Dangerous Roads Ahead

Situational Awareness Will Help You Recognize Danger

Recognizing what’s happening around you is the best way to ensure your Situational Awareness. However, there are some situations where your attention needs to be placed in a specific location, such as driving to work. So how can you be aware of danger when you can’t get a full view of your environment?

Route 523 is a two-hundred-mile stretch of open highway that cuts through the center of the state, and it’s the most direct road for Samuel Ackerman to get to the office. Usually the traffic in the morning is stop and go. Samuel would often make the most of the time stuck in the car by listening to his favorite podcasts, which occupied his mind and helped him cope.

There’s A Road Rager On The Highway

One particular morning, about halfway through his commute, Samuel was able to get his car up to 40 mph. As he listened to Frankie and Freddie listing off tips to avoid procrastination, Samuel glanced in his rearview mirror and spotted a gray car about a quarter-mile behind him. The car caught his attention by the way it kept switching lanes. 

The gray car weaved in front of a silver BMW, its rear fender missing the Beemer by mere inches. It then sped up to get in front of a red SUV and pulled the same maneuver. 

With a shake of his head, Samuel shifted his attention back to the road in front of him, slowing down as the traffic came to a stand-still. Samuel drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and stared at the red brake lights in front of him. 

A few seconds passed before a car horn blares from behind Samuel. He checks his rearview mirror again, spotting the gray car behind a Lexus. The horn continues to scream as the gray car’s headlights flash on and off. Samuel cranes his neck to look behind him, and he can see the driver of the Lexus looking anxious. The driver turns on their blinker and angles the car into the center lane, giving the gray car room to pass.

What Do You Do When Trouble Finds You?

The Lexus merges Traffic begins to let up, and the cars move like a raging river broken free of the dam. Samuel speeds up to thirty, forty, almost fifty miles an hour. He glances in his rearview mirror and sees the gray car catching up to him. Samuel slaps his turn signal indicator and checks his right side. Seeing an opening, he eases his car into the far right lane. The gray car breezes past him, allowing Samuel to see the scruffy-haired driver behind the wheel. 

“At least I’m away from that idiot,” Samuel mutters to himself. He eases the accelerator a little more while the gray car darts into the left lane to pass a tractor-trailer.

The traffic continued at a decent clip for the next few miles, allowing Samuel to forget about the incident with the gray car. The highway comes to a bend, and as Samuel follows the roadway, he sees two cars pulled over into the shoulder. A driver climbs out of a blue Honda and inspects his broken headlight. In front of the Honda is the gray car, with a broken taillight and scrape along the back fender. The driver of the gray car launches himself from his seat and approaches the other driver. His hands are waving frantically and he’s shouting, his words inaudible over Samuel’s radio. The driver of the Honda backs off, his hands in front of himself, trying to calm the other driver down, but it’s no use. The driver of the gray car pulls his fist back and swings across at the man’s jaw.

Samuel kept up with the flow of traffic, taking himself away from the incident. “That could have been me,” he said to himself. “If I hadn’t moved out of the way and that car hit me…”

Samuel and the gray car may not be real, but this situation occurs on most major highways every day. It’s impossible to predict how other people will react, but recognizing erratic behavior in others is key to Situational Awareness. Samuel spotted the warning signs in the driver of the gray car and removed himself from danger. If he hadn’t, he could have easily been the one to have a heated confrontation on the side of the road. Following the steps in our S.A.F.E. course will allow you to recognize these warning signs so that you too can avoid similar situations.

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