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Safety Nugget Week of November 2 - Near Miss With A Distracted Driver< Back to Blog

Nov 09, 2015
By: K. McCarley
Categories: Safety

I was driving to the airport early in the morning a few weeks ago, when I saw a car pull up to the intersection less than a quarter mile ahead.  I could see the driver holding a cell phone in front of his face as I got closer and assumed he was going to wait at the intersection until I passed. I was probably less than 100 feet away when the driver pulled out in front of me, still holding the cell phone up in front of his face. The driver stopped close to the centerline, so I was able to break hard and swerve around him. I can still remember seeing the scared look on the driver's face as I went around the car.  

In retrospect, there was nothing I could do to prevent the other driver from pulling out in front of me.  He was totally unaware that I was approaching and it happened too quickly. Fortunately, the driver had caught my eye and I was watching because I could see that he was looking at his cell phone.

This reminded me about a defensive driving course I took that taught situational awareness.  The class used computer simulations to show the importance of situational awareness in various scenarios, such as:

  • Being aware of the traffic around me; checking mirrors, be aware of blind spots and seeing several car lengths ahead to avoid accidents before they happen.  
  • Expecting drivers to do the unexpected, especially near intersections.
  • Driving to fit the road conditions; snow, rain, narrow roads without a shoulder, visibility problems due to precipitation, fog, low light or sun low on the horizon.

These are just a few examples, but ultimately this near miss reminded me to be more aware of the drivers and environment around me.