Normally I'm a pretty decent driver. I'm known to be a bit lead-footed at times, but for the most part, I'm a pretty safe driver. I've only had two speeding tickets and one accident in my more than 20 years of driving (and the accident wasn't my fault. The other driver made an illegal left turn from a dead stop into my lane of traffic while I was going through a green light at 40 mph. Needless to say, the broadside collision totaled my car.)
In the last week or so, though, I've found myself zoning out as I drive or doing things that bring me within inches of accidents and mishaps. It happened again tonight out in Fairfax.
I needed to get gas in my car. The closest gas stations to my parent's home are in Fairfax Circle where there's a Sunoco, two Shells, and a Chevron. The Chevron always closes at 9:00 so that was out. The Sunoco isn't right on the circle and would mean I'd either have to go further down the road after filling up and flip a U-turn or drive "around the block" to get back to I-66 East. So, that left the two Shells. I chose the one on the southeast side of the circle as opposed to the one across from it on the southwest side.
To get to my Shell of choice, I should have been in the left lane of the traffic circle. Instead, I got in the right lane and when the light in the circle turned green, I proceeded to attempt to turn left. This resulted in a near collision with the driver of an Acura SUV who I cursed because I thought said driver-in-SUV was in the wrong lane. In fact, I was in the wrong lane entirely.
Unlike a lot of people who find traffic circles challenging, at best, and unnerving, at worst, I have no issues with traffic circles. But this, and several smaller incidents earlier this week left me pondering this evening where this spat of bad driving is coming from.
My therapist would say that given the last couple of weeks, it's not surprising my driving sucks. I'm obviously distracted by other thoughts and am not keeping my mind on the road or the traffic and drivers around me. This is worrisome to me. It's one thing to be distracted while you're doing the dishes or making dinner. It's another thing to be distracted while you're driving a motorized, 1/2 ton of steel, aluminum, plastic, and glass down the road at anywhere from 25 to 75 mph.
I think for the next few days, I'm going to walk everywhere and/or take the Metro. If nothing else, at least it will be safer for everyone else.
Photo courtesy of http://www.wfmu.org/MACrec/images/larc.jpg