When I got to work this morning and thought about my commute, I had the thought, “Yeah, that could have resulted in a fatality.”
When I left home this morning, the sky was overcast and the air was raw, but there was no precipitation. I stopped at Royal Farms to get some gas, and then got on 83 at Leader Heights Road, as I always do. Still no precipitation.
I was following behind someone in a Toyota pick-up truck with a covered bed. Light, wispy flurries began as I crossed Lake Redman, and the Toyota was holding to the speed limit, which through that stretch of road is 55. Many people take it much faster, but I don’t. As I mentioned the other day, driving in Virginia instilled the “stay within 5 miles of the speed limit” lesson in me.
Traffic climbed the hill to the Loganville exit. I didn’t really notice that the Toyota had dropped down to about 50. I had an 18-wheeler right on my tail, and we were being passed by traffic that took that stretch of road at 65-80 miles an hour.
Coming down the hill, right before the speed limit increases to 65, there was a tractor trailer truck pulled off the highway, just barely across the white line, with reflectors out. The Toyota in front of me hit its brakes to slow down even more.
This is a stretch of highway that goes down a hill, around a curve, and then back up the hill. It’s not uncommon for vehicles to go through the guard rail and into the trees in the ravine at the curve.
Now, I had no idea what was behind me except for the 18-wheeler, and I processed that I really had nowhere to go. Thankfully, the 18-wheeler behind me had someplace to go, and that was into the passing lane coming down the hill. He shot past me, and on the hill back up I passed the Toyota, now going far below the speed limit of 65 and the 18-wheeler that had been on my tail.
If there hadn’t been anywhere for the 18-wheeler to go, someone was likely to end up smashed, and someone was likely to end up in the tree branches or the ravine below.
I thought of none of this at the time. It’s only in retrospect that I realized, “Yes, that could have ended very badly indeed.”