Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Luck, Divine Intervention, or Past Experience


A friend asked the following question about the accident I captured via a “dash cam”: “Was it luck, Divine intervention, or your past experience that allowed you to stop so quickly? One more second and you would be headed to a different doctor. My guess it was a combination of the three”

(The video in question is below)

I was already slowing down and I left foot brake (old habit from racing days) so it was just a matter or mashing the pedal a little harder when I sensed him coming over. I have good peripheral vision (Earnhardt use to say "I can see my ears" LOL) and raced back in the day before spotters.  A driver had to clear himself when passing so with a slight turn of the head you can "see" your relationship to the other car on either side.  I really wanted to get two lanes over to the right when we came up on the traffic stopping as that was the best "way out' but the truck was not slowing, I was and I could not have made it over without him hitting me.  Only option was to slow enough to NOT get hit in the rear from my lane and leave enough room between me and the stopped truck to provide a buffer or escape area should the pile up begin behind me. 

It seemed as though everybody was slowing EXCEPT the big truck.  What surprised me was him locking down the brakes.  When he did I could hear it and that's when I got aggressive on the brake and moved left to give him room. If he had gotten OFF the brake and let to truck roll a bit he could have very easily moved into my lane ahead of me and missed the white pickup in front of him and stopped prior to hitting the signal/sign DOT truck.  But, he turned while the brakes were locked down and that jackknifed him.  At that point he's just along for the ride. 

I've seem far worse crashes than this up close on the race track.  Been part of some, but that's with guys in cars with good roll cages, 5 point harness, wrap around seats and helmets. Even then it's pretty violent but the gear protects you.  I don't regard this as a particularly violent crash but without protective gear the damage can be 10 fold to a person.  When I pulled over and got to the big truck the driver was semiconscious.  He looked dazed and did not respond to anyone, just stared at us.  I didn't go to the little pickup that hit the trailer and suspect he got the worst end of the deal just because it looked like the frame rail of the trailer went into the drivers area at the windshield post.  There were several people already out and around so I just told the Highway patrol dispatcher via the phone the location and that there were several injured.   There was no danger of fire (no fuel leaking) plenty of help on the scene so I left at that point to make my doctor appointment. 

Luck, ... without question.  Divine intervention ... I'd like to think I'm a favored son.  Past experience. .... no doubt about it.  As a police officer I took defensive driving courses several times.  Driving race cars didn't hurt.  The biggest factor IMO is that with life experiences as a cop, pilot and part time racer maintaining situation awareness at all times trumps luck and can make Divine Intervention unnecessary. I know that this particular stretch of I-15 produces accidents just like this 15 times every 24 hours.  Hard to believe but those are the statistics.  87% of those occur in the northbound lane.  This happened at about 2 PM and around 6 AM the same morning there was a fatality a couple of exits up the road.  I can not remember driving this route without seeing some kind of traffic accident. Last week returning home from the same appointment at the VA I went through almost the exact same thing but that time it was a previous wreck and the Highway patrol partially blocking the left lane southbound.  I always prefer the far left lane because there's usually another entire lane to the left that's not used.  It's there so emergency vehicles can move during gridlock.  This way if it looks like I'm about to get hit from the rear I can jump into this lane and perhaps escape the wreck.  Well, this time that lane was occupied by the Police car, a truck pulling a trailer and a car that were involved in a prior accident.  I saw this from a half mile away and began to slow tapping the brake to alert the guy behind me.  He slowed and my lane was under control and alert.  The lane to my right (just like this accident) kept moving as though nothing was wrong.  In about 3-4 seconds I could see all 5 lanes slowing ahead and like the train effect it got more severe the closer we got to the scene.  About this time 4 cars in the lane to my right came by bumper to bumper with the noses almost dragging the ground due to heavy braking.  All 4 were locked up and squalling.  The first slid into the pack and the other three plowed into the whole mess.  It wasn't bad because they had all managed to slow quite a bit and their speed was relative to one another. However, I could see some parts flying and hear the collision.  All of them crunched the front and rear as I passed by.  None of them came out of their respective lane, just another fender bender, so another bullet dodged. 

