What If?

I’m writing to thank you, Chuck, and the whole TDSS team for the hard work that you guys put in to making teens, and as you’ll read, parents safer when they’re on the road.

As crazy as the timing is, it’s true: On Thursday, October 19th I organized 40 friends to drive the full course at VIR. We had people from all over the East Coast and even two that flew over from England, just to have a private track day. I’ve never done that before, but it worked out wonderfully – we didn’t have a single car get damaged, the weather was great, and a whole new crop of people were exposed to the fun of motorsports.

Just a couple days later, on Monday, October 23rd at around 8 AM, I was driving on 29 North to Charlottesville, headed for the University of Virginia. I was in the interior lane, next to the median. About 5 miles south of Charlottesville, at Redhill Road, I looked at my 10 o’clock and I saw a pickup truck crossing the southbound lanes pretty quickly – and here is where all of your training and classes paid off – I literally thought to myself, “What would I do if that guy kept going… where would I go?”

And then, the classroom discussions about how cars transfer weight came to mind and I saw his truck “sit down”, instead of pitch forward. “Holy cow!” I thought, “… this guy is going for it, he’s going across all four lanes of 29 without stopping in the median!” I was now close enough to see his face and it was obvious he didn’t even see my car. He just barreled on, into my lane, accelerating. At this point, the “what if?” game paid off. I tapped the brakes, but did not stick them, and I moved the steering wheel just enough to switch lanes …but not so much as to slide into the ditch lined with trees.

He hit me full speed – I was going about 60, and he was going about 50, but that fraction of a second, and the resulting lane change, saved me from being hurt much more than I was. The full impact of his truck hit on the driver’s B pillar; in fact much of it, maybe 70%, was behind the B pillar. Had I stayed in the inside lane, and not played the “what if?” game, his pickup truck would’ve hit me square on the driver’s door. Would I have died? Probably not – the car did a great job of protecting me – but when they cut me out of the car and I was conscious, had no broken bones, and there was no blood… it was clear that the “what if?” game and the move to the other lane prevented me from being more significantly injured.

Today was my last physical therapy appointment. I missed over three months of work, but I’m getting better every week. In the end, it was just muscular damage from the impact. But in the February/March timeframe, when I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t sleep, and I spent hours a day in PT …. it looked like I might not ever get better, and it was pretty discouraging

Anyway, I just wanted to send you the story and these pictures. I give you full freedom to use it in future classes if you think it would be of benefit to anyone. Suffice it to say, I’m grateful I took both of my kids to Teen Driving Solutions and I want you to know how much I appreciate what you do.

Sincerely,
John Ankeney