Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lots of car accidents

Yesterday was one of those days where I'm glad I drive a big pickup.  It's loaded down in the back so I get good traction.  I had a two hour drive to get from home to the work location in the woods.  It was sunny at home but when the school bus driver picked up the grandkids I was warned that if I was heading south to be careful.  I only had to head south for about 10 or 15 minutes before hitting the main road which would take me into the city then off into the mountains. 

It seems crazy to talk about the bad weather we had yesterday morning when you compare it to what the rest of the country is getting hit with.  While the rest of the country seems to be at a complete standstill (although from what the news shows people are out in their cars trying to go places), around here it's life as normal.  We had a low in the high 30s.  It's fog season and with the rain on Sunday, there was patchy fog in the morning.  As soon as I got about five minutes from the house it went from beautiful sunshine to solid fog bank.  You could see a couple hundred feet so it wasn't too bad.  The problem is the road I was on was a 55 mile an hour road with signals every three or four miles.  People figure they can see a little bit in front of them so they may as well drive full speed.  You really had to be careful because you couldn't see the signals and if you were coming up to a red light you'd better slow down several hundred yards prior to the intersection.  This means slamming on your brakes for most people.

I got near the first intersection one couldn't see the intersection so that meant the signal wasn't visible. I assumed it was a red light because no vehicles were moving.   I made sure there was plenty of space between me and the vehicle in front of me so that if someone rear ended me there would be space before I hit the vehicle ahead.  Fortunately, the vehicle behind me stopped as did those behind it.  It took two or three signal rotations to make it through the intersection.  As soon as I got up there I saw why.  There was a multi car accident.  A friend of mine was in control, red lights flashing (although you could barely see them), lighting flares along the roadway, and trying to get traffic moving.  I pulled into that lane and asked if she needed any help.  No, she was just waiting for the ambulance and tows to show up.  The injured person wasn't too injured so no immediate medical aid was needed.  Traffic was moving so no help was needed either.  Good.  I didn't really want to walk around on a highway in the fog anyway. 

I got through the city and only saw a couple more minor accidents.  Didn't have to stop for any of them!  The sun came out and it was beautiful once again.  I made it up to the mountains and then hit snow and ice covered roads.  One of my friends totaled their work truck a couple of weeks ago by hitting black ice and then a parked big-rig.  The worst part was the photos of his truck were sent to everyone at work to remind all to slow down when there's a possibility of black ice, or any ice for that matter.  So I slowed down, and muttered to myself I hope there's no snow on the ground when I get to where I'm going.

When I got to my destination not only was the ground nice and green from the new grass, but the sun was shining and the temperature was in  the low 50s. Couldn't have asked for a better day.  The deer were walking around completely ignoring us.  If only I was out hunting! 

The community I was in was small.  Maybe 25 properties, probably less.  They don't have electricity so everything runs on generator or solar.  There was one property for sale so I called the realtor to see how much.  21 acres, 2 bedroom, 1 bath house.  $210,000.  No thanks.  Too much money to be living next to drug dealers.  At least I'd know the community was well armed!  I've been to this area about five or six times and I've only seen one person outside.  That person was patrolling their property border.  That property was the one who shot at us the one time.  But that's it.  I've only seen one person outside in five trips to the area where I've spent about 30 hours walking around.  No children at all.  Rather peculiar. 

On the way home I came across another accident, this time in an area known for deadly accidents.  In fact, this was the same exact location as the first double fatal I worked solo at.  That was not a pleasant experience but one that taught me a lot.  Fortunately, this accident was a no injury no road blockage accident.  I didn't stay long. 

When I finally made it home I decided to inventory the emergency items in the truck.  I don't mean the personal items or even the medical bag.  I'm thinking road flares, a vest that reflects, a radio or cell phone to call in an accident, knowing where you are (can you get medical aid to you or someone else if you don't even know the name of the road or how far you are from a known point?), water to drink if it's really hot, enough gas in your tank in case you are stuck in traffic for hours, what about a tow rope so someone can pull you out of a ditch or off to the side of the road, and other items to keep yourself safe while helping others or yourself?

I had everything I just listed other than a reflective vest.  I got that ordered and will pick it up this morning.  I'm also going to pick up a few more flares.  In the case of the morning accident that my friend was at she had about six or seven flares going.  They were only on one side of the road because the other side had no blockage.  If the vehicles had crossed into the oncoming traffic she would have needed about a dozen or so.  I wouldn't have had enough if I was working that accident since I only had six on me.

I'm not saying to you have to stop and help at accidents but what if it was your accident.  Would you be able to keep yourself safe after the initial accident?   

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