It was too dark last Thursday night to see into the other car. I don’t know if the driver was a man or woman, a drunk driver or a sociopath. I think it was a man because of the extremely aggressive behavior. (I know women can be just as aggressive, but for some reason I just associate men with aggression, unfair as that assumption might be.)
Last Thursday was the first time ever that I felt the need to reach for my cell to call 911 for help, yet I was too afraid to let go of the steering wheel or to look away from the road and lose control of my car, so I just prayed.
The evening had been fun, a dinner with friends. We are a fairly congenial group that likes to linger after a meal, but we were all tired; we decided to call it an early night. Although it was still early enough to do a little Christmas shopping, I decided to go straight home. The road was not as busy as I had expected; either people were still packing the mall or had stayed home because of the distressing economic news.
I noticed the truck as soon as I entered New Circle Road, a usually busy, three-lane road. From a distance of about three hundred yards, I also noticed a car tailgating the truck and remember thinking how odd that was. With the road unusually empty, there had been ample opportunity to pass the truck, had he wanted.
My car’s speedometer told me I was comfortably within the legal speed limit yet, I was overtaking them rapidly; I moved immediately into the middle lane, knowing that I would pass both vehicles. As I approached both truck and passenger car, I noted they were traveling at about thirty-five miles per hour and I just assumed they were traveling together.
At about thirty feet from the vehicles, without warning the driver of the passenger car floored the gas pedal; his engine roared with the sudden acceleration and the car swerved into the middle lane, cutting me off. Luckily I have fast reflexes and managed to avoid a collision.
My initial response was a question: Why in Heaven’s name did he do that? This had to be a drunk driver; I slowed down to put more distance between the two of us. The other driver also slowed down. I heard a little voice in my head warning me. What is going on here?
As a test, I signaled that I was going to move into the left hand lane. Immediately, the other driver once again gunned his engine and anticipated my move. When he realized that I was still in the middle lane, he swerved back into my lane, preventing me from moving forward.
As we approached the next exit, the truck to my right got onto the exit ramp and in seconds this unpredictable driver and I were alone on this stretch of road. I started feeling anxious. There were still two exits to go before my exit. I did not want to get off the highway on the exit before mine, knowing that area was deserted at night. At least on this main road there was a chance that other traffic or a patrol car might come by.
Once again I tested the other driver by trying to move into another lane, each time I attempted the move he blocked me. I slowed down even move, thinking that a collision was about inevitable and I would have a better chance at a lower speed. Now, the other driver was pretending to try to hit my car or maybe, he was not pretending. That’s when I thought of reaching for my cell phone.
As I approached my exit I signaled a left turn and immediately turned right onto the exit ramp. Once there I floored the gas pedal; a quick check of the rear view mirror assured me I was not being followed. Shaken, I went home.
In the safety of my living room, I thought about this disturbing incident. In hindsight I came to several conclusions and resolutions:
1. I should have called the police immediately or as soon as I had realized what was happening. By doing nothing I had allowed that maniac to go find some one else to harass. Maybe, the next target would not be as lucky as I.
2. I will program my cell phone to dial the police with just one keystroke.
3. I will keep the phone in an easily accessible location instead of deep in my purse.
4. I should have memorized the other car’s license plate number. It was in plain view all the time, yet I was too flustered to do such a simple task. Heck, I could have taken a photograph of the rear end of the other car with my phone; we were uncomfortably close and my headlights illuminated its license plate, yet I did not even think of it.
Lastly, I hope this never happens again, but it does, I will be not as passive as I was in my own defense or, at least, I will gather enough evidence to help catch this individual and help make the roads safer for all of us.