08 February 2010

Boom boom out go the lights

I'm not a particularly speedy driver. I'd rather have a decent amount of following distance than get somewhere 15 seconds faster.

I KNOW. I have been ready for old age since I was 12.

When I'm getting on the freeway, though, I feel it is imperative to enter the roadway at freeway speed. I've never been able to figure out people who toodle down the onramp at 30 mph, with that casual "no particular place to go" insouciance.

I wonder if they see me back there, screaming "WILL YOU SPEED UP, YOU MORON? DON'T YOU KNOW WE ARE GOING TO BE CRUSHED BY A SEMI?"?

So it was with some level of irritation that I tried to get on Highway 126 last night. The little red truck with the oxidized paint job in front of me was going about 40 miles an hour on the onramp and showing no signs of speeding up.

As soon as we hit the highway, I checked for traffic, speeded up and tried to go around the red truck by entering the fast lane.

BABOOM BABOOM.

I just saw the black maw for a split second, but I felt the aftermath. I had, in short order, entered and exited a pothole the size of a tract-home swimming pool.

Ok, maybe not that big. But big. Really big.

I felt and heard my driver's side front tire flopping loosely, so I cautiously pulled over to the shoulder of the road, which was about a foot wider than my car.

I breathed a bit and listened to Goldie panting in the back, then called AAA for roadside service as traffic flew by, the wind rocking my car back and forth.

AAA estimated that a truck would be there in 45 minutes or sooner.

"Um, can it be sooner, please?" I pleaded, thinking of all the news stories I had read about motorists being struck while waiting in disabled cars on the side of the freeway.

It was dark. Traffic flew by. We used the time to tidy up the interior of the car and to try to keep from complete and utter panic.

God bless those AAA guys. Mario turned on his big flashing lights and put out reflective triangles and used a tiny flashlight to wave the zooming traffic into the far lane while Tony risked his life by changing my tire.

Mario said people never slow down. They have seen lots of people get hit. They did not take the situation lightly at all.

Soon I was on my way, the pathetic donut tire taking the place of my shredded tire. I got off the freeway and crept along city streets, feeling my car's terrible handling with that donut tire on.

This morning I went outside and found out why the car was so miserable to drive. The left rear tire had popped, too. I felt like a total ass.

I had driven 5 miles with a flat rear tire, thinking all the while that the donut was the problem. I figured I had bent the crap out of my rim. Yay. More money down the drain.

I called AAA again. Flatbed truck. Biker dude driver who wants to retire to the Yukon. Good luck with that. He told me stories about getting hit, too. About people who didn't even stop after hitting him.

The tire store guys gave me 2 new tires for free because I had tire insurance. So far the rims are ok. If they aren't, maybe I'll get me some of these bad boys.

So people, my people. Be kind. Slow down when you see a tow truck. Those are real people out there.

11 comments:

Karen Sugarpants said...

They made a law here that if you can do so safely, you have to move over if you see a police car on the shoulder. It should be mandatory to move over if anyone is on the shoulder, I think. There aren't that many, and I bet there would be way less accidents.
A couple of years ago, in a big snowstorm, a mother with her two kids in the car, pulled over under an overpass to fix her malfunctioning windshield wiper. A truck hit her car from behind and her children watched her be crushed to death. It was heartbreaking and so very unnecessary.

lagata said...

We have a law here to move over and slow down for sure if there is a police car on the shoulder. I usually do if I see anyone on the shoulder - but I don't think that is included in the law - it should be... there have been too many people (including police) getting hit while trying to provide assistance on the side of the highway.

Kris said...

Wise words of advice. I work for a DOT and can't tell you how many times people have just about skimmed me while I'm on the road shoulder. Even when I was standing there, nine months pregnant, no one moved over. It is just good sense, for everyone, to slow down and move over to the left as far as you can when passing someone stopped on the shoulder.

Kris said...

Wise words of advice. I work for a DOT and can't tell you how many times people have just about skimmed me while I'm on the road shoulder. Even when I was standing there, nine months pregnant, no one moved over. It is just good sense, for everyone, to slow down and move over to the left as far as you can when passing someone stopped on the shoulder.

super des said...

A few years back, I was in a car accident, hitting the center railing. My friend's (now) husband was driving, me and my friend were passengers. It was nighttime, driving on a cuvy highway between Santa Cruz and the Bay Area.
As soon as the car was stopped, I grabbed my friend and we ran across our side of the highway and jumped behind the concrete barrier. (No offense to her man, but I had only known him a few hours and he had caused all this so I didn't really care about him.)
Luckily a tow truck drove by a few minutes later, and the driver said we were smart for "hiding."

Suzanne said...

I am glad that you are OK. For a second, I thought the noise was from a collision.

lizgwiz said...

If you can safely get out of the car and get some distance away, you should. The last time I had car trouble on the highway, I got out and climbed up an embankment and sat on the ground. I could watch for the tow truck, and I was safely away from the whizzing traffic. I felt a little silly, until tow truck drivers told me I was very smart.

Jessica said...

Yes, I am glad you are ok!

And I am glad that AAA came to your rescue in a timely manner. There is nothing worse than sitting there, hoping that you aren't run into or approached by Mr Creep Guy.

I am always amazed at how fast and how close people speed by when there are people on the shoulder. We had a flat on the highway just a few months ago, and even though I was WAY over, in the grass as far as possible, I swear that some people buzzed by close on purpose. WTF?

And I really think you should get those rims.

Parsla said...

You really don't want those rims. Take it from a former automotive tire engineer. Tires with short sidewalls like that have a very harsh ride, and are much more likely to blow out, because there's not enough rubber to absorb impact.

SUEB0B said...

Parsla - I just picked the loco-ist rims I could find. I actually want spinners. No...just joking. I am far too practical and mom-like.

g said...

Scarey, scarey!! I had a breakdown a couple weeks ago, during our last rains, on the 101 freeway. I was really really gratified by the AAA guys and also by the CHP and freeway patrol guys who regularly check out stranded cars on the freeway shoulders. hooray for those guys.

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