Awareness saved my life

For many years, in every one of my classes I have commented to the class that the typical middle class person is more likely to become a casualty at the hands of a motor maniac than from a criminal.

Yesterday was nearly the day for me. Fortunately, being aware of my surroundings kept me from getting killed or seriously injured. As Tom Givens says:

“Who is around me and what are they doing?”

On my daily walk, I crossed a four lane local street. There’s no intersection nearby so I had to cross the street where I could. A rape/murder van (beat-up full size van with no windows) was approaching so I waited for it to pass and then crossed behind it. Although those vans usually have rear windows, this particular one was even worse since the driver side rear window had been replaced with plywood.

As I crossed behind it, the driver immediately stopped, threw it into reverse, and hit the gas. Because I had my head up and was paying attention, I saw the white backup lights come on. This was a clue to me that I had better quickly move out of the way, which I did by sprinting to the other side of the street.

Then as I quickly walked down the sidewalk, the maniac continued to back up the street in the same direction I was going. Starting to think it was some Central American assassin coming to make amends, I got my hand on my pea shooter under my shirt but didn’t draw it quite yet.

Finally, he stopped and turned into the driveway of the shopping center on my side of the street. Then he drove into the drive-thru of the Burger King and ordered something. I proceeded on my way after visually verifying that he wasn’t an assassin but was actually just a moron like Joe Biden.

The incident is a good example of why I never wear ear buds to enjoy distractions on my cell phone when I’m walking. Further, I follow Bill Rogers’ advice to ramp up my awareness when the situation changes. Crossing the street is a situation change.

“When you’re driving and you see the first few raindrops on your windshield, it’s time to stop daydreaming and pay more attention to what’s going on around you.”

I was only a few feet behind the van and had, at best, two seconds to get out of its way. If I had been distracted and not acted instantly, I would have ended up under his wheels.

After surviving all the health issues I have over the past four years, getting killed by a fool in a motor vehicle who’s only thinking about a Bacon, Sausage & Ham Fully Loaded CROISSAN’WICH would have been a real tragedy. But I’m in one piece because I pay attention to what’s around me.

As a general protocol, I stay as far away from those vans as I can. If there’s one in a parking lot, I drive to the other side of the lot to park, regardless of how far I have to walk.

This post is also an opportunity for me to plug the idea of taking a Defensive Driving Class, which is the point of my comment in my firearms training classes. The last time I took it, I was the only one in the class who wasn’t there because a court made them. That’s sad.

4 responses

  1. Glad to hear you’re OK. After 50 years on a motorcycle I’m pretty good in traffic, but less so in other circumstances. I do try to practice. About your last paragraph: What I’d suggest is a defensive driving skills class. Emergency handling, skid control, threshold braking, etc. in their cars. Did that for both my sons, paying for my grandkids. They used to have one at Road Atlanta but the best one I know of now is at Virginia International Raceway. Not cheap, but worth it. Shortly after Josh took the class he was driving home when a kid rode a skateboard out of a driveway in front of him. He steered around the kid, which I know he couldn’t have done before because I taught him to drive and there was no place to learn a skill like that.

  2. I still remember Paul Harrell talking about taking care of “the more likely stuff” (my words), like having charged fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in your residence, and other simple-to-do stuff like locking car and house doors (and me checking my pockets for above keys before locking!)
    Not quite as simple, but Defensive Driving is a good preventative thing I can do since I still drive with who-knows under whatever-influence. Thank you this advice.

  3. Back many years ago in driver’s training, my 70 odd year old teacher made a big deal out of not stopping right behind another car right at a stoplight, but leaving space so you could see their tires. This gave you room to move out, if the car behind you was too close and you had to leave.

    I think he meant it for stalled cars, but it works just as well for more untoward situations…thanks.

  4. […] Don’t discount the power of situational awareness.  It recently save Claude Werner’s life. […]

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