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Back in 2010 my hubby and I were visiting family and friends in the Santa Barbara, California area. Since we lived in Europe, we had to rent a car to get around the freeway systems. I'm the driver in the family, and try to be extra careful when carrying passengers. And I thought I was.
On this trip I was driving on the on-ramp to the 101 south, and I thought I was paying attention. But suddenly under my hands the steering wheel changed direction.
It felt like a strong wind was moving my hands away from traffic, from the left to the right while I was still gripping the steering wheel. It was just enough to miss colliding with a trailer tractor passing me at full speed on my left, which thankfully zoomed by without colliding.
If the angel hadn't taken over my steering wheel I would not be around now to write this cautionary tale.
Look over your shoulder on the side where you are merging before pulling into traffic.
Don't count on the rearview mirrors to give the complete view. A vehicle – car, truck, bike, motorcycle, may be coming up alongside you.
In this instance, after the truck sped by along my left side I continued driving farther down the ramp, before looking back over my left shoulder, to be sure I could safely fit in the flow of traffic.
A couple of lessons from this near-crash were as I already said, look over your shoulder on the side where merging into traffic, and if you can't fit in, pull to the shoulder and wait till there is plenty of space.
There is no shame in sitting still waiting while others pull out and pass you on the ramp from behind. Safety has to come first when driving.
This is similar to the lesson from childhood on crossing the street: Stop, look, and listen – then look again.
As an adult, before merging your vehicle into traffic look over your shoulder on the side where you are merging, and check the rear view mirrors, too.
Story by Susan Helene Kramer; photo of freeway by Stan Schaap
Copyright © 2018 Susan Helene Kramer