It’s been a while since I wrote about the crazy drivers I encounter. I’ve been saving notes as I go, but I haven’t been in the mood to share any of those stories…until today. That’s because, in addition to two remarkably stupid drivers that I encountered recently, a third may have saved my life. OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole, but I’m pretty sure he saved me from an accident. Let’s start with the nutjobs who almost cost people their lives/cars/sanity and end with the wingnut who unwittingly helped me.
I-291 / RT-5 Interchange
My evening commute brings me north on Connecticut Route-5 as far as Interstate 291. I-291 offers one of five bridges via which I can cross the Connecticut River. It’s not the “fastest” route but it’s the route that offers the most reliably consistent driving time and the one that lets me keep moving. As indicated in the illustrations, I need to proceed under I-291 and take the on-ramp to the westbound lanes (to the left in the drawings).
Two weeks ago, I was stopped at the red light on the south side of I-291. I was in the second lane from the left, which is the left-most travel lane. The left lane at the intersection turns left onto the eastbound ramp to I-291. The green arrow lit up for that lane, and cars began to turn. The arrow turned yellow very quickly. One more car scooted through, and as the light was turning red, someone who remembers what a red light means, stopped beside me.
A guy coming up behind the guy who stopped, apparently was planning to run through the red light. He honked, swerved to the right – proceeded behind me into the right travel lane – drove into the intersection where he turned left in front of me and onto the ramp.
Mass Pike Madness
On my way home from Boston last week, I was driving in the right lane on the Mass Pike as I passed a rest-area. I saw two cars leaving the rest-area. There was a lot of traffic on the Pike, but there was no one behind me in the right lane. I saw an opportunity to merge into the center lane, to give these folks a chance to enter the highway. My merging opened up a long stretch of highway in the right lane. Despite the relatively obvious reason why I had merged, a guy several cars back in the center lane, merged right and blew by all of us. He forced one of the cars merging from the rest-area back onto the end of the ramp and actually onto the shoulder, as the ramp was ending.
On Friday, I was driving north on I-91 toward Hartford, planning to continue north on I-91. I say “planning” because this interchange is one of the worst in the nation, and it isn’t easy to do what you want. As you’re coming north, you have to change lanes a few times in order to stay in the northbound lanes. I was approaching the point where I needed to, as Greta my GPS would say, “be in either of the two right lanes.” I was in the third lane from the right. I had my eyes on a gap forming behind me in the next lane to the right. I had my signal on. I was ready to make my move when a jerk in the far-right lane decided to pass the guy in front of him and take my slot.
“It’s OK,” I thought. Although the signs don’t point it out, the lane I was in leads to an on-ramp to I-91 north about ¾ of mile farther up. As I was proceeding toward that ramp, my car died. Not sputtered. Not chugged. DIED. Everything off. No power steering, no power brakes, no lights, nothing! As I was rapidly losing speed, I did my best to get as far to the right as I could. There are no shoulders in the underpass in which I came to a stop. There’s also nowhere to walk. I was pretty sure I was going to get hit, but since there was very little traffic in this area, I survived without incident. My car eventually started, and I drove it to my mechanic. Had I managed to make that merge, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where I would not have caused a pretty big accident.
Since you’ve seen a bunch of illustrations, I’ll just add a few pictures from my walk with Maddie.