coroner. The body can not be removed until the coroner pronounces it dead. I don’t believe that you can call the coroner directly, I think he or she has to be contacted by police or paramedics.

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Jenny • June 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Very glad you’re ok!

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Merry • June 10, 2014 at 2:01 am

I’m likewise glad you’re okay. Oddly enough last night I had an uneasy dream about cars along the route I usually drive. This afternoon, on the way home, I had to come to a complete stop on a highway. Then, in my rearview mirror, I saw a pickup truck coming up behind us, traveling at a great speed. I know it was too fast, because in my rear view mirror, I saw him coming up behind me way too quickly, then I saw his truck swaying across the road, while I saw his hands on the steering wheel moving back and forth as he approached. Luckily, the guy ahead of me moved on at the last minute, or I would’ve joined the Statistics roll of boredom.

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JenFul • June 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm

@Merry – I’m glad you weren’t killed on the road too!

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Missa • June 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm

I am relieved that you are not injured.
Your story is far from over.

One can only hope it scared that crap out of him.

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Kari • June 10, 2014 at 1:30 pm

One of our neighbors when we lived in an apartment a few years ago, passed away in his sleep on the sofa and his roommates didn’t realize it until later that afternoon when they came home from work and he was still on the sofa. They called 911 and paramedics came, evaluated the scene, called the coroner, and then the paramedics carried his body out and took it away in the ambulance. A police officer knocked on our door a little while later just to ask if we had heard any strange noises and what kind of neighbors they were. They were quiet, good neighbors, no strange noises. And that was the end of it.

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Valerie | From Valerie's Kitchen • June 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

That’s so scary, Jennette. So glad that it turned out the way it did. I’ve thought all those same thoughts – how in the heck is anyone going to figure out how to do all the stuff that I do? All the online accounts, bill paying, not to mention my blog. Yikes.

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Dan • June 10, 2014 at 5:53 pm

@Natalie. In New York State, the deceased person would be transported to the hospital from the house by ambulance. Ambulance EMTs can not make a death determination– only a medical physician can. An autopsy would then be performed to ascertain cause of death by the county medical examiner as it is classified an unattended death.

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Naomi • June 11, 2014 at 8:49 am

How scary! Very glad you’re okay.

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yazz • June 15, 2014 at 10:11 am

Hey Jennette!

I’m really glad you weren’t killed on the road!

I don’t drive, but cycle everywhere (the town I live in is rather small, and wherever else I go I take the train), and I’m also amazed at how many uncaring and distracted drivers speed around.

I see (non-fatal, I hope) accidents nearly every day, going from slightly scratched cars to trucks stuck in trains.

I’ve always wondered: Even if you stick to the speed limit on highways, do you have a chance to react and save yourself if someone else goes nuts? Your posting seems to say that, yes, if you pay attention, you can. I’m glad you paid attention!

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Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

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