My wife may have saved both of our lives this morning, and she definitely saved our new car from serious damage.
We were carpooling to work, and I was driving, because, well, I do the driving. Right after crossing Keystone Ave on 116th St. (my Indianapolis readers know where that is), I was looking out my window at the car next to me and only watching the road with my peripheral vision. I knew there weren’t any cars in front of me, so I just sort of relaxed and enjoyed my coffee.
Which exactly when my wife said “Ahab, deer-deer-DEER!” which was accompanied by a rather odd hand gesture. Now, a lot of people have said that “you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training”. I believe that, just from previous experiences in my life, and it was reinforced again today. When Mrs. Ahab said my name in that tone of voice, I knew something was wrong and pulled my head back to the road, by the time she had finished the third “deer” I was already braking, and checking my mirrors to avoid getting rear-ended and possibly move into the left lane.
I got down to about 20 mph and the big doe jumped back into the woods off the side of the road. The cars behind me weren’t close enough to pose a threat, which is good because the left lane wasn’t accessible to me.
The moral of the story is two-fold. One, keep your eyes on the road. It’s easy to get complacent when driving, especially if you drive the same route to work every day. That’s when accidents happen. We talk a lot about “staying aware” when we’re armed in public, it is just as important to stay away when you’re behind the wheel as it is when you’re behind the sights.
The second lesson is that since in a crisis situation you will default to your training, you had better make sure your training is good. The worst thing I could have done with the deer would have been punching the brakes into a hard panic stop.
Situational awareness is key, in any situation whether it’s driving to work or crossing the street. Like they say, you never see the one that gets you.