Call me “Crash”
Interstate 85N in Atlanta. Seventy miles per hour. Minding your own business. Glance quickly in the rear-view mirror and note a maroon Grand Am flying up behind and drifting across lanes. Your brain begins to process the Grand Am's speed (way faster than yours) and trajectory. You think to yourself “Hmmm…looks like he's going to pass immediately behind me if he doesn't…”
C R A S H
So now you're flying along at 70mph but the ride isn't quite what it was just a moment ago. The van is careering out of control, threatening to spin or flip at any moment. With a struggle (and a good dose of adrenaline), you get the van back under control and the traffic around you has parted like the Red Sea so you're able to pull over to the shoulder without creaming another car or cars. You pull up right behind the maroon Grand Am and stop, your hands still shaking, one contact lens dislodged and resting on your cheek. The other guy — dazed — gets out of his car and walks back to your car and (are you sitting down?) says to you: “Did you just hit me?!”
Shaking your head — surely you heard wrong! — you respond: “No! You hit me!” That's when the signs of realization cross the other driver's face and he says “Oh My God! I was up all night. I fell asleep!”
Heck of a way to start the day, but that's exactly what happened to me this morning around 10:45am. Thank God nobody was hurt. Thank the Georgia Law Enforcement Training Center for the exceptional training I received in Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) and Advanced EVOC when I was a police officer, without which I doubt I could have recovered the van so effectively. Everything I learned in that grueling course took over and got things under control quickly.
The van I was driving wasn't mine, it was my father-in-law's. (His immediate response after determining I was OK: “You know, the passenger door had dings in it and you didn't even manage to wrinkle it in the wreck. Could you try to aim better next time?”) My wife was driving my beloved MINI, as her van is in the shop getting a new transmission (which is a whole other story for another day).
Damage to the van appears at first glance to be fairly minor, but upon closer inspection there could be some pretty serious problems. The rear bumper and doors (this van doesn't have a liftgate) are toast, and it appears that the sliding door on the passenger side is badly out of alignment. There are other telltale signs that several body panels have shifted, which doesn't usually bode well.
At least both I and the other driver walked away uninjured. At least, I believe we were both uninjured. He hit his head on the windshield and put a star in it (the windshield). No bump or blood, but those things can sneak up on you. I hope he's OK. As for me, I've got some vague muscle soreness, but nothing to worry about.
Just remember to tell your loved ones that they're loved ones. You never know when the unexpected will happen, and it's not always something you walk away from.