Stock Semi

It’s been a little over two weeks now that I should be dead.

Returning home late one night from Conyers on I-20, I’d just pulled into the left of two exit lanes feeding onto I-285. To my right was my wife. To her right was an 18-wheeler.

As we rounded the curve, probably traveling at around 50 mph, the truck suddenly crossed into my lane. I had already noticed the lane to my left was packed with speeding vehicles, so all I could do was brake and creep as far to the left as I dared. Things happened too quickly for me to reason that getting rear-ended by a speeding car would have probably been better than getting mashed underneath a semi.

Anyway, somehow, miraculously, the front edge of the trailer swept past within inches.


Then, something terrifying happened.

I saw the back end of the trailer coming alongside, tilting onto its left bank of wheels and swerving even farther into our lane.

I had already calculated how close we came to being smashed by the front end. This time, no need to calculate. It was a certainty.

All we could do is sit and watch the giant wheels churning closer.

Somehow, nothing happened. Not a scratch.

Keep in mind, this was not a close call — not from my perspective. You can’t drive around Atlanta and not experience a close call. They are almost routine. They happen. You tell your friends about it, then forget it.

This was different.

All visual signs indicated I was witnessing the end.

This was not a close call. This was inevitability carried out to the 20th decimal point.

I won’t go into the ethereal variables for our escape — a guardian angel, freak wind shear, interdimensional shift.

Maybe it was destiny, issuing a ruling that I should write a column about the experience. 

And, maybe a reader will be moved by it – moved enough to drive a little more carefully, a little less aggressively. You see, I was completely within my right to be in my lane merging onto I-285. Why should I yield way to a semi which was going to run out of pavement soon? Well, I found out why.

Maybe an official with the Georgia Department of Transportation or the Federal Highway Safety Administration will read this column and consider action to eliminate two-lane merges that narrow to one lane on high-speed roadways.


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