Former motorcycle rider and car enthusiast. Three things saved my family’s life today:
- Checking my rear view mirror every few seconds
- Winter Performance Tires (Michelin Alpin PA4)
- 400HP w/ AWD
We live in a Western PA which has lots of beautiful 2 lane, curving, hilly roads. On one of these roads is my daughter’s daycare. While there is usually some traffic, it is pretty rare to wait to turn left into the parking lot. Today was different. There was a 18 wheeler coming the other direction so I make a complete stop with blinker on and check my rear view mirror, it is clear.
I wait for the slow moving truck to pass. Just as he gets to me, I realize there are two more cars behind it hugging the right side of the road for some reason. Guess I will have to wait a little longer. Since it has been a few seconds, my internal timer goes off and says “Check your six”. Motorcycle riding books drilled this home to me and even in my cage I still practice it. There is now a large semi truck cresting the hill a few hundred yards behind me. He thinks I can turn left after the truck passes and isn’t slowing (assuming he was paying attention). He doesn’t know there are two more cars behind the truck. The speed limit on this road is 45mph, there is no way he is stopping in time and with a half width shoulder, he can’t go around me. I have to make a decision, I might be able to floor it and go straight and hope he brakes some while I speed up. The problem, I have already turned the wheel some of the way to go left. I look forward again and judge the last car. There is now a dump truck coming the other way, but I definitely have space to make the left. Check my six again, the truck has started to move into the half shoulder and doesn’t even seem to be slowing. As I wait for the two tailgaters to go by time feels like it has stopped. I check my six again and realize I am out of time. I go off the brake and onto the gas as fast as possible. The second car passes me as I begin to move. My daughter screams “Weeeeee” as I stare in the rear mirror. The truck misses us by inches.
If I had all seasons on, I might have made it, but unlikely because the wheel spin would have got me (tires wouldn’t have been warm enough yet and it was 28F). If I had RWD/FWD and floored it, traction control or wheel spin would have slowed me too much. If I had an automatic stop/start system, I probably would have been hit. If I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a quick accelerating car, I would have been hit. In all the scenarios above, the truck would have probably only gotten a piece of my rear and sent me spinning into the parking lot. We’d be alive and with mild injuries.
If I hadn’t checked my six the second time, we would have been hit by an 18 wheeler from behind and likely been launched into the path of a dump truck.
TLDR: Be safe out there and CHECK YOUR SIX.