I’m driving along on the 405 South as I do nearly every day of my life. I can see traffic slowing down ahead. I’m in the fast lane going along at a good clip. The car in front of me is setting the pace. Thankfully, I’m keeping a safe distance between us. Suddenly he changes lanes, not slowing down first. If anything, he’s accelerating at a faster pace. He also doesn’t signal and zips along oblivious to anyone else on the road. Meanwhile, the lane I remain in is at a dead stop right in front of him. Has this ever happened to you? There was a great car chase scene exhibiting this in Against All Odds. Not a great movie, great chase scene though. One of the best. I’m sure you can find it on YouTube. Leave this to the movies. Don’t let life imitate art.
It seems someone is trying to invoke the red light shuffle in a dangerous way! There’s no red light. Maybe a white light cause you’re headed for a collision of significant proportions if you didn’t keep a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you. There’s no gentle shift. This just is not good, but it seems to be a common occurrence in Los Angeles.
I was okay. Thankfully, I had enough space. I was able to stop without issue, but the car behind me was not as well positioned. I saw this Mercedes in my rear view mirror slamming on his brakes behind me, swerving to the left and right hoping to make a lane change but couldn’t while I watched him in my rear view mirror. I prayed he would be able to stop and I’m not a praying person. Thankfully, the driving Gods were on my side. He was able to stop without hitting me. I started patting my chest as if I was trying to regulate the beat and return it to a normal pace. Deep breaths. I looked at him in the rear view mirror and I’m sure he was doing a Hail Mary himself. He also put his hand to his chest. I’m grateful he had a later model Mercedes thereby having antilock brakes. I’ve been hit before by a car that did not and it wasn’t pretty.
Here’s the thing. There needs to be a protocol, rules of driving etiquette if you will. You have a responsibility to yourself and every other driver. When you drive irresponsibly, you might be lucky yourself, but you’re putting everyone else in danger. I’ve experienced this. I went through 2 miserable years of pain, surgery and rehab for an accident that was caused by a guy texting (another very dangerous issue). He lost control of his car because he took his eyes off the road for a split second. Actually, according to a witness (oddly an ambulance driver), it was caused by a reckless driver in a van who cut off a driver and started a chain of events that lead to a 3 car crash. The van drove on unscathed and possibly oblivious to whole thing. Interestingly, both incidents happened in exactly the same place — the 405 heading south near Santa Monica Blvd. a frequent spot for collisions. Traffic tends to slow down here.
I hate to have a somber moment in here, but this was a reminder, a daily reminder for those of us who hit the road each day for our commute. Please be safe. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. You might think you have plenty of time to stop, but maybe the car behind you does not. It’s called Paying It Forward.
Have a great weekend.