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July 2015, #4: Havoc on the Highways

1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, more trenchant commentary on the driving skills and habits of folks we are forced to share the roads with.


A. Forty minutes before midnight, an E-4 was hustling back to work from his house, intent on making a 1200 muster. He approached an intersection at an interstate off-ramp. The traffic light was red, so he started to brake. “He assumed it would change to green so he only slowed slightly,” the report said.

     He was right (he told the mishap reporter). The light did turn green, enabling him to promptly enter the intersection. Alas, his promptness put him in the crosshairs of another driver, who was zipping across the intersection trying to beat a yellow (if not actually running a red), a trajectory that enabled him to crash into the passenger side of the E-4’s Mazda.

     When the cops arrived, they weighed in on the status of the traffic-control device by bestowing a ticket on the Sailor for running a red light.

     He got his car towed back to his house. Then he had his wife drive him to an emergency room, where doctors diagnosed a head injury and cervicalgia (“pain in the neck”), which seems appropriate for everyone (him, his wife, the other driver, the guys expecting him at muster, his insurance agent) concerned.


B. I always thought the phrase was “Now you see ‘em, now you don’t.” In Friday Funnies land, it seems to be “Now you don’t see ‘em, now you do.”

     To wit, a sergeant was approaching a highway toll booth in the far left lane. When he noticed it was closed, he worked his way to the right. His routine seemed fine: signal turn, check rearview mirror and blind spot, move one lane. His first two lane changes went as planned. On the third and final lane change, however, as he was going 25 mph, another driver going 40 mph plowed into the passenger side of the sergeant’s car.

     Under “Preconditions,” the mishap report listed “Not paying attention,” but it didn’t specify the sergeant or the other guy as the culprit.


C. Speaking of vehicles that suddenly appear, a driver of a government vehicle was heading northbound in heavy traffic, planning to turn left on a highway on-ramp. Behind, a civilian driver was trying to turn left from the turn lane into a parking lot.

     The report said that the drivers didn’t see each other “due to the high traffic density.” The civilian driver started his turn, at which point Uncle Sam’s vehicle suddenly appeared.

     With no time to brake, the civilian demolished the front end of the government vehicle, leaving it with its airbags deployed and bodily fluids leaking out on the highway.

     Sorry, I’m not buying the “due to the high density of traffic” statement. Might have been a factor, but that’s about it.


D. In Europe, a chief strolled over to a bar on base and spent several hours quaffing beers and downing shots. He got hungry as he walked back to his room and, unable to quit while he was ahead, got in his rental car to get something to eat. Later, he remembered completing this errand, which is commendable (wait, that can’t be the right word) given that his BAC was at least 0.13. The police had to fill in the blanks for him: driving through a construction site, crashing into a Caterpillar tractor, ending up in a hospital, and making the car rental company extremely unhappy when they saw what was left of their 2014 Audi.


2. That’s all for this time. Until we meet again, allow me to share my philosophy on approaching an intersection. I always assume that some self-involved, distracted driver is going to do something stupid. commentary.

Last week's issue: "Why  We Love Email, Cont."
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