Over the years I have witnessed plenty of accidents and near accidents as a result of a prior accident being “worked” by the Highway patrol on I-15 and other freeways around the city.  I have often thought about this phenomena and what might be possible solutions to no avail.  



Download YouTube Video

16 comments:

  1. Wow, that is fantastic footage! I've driven I-15 for years and can relate ro your experiences. I was happy to read that you did stop and called 911. I was in a wreck a few years ago and was surprised that no one stopped to see if I was ok, they just drove around me and kept going.
    I hope that you dont have any more of these close calls, but if you, I'll look for your blog. Regards, Emily

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Emily,

    I wanted to make sure there was no immediate life threatening situations that I could help with. Both vehicles took a good lick. I could tell that other than being dazed from the trauma they were likely okay and there were by that time several others who wanted to lend assistance. I just made sure the dispatcher knew where exactly it was and there were injuries. I made my appointment just barely; so for me it was just another bullet dodged.

    From Spring Mtn exit past Charleston northbound is really a crap shoot at certain times of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Luck, ... without question. Divine intervention ... I'd like to think I'm a favored son.”

    ~ ~ ~

    I think so too.

    I suspect you must have done many good deeds in your life, and this is a big deserving payback from above just for you.

    Onlooker

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for kind words Onlooker. you da man.

      Delete
  4. Dear Dan
    We where a couple of cars behind you. Would be interested if we show up a few seconds later on your video.
    Please reply Wanda & family

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What kind of car were you in color etc I'll look.

      Delete
    2. Grey Ford pick up,thanks
      Wanda

      Delete
    3. Grey Ford pickup truck, I also want to let you know how awesome of a driver I think you are.
      Thanks Wanda

      Delete
    4. Dear Dan,
      I have tried many times to reply, but it isn't taking. Grey Ford pickup truck. If you find it I would like to see it if possible.
      Thanks Wanda

      Delete
    5. I moderate all comments on the blog so it has to wait until I get the email notification and allow publication of comments. I do this to keep spammers, trolls and other idiots form cluttering up the site. sorry, sometimes it may take me a day to get the notifications and I am not an avid blogger so sometimes it takes a while for your post to show up. That's my fault nothing you did or computer problems.

      Thanks for your comments

      Delete
  5. Dan,
    Sorry this is the third time trying to reply. Grey pickup truck. I also have to say your driving is amazing and your statements too. What made you get a dash cam, for this exact reason?
    Thanks Wanda

    ReplyDelete
  6. There's a grey pick-up with a bed cap that passed behind a school bus and another grey pick up with a big tool box that stops behind the DOT truck. Also the truck that barley escapes to the right is a grey truck with a bed cap.

    The camera I use as a helmet cam on motorcycles. I just never used it in my truck before. As I left that day I thought I should take it because I've had some close calls on the 15 over the past few weeks and just wanted to document what went on there. Had no idea it would end like it did though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were the ones with the tool box. We were thinking we wanted to go help, but I was afraid of the traffic to get across all the lanes and back up enough safely. We then saw other people that were closer and already calling 911. It was very scary and really makes you think just how short life is. I am very impressed by your previous statements above I too try to stay back enough to stop and tap my brakes as well. It is comforting to know that there are some safe drivers still around. This was our first trip to Nevada and it will stay in our minds for a long time.
      Thanks Wanda

      Delete
  7. Yes I see your truck pull up and stop in the left lane behind the DOT truck as I was parked on the right. I'd have to clip and render all that video again which takes quite a bit of time in order for you to see it. There's really nothing to see other than your truck pull up and stop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, don't worry about it. I'm just glad everyone is safe now. That's all that really matters. Take care driving on 15!!!!!!
      Thanks again, Wanda

      Delete
  8. Hello,

    My name is Laurel and I work for Indigo Films. We are working on a show about truck spills and I am very interested in speaking with you about potentially licensing this video for our show.

    If you could please email me at ljohannes@indigofilms.com, I would love to explain more about this to you.

    Thank you for your time.

    Cheers, Laurel
    indigofilms.com

    ReplyDelete