Holtz – Some of the lustre of driving now gone

Regular Gazette columnist Jim Holtz talks driving from the June 18, 2014 paper.

There is nothing like being in a car wreck to put things in perspective.

A sweet and timid little deer, a mule deer I believe, leaped out of a deep roadside ditch and tried to cross in front of my Subaru last Saturday about 10 kilometres south of Beaverdell. I know that the truckers and other driving professionals say that one should never swerve to avoid animals at highway speed, but the cute creature stopped just across the centre line, leading me to believe that I could avoid her if I deeked just a little to the right.

Alas, as the friendly constable assigned to the incident told me later, the shoulder along that stretch is made up of lots of sand and gravel, much of which gave way under my tires as they edged off the pavement. The rest is a bit of a blur, consisting of some spinning, a little flipping, and several bounces. The Subaru came to rest right side up 20 feet into the ditch on the other side of the highway, facing opposite my direction of travel.

The young couple that pulled off the highway after witnessing the final couple of pirouettes said that the car had flipped at least once. Nevertheless, I opened my door, climbed out and walked up the bank to the road, apparently unhurt. Except, the young couple noted, for the gash on the side of my head which was apparently coating that whole side of my body with blood.

A brief look at my reflection in the window of the back door of their Volvo as they packed me in for a ride to Kelowna General confirmed that I looked like a cross between one of the living dead and the main subject in a documentary film about elder abuse.

I had never been in an auto accident before, though I had been on the scene of two bad ones to offer assistance. I thought I could hang onto that pristine record with just a slight adjustment of the steering wheel. My mistake.

Cars seem so stable, travelling down the highway at 100 or more kilometres an hour, handling curves with ease, accelerating with quiet authority, braking with confidence inspiring quickness. In truth, despite all the safety features and care in construction to ensure that the occupants are protected, it really doesn’t take very much human error to send the whole package hurtling into the weeds.

I have always loved driving. Some of the lustre is, sadly, now gone because doubt about my judgement is beginning to seep in to my psyche. Well, perhaps that is a good thing.

Thanks to the constable who called to ask how I was doing and especially to Cameron and Corinne Farr who interrupted their happy shopping trip to Kelowna to offer me assistance. They even said they didn’t mind if I bled on the leather upholstery.

My sincere thanks.