Watch Out for the Other Guy!

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While driving, it's good to know your surroundings and watch out for "The Other Guy." The story I'm about to tell you is true, and I was there to witness it all. It's just another point to hammer home that everyone must watch out for "The Other Guy." 

It was a sunny, clear November afternoon. Traffic was light for a Friday as I traveled south on I-95 to Savannah, Ga., for a day of shopping. I-95 is a divided two-lane highway with speed limits that range from 55 to 70 mph. It's about a 170-mile trip for me, and I'd gone about 70 miles. 

Driving in the right lane, I had my cruise control set at the speed limit, and began to approach a group of slower vehicles in front of me. The one farthest from me was an 18-wheeler. Trailing it was a worn-looking pickup, towing a worn-looking trailer with what appeared to be household goods piled high and secured with a rope. I was approaching the duo rather quickly. I was cruising at the posted limit of 70, while the group was traveling much slower. Realizing I was going to overtake them very soon, I signaled to enter the left lane and pass. This is where watching "The Other Guy" came into play and saved my day. 

As soon as I turned on my signal, I watched the pickup. As I began to move slowly into the left lane, that beat-up little rig jolted into the left lane to pass the truck. Since I had my eye on him the whole time, I wasn't surprised. Although it had cut me off, I simply slowed down as I switched lanes, following him at a much slower speed and a safe distance. 

His move was so quick, I'm not sure if the driver even checked to see if the left lane was clear. Had I continued at my original speed of 70 mph, he would have merged into me, for sure. After the rusty rig passed the 18-wheeler, he eased back into the right lane, never signaling once. Judging by the condition of his truck, I'm not even sure if his turn signals worked! Shaking my head as I always do when I see bad driving, I accelerated back to the speed limit, set my cruise control, and began to pull up alongside the truck. 

The trailer seemed in poor condition. Very rusted, no brake lights, and the household goods were wrapped with flimsy-looking rope. Not something you wanted to be driving behind! The pickup truck had a camper shell on the back, loaded with all sorts of items. Someone was moving, no doubt. I pulled up even with the driver's window, and looked over to see an elderly man staring straight ahead, both hands firmly on the wheel. In the passenger seat was an equally elderly female. I continued and began to pull away, thanking my lucky stars I'd used caution when approaching what could have been a disaster.
Story's over, right? Wrong. I'm in the left lane, pulling away from the "rusty rig," as I now refer to it. The "rusty rig" was in the right lane, tooling down the road. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a purple car, approaching at high speed, in the left lane. For some reason, I kept watch on the purple car as it approached me. That was when it happened. As soon as the purple car was right next to the "rusty rig," which was still traveling in the right lane, the driver of the "rusty rig" decided he wanted to go into the left lane. The whole rig jerked into the left lane. I gasped. Then the whole rig jerked back to the right lane. The driver must have realized the purple car was within two feet of his vehicle, and corrected. Most likely, he never looked over his shoulder or checked his mirrors before making the lane change, AGAIN.
The driver of the purple car, seeing the "rusty rig" coming into her lane as she was passing alongside, jerked the wheel hard left to avoid the collision. Doing this while traveling more than 70 mph is not good. I saw everything from my mirror. Her car spun 360 degrees twice, slid off into the grassy median, then slid backward into the guard cable that separates the two directions of traffic. I saw a huge debris cloud of car parts, dirt and smoke, and then the vehicle came to a rest, backward, and tangled in the cable. Now comes the unbelievable part of the story.
I immediately dialed 911 and relayed the accident information and location. As I was dialing, the "rusty rig" was catching up to me. The driver didn't stop, or even slow down! I pulled alongside him, pointing back to the accident. At first, he wouldn't look over. After I honked and got his attention, I rolled down my window and let him know he'd just caused an accident. He wouldn't roll his window down, and we continued down the road, side by side. I made eye contact one last time, and he made a hand gesture telling me to leave him alone. I was shocked, to say the least. This guy just caused an accident, and either didn't care or didn't realize it, or both. Either which way, it was bad. I slowed down and got a good description and the tag numbers from the trailer and the front and back of the truck. Each was from a different state. 

I took the next exit and doubled back. The "rusty rig" continued down the interstate. As I approached the scene, the Highway Patrol was already there, along with the driver of the 18-wheeler. The driver of the purple car was still in her car, talking on her cell phone, and appeared to be fine. She still had her seat belt on. The truck driver was relaying information to the officer, and I could hear him telling the same story I just told you here. He also described how the "rusty rig" almost did the same thing to me! I gave my information to the officer and left as the EMS crew was arriving. 

To sum it all up, keep a close eye on your surroundings--you never know when you'll have to make an emergency lane change to get out of the way--and keep a sharp eye on "The Other Guy." He's out on the road, ready to cause an accident, every time you get into your vehicle.