To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I find it rather depressing that it takes an expensive, high-tech simulator to convey the point that looking at a phone instead of the road ahead is a dangerous way to drive (Eagle, Oct. 9) A no-brainer that has to be reinforced to that extent is cause for concern.
A couple of weekends ago my wife and I were returning home from Pittsfield. Just south of West Stockbridge, on Rte. 41, there was suddenly a large older Volvo station wagon right on my bumper. Tailgaters tend to cause steam to pour from my ears, but before I could get too bent out of shape the Volvo dropped way back. Just as I started to relax, the car was right back on my tail, but then it quickly fell back again. That pattern repeated yet again. Because it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the tree canopy was reflected on the windshield so I couldn’t see the driver. I decided it was either one of the world’s worst drivers, or someone who was seriously distracted.
By the time I reached my left turn at Main Street of Housatonic, the Volvo had fallen back to the point where I was no longer paying close attention. A northbound car was approaching, so I flipped on my turn signal and came to a stop as I waited for the oncoming car to pass. I glanced at my rearview mirror and there was the Volvo, barreling toward me at full speed. This time I could see the driver. It was a young guy, and he was holding his phone above the steering wheel, directly in front of his face.
I’ve avoided a few car crashes in my lifetime by taking evasive measures, but in this case I was a helpless sitting duck. As I braced for the impact, there was a sudden loud squealing of tires on asphalt and a gray blur on the passenger side as he somehow managed to slide by on the shoulder. He fishtailed back onto the pavement and came to a stop sideways on the road in front of us. His head whipped around and our eyes met. Then he took off.
During the two blocks it took to get home, my stomach got a little queasy as I realized just how close we’d come to being a statistic, a story in the next day’s Eagle. If that full-sized wagon had plowed into our stationary little Mazda, we’d have been seriously injured or possibly killed.
To this day I wonder what that kid was thinking when he looked back at us. Did he grasp the seriousness of the situation? Did he commit to changing his behavior? Or was he back texting a minute later, regaling his friends with a thrilling account of his near catastrophe?