Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vehicular Mayhem Most Fowl

** If you are an animal lover and are particularly tender-hearted (like my dear wife), this is not the story for you. Please check back for a story more suitable to your sensibilities. You've been warned. **

The scene: Potter Marsh, a wet land adjacent to the Seward Highway, just south of where the highway goes from 4 lane divided highway to 2 lane rural highway. Goggle Earth "Potter Marsh, Anchorage, AK" if you want to see the layout.

The time: 1030am Saturday July 7, 2007 (7-7-7 to numbers freaks).

It was a nice clear morning that Saturday. Vehicle A (I don't remember if it was a car or a truck. It's Alaska so it's safe to picture it in your mind as an SUV) traveled along the Seward Highway by Potter Marsh when the driver saw a group of ducks crossing the road.

Ducks walking in a row is always cute. Mom and her children just flip-flopping their way from hither to yon. Or from yon to hither. It's hard it tell.

Driver A stopped his vehicle so the ducks could make safe passage. Stopped his vehicle in the middle of the road. Just so I'm perfectly clear, the road is a highway and the speed limit is 55 mph. Driver A was at this point going 0 mph. Which is great for the ducks. The ducks successfully got to the other side of the road.

Enter Driver B, presumably traveling 50-70mph. Driver B was driving an RV pulling a boat on a trailer. In terms of braking power, an RV with a boat trailer attached is a little like a train. Driver B was probably planning a weekend of fishing or camping. He was evidently not planning for a car to be stopped in the middle of the highway. Driver B did not take in the whole situation until he was too close to stop his vehicle in the traditional manner.

Faced with this situation Driver B has three choices. 1) He can swerve into oncoming traffic and thereby endanger himself and the cars in the other lane. There are plenty of fatality head-on collisions on the Seward Higway. 2) He can lay on the brakes and strike Driver A's vehicle, which could also cause a serious if not fatal accident (as well as potentially involve the other lane of traffic as well). Luckily he chose 3) brake like the dickens and hit the ditch to the right of Driver A.

Oh, and he plowed into the family of ducks, killing most of them.

Let's recap, shall we?

Guy stops for wee little duckies. Other guy doesn’t expect the first guy to stop (on a highway) and has to maneuver quickly. The safest path was through the original wee duckies.

It took a tow truck to get the RV and boat out of the ditch but what stuck me was the sheer amount of twisted irony along the side of that road.

Duck Photo:


Jas said...

As my former AAA driving instructor (and former officer, I believe...) Harry Buccilli preached to us in class:

"If the choice is leaving the road, for an unknown, versus the road, which is known, and an object in your path in the road, always keep control of the vehicle, even if it means hitting or killing someone or something. Once you leave the road, you lose all advantage and predictability, and in turn may lose your own life."

The person who stopped, although kind intentioned, shouldn't have, if they felt so badly, they should have pulled off the road completely.

Shame on them.

As for the motor home, tough call.

John Cowart said...

I can e-mail you a receipt for oyster stuffing if you need it.