A head-on accident reminds me of safety and being prepared.
Traveling home from the recent International LCT Show in Las Vegas, I unwittingly became part of a rescue team of firefighters, paramedics and fellow motorists who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or perhaps it was being in the right place at the right time. As far as timing, my wife, Hillary and I stopped in Barstow to fuel and grab a quick bite to eat. This stop would set the clock in motion for what would happen next.
Hillary took the wheel as we left Barstow to get on the dusty Highway 58 running through the middle of the desert with miles and miles between communities on an old highway that has one single lane of travel in each direction. About 10 miles out of Barstow, in the middle of nowhere, traffic came to a halt. We took our place behind a big rig and shut off the engine and the lights as everyone behind us did. I searched the highway patrol website and found nothing that was working in our area. There were no cars coming from the opposite direction either.
Soon, a small pickup truck with flashing red lights passed us going the wrong direction of travel. As it stopped ahead, I could see the red lights swirling in the desert not too far from our car. I decided to walk to the fire truck and determine if we should turn around and go a different route or wait it out. I decided to take my flashlight with me because it was so dark that people walking on the highway were barely visible except for their lit cigarettes in the darkness of night.
As I arrived at the scene, I saw that a big rig had slammed head on into a compact car about 20 big rigs ahead of us. The two firemen were working to get inside the demolished car. Armed only with flashlights mounted to their helmets and their headlights, they asked if anyone had a flashlight that could help them. I ended up staying by their side and talking to an elderly man as he was extricated from the crumpled car.
I learned that a third car traveling east had sideswiped the westbound big rig. The big rig drifted off to the right shoulder and then overcorrected, crossing the centerline and struck the oncoming car with the elderly man driving.
This was another incident that underscored for me to always carry a flashlight and to always expect the unexpected when driving. As for the third car, he drove off and everyone was so busy looking at the crash that no one got a description of the car.
I'm an eager student of all things safety, and work to establish solid standards in my limousine business. So this was just one more reminder, to never forget the lessons, always stay vigilant, and stick with the LCT Shows on getting the latest info on safe practices.
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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