Usually I get away without any consequences. But not always, because I live on a one-lane private road with blind curves and brushy driveways. Sometimes my heart ends up in my throat, as happened the other day.
|What could possibly go wrong?|
I did everything right. I was paying attention. My speed was moderate. My headlights were on for safety. I hit the brakes and went into a skid.
We both steered right onto the tiny shoulder and stopped in time. The other driver was hurrying back to work and felt terrible.
When the neighbors get together for road meetings, someone always asks, "Why does everyone drive so fast?"
There is no good answer.
Our gravel road is just a glorified driveway serving nine households. If anything keeps speeds in check, it's probably the bumps and potholes. The road seems quiet and it's easy to forget that a lot of other people are coming and going from the hidden houses all day long.
Just try going for a peaceful walk. You'll find out how much traffic we have on our sleepy, forgotten lane.
Private roads are common on Whidbey Island.
|The Public Works Department -- all volunteer.|
One elderly resident walked off the road and fell to the bottom of that ravine. It was terrifying. It took several people to lift her out of a blackberry thicket, and she was in shock, with many cuts.
She and her husband used to walk the road daily and I never quite figured out the schedule. I felt like scum whenever I came around a bend too fast and flustered her.
None of us expect to meet anyone when we fly up the road. I have to remind myself constantly to expect the unexpected, especially in unlikely places at unlikely times. Day or night. The truth is, I get surprised all the time and ought to be a lot smarter by now.
Here are some of my close calls:
- Speeding cars
- Geriatric dog lying in the road
- Teenagers on bicycles, on a curve - holy cow!
- Doe with fawns
- Contractor in a hurry
- Somebody filling holes with gravel
- Visitors unfamiliar with the road
- Owl eating road-kill
- Distracted dog standing in the road
- Old geezer out for a walk (ok, that's me)
- Group of teenagers walking
- The Fed Ex truck
- Someone trimming brush
- Elderly couple walking
- Dreamers deep in thought
- The propane truck
All I can say is this. If you drive a private road, plan to be surprised when you least expect it.
That is when it surely will happen.