Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hit and Near Misses

Our trip to the city this week was one of the craziest we have had in a long time in terms of traffic/driving events.  I was thinking about it just now and feel the need to debrief.

On our clear, warm, wonderful drive out across the prairies we were able to make good speed.  I live in constant alertness for deer and antelope that sometimes leap out from beside the road....out of the ditches and fields...landing immediately in front of oncoming traffic and causing all manner of vehicular mayhem, damage, death, injury and what have you.  The antelope seem far more road smart than deer who will jump about in the middle of the road so readily.  We did pass a large herd of deer a couple of hours into our trip so I was primed to be even more alert than usual.

Unfortunately all my preparation and wide eyed scanning of the landscape around me did not prevent me from one vehicle/wildlife tragedy.  As we drove along I saw what appeared to be a small puddle in the middle of my lane....not particularly unusual with the melting snow along the sides of the road.  Unfortunately this particular puddle turned out to be a good sized partridge.  Partridges count on their ability to use camouflage for protection from predators, flying off only if the predator comes very close to their location. Sadly, for this dear birdie, it worked too well.  I was nearly on top of the partridge when it flew straight up and the wind currents blew it directly into my windshield with a mighty thump.  The impact was so great that the bird, I am certain, died upon impact.  Its body winged off behind the car and into series of snowbanks in a field 50 feet or more away. By the time I was able to come to a complete stop by standing nearly upright on my brakes we could no longer see where it had landed.  I can only pray it did die instantly.  I cried because I felt so badly. I hate the thought of killing anything.  My car windshield will have to be replaced as soon as the local glass shop can order one in for my car's make and model as it is now covered with a series of cracks as long and as high as the windshield stretches.  Hopefully it will hold together long enough to get us to Regina and back this weekend for the new Bishop's installation services before it shatters. 

Then Calgary was riddled with near misses for us, probably for the first time in all our years there and all our subsequent visits of late.  We managed to avoid 2 minor fender benders involving other cars on a main thoroughfare we travel on several times each trip as it runs directly between the house of my parents and my husband's fender bender per day of our travels on that road.  I can barely stand watching accidents of any kind happen and even though these would be considered minor with only a few broken head and tail lights, a bashed in trunk or hood and no serious injuries, it was still upsetting.

The morning we left for home was the worst.  We were stopped at a controlled intersection and as our light to proceed turned green we were about to roar off when suddenly a young man appeared only inches from the front of our car as he dashed across in front of us, against the light, in an attempt to catch a transit bus he was late getting to.  That shook us up a bit, but not as badly as the next intersection where we arrived at a 4 Way Stop.  The stop has been there for several decades and we were the only ones there when we pulled to a stop.  We began to pull forward since no one else had arrived at the signs, when my husband noticed out of the corner of his eye, an incoming car on our right hand side.  As quickly as he saw it he also realized it was not slowing down sufficiently to stop at the stop sign.  My husband hit the brakes "just in case" and it is a good thing he did.  Not only did the driver not stop at his stop sign, he didn't even slow down.  He roared across our path and veered left in front of us, glaring at us as if we were endangering him by being on the road at all. As we sat there shaking once again, he turned into the entrance of a college down the street.  If he is a student there then this is not the first time he has been at that intersection and must know full well it is a stop sign for him.  We were unable to obtain his license plate number in order to report him, but we were very glad to head for home.  

Then of course, as previously reported, we witnessed the semi hitting the ditch closer to home.  Tomorrow on our way to Regina we will both be on high alert.  We are getting tired of all the careless driving that seems to be taking over our part of the world.  On narrow 2 lane highways with no appreciable shoulders it is terrifying to be surrounded by large trucks, a high number of intoxicated drivers (SK has hit the top of the list for number of drunks on the road in Canada), so many cars passing slower moving vehicles when it is unsafe to do so and too many people who did not grow up on the prairies, subsequently having no idea of how quickly and easily terrible accidents can happen on winter highways.

Once we get back from Regina I sort of hope our travels, even of the quasi-local variety, are over and done with for awhile!  My tummy can't take it.

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