I had an appointment in Rapid City with my glaucoma doctor last Wednesday. This usually means a 300-mile roundtrip for 15 minutes with the doctor, lunch, and maybe a little shopping. It is usually just my daughter and I, but this time my granddaughter was with us.
The report was fine from the doctor--just keep doing what I am doing.
Lunch was good.
None of us felt like shopping, so we just started the westward trip home.
A few miles west of Spearfish, it happened.
The Interstate is undergoing a lot of upkeep, and we were in a 45-mile-per-hour cone zone. The right lane of the westbound side was blocked off, leaving only one traffic lane. Slightly ahead of us was a cone-marked entry ramp for side-road traffic to merge onto the Interstate.
A red car was approaching through the merge lane. Since there was only one lane available, westbound traffic could not pull into another lane to admit incoming cars. This car slowed down and appeared to come almost to a stop. Suddenly, just as we were nearly at the merge spot, the car sped up again. We could not possibly stop in time. Anne Marie stomped on the gas, leaned on the horn, and tried to get away, but we were in the only open lane and there was no place else to go.
The red car drove right into us. There was a loud crash and a big jolt as our car was shoved to the left. Anne Marie kept a tight hold on the steering wheel and managed to get control on the side of the road. The impact point was the passenger side rear door. It all happened faster than the time it takes to tell.
We were shaken but uninjured.
When we got out of the car, we saw that the other driver was an elderly woman. While Anne Marie called Chad and Megan called 911, I went over to see if she was all right. She struggled out of her car and it became evident that she was suffering from physical difficulties. She had spinal problems that kept her bent over; she needed two poles to help her stand and walk (rather in the manner of ski poles); she had glasses, and seemed to be a little hard of hearing. She told me she had "paused" but didn't see anything coming before she pulled onto the highway.
I looked at her car to see what damage it had sustained. The driver's side parking light was completely gone--and she told me that it was not the result of this crash. It had happened another time.
We all felt terrible for this driver. She is 82 years old and lives alone on a ranch. She said something about going for groceries. We are still concerned about her.
BUT SHE SHOULD NOT BE DRIVING!
She could have killed us and herself. Thank goodness the traffic was slowed through that section. Actually, we did thank God sincerely that only the "skin" of the car was hurt. We were okay, she was okay, the car still worked and we could continue on our way home after the South Dakota Highway Patrol officers finished their investigation. (I learned that the Highway Patrol does not use the term "accident." It is "crash.")
And that, folks, is why I gave up driving when I developed eyesight and other health problems. Yes, it was very difficult to lose that independence. But I would rather accept some dependence than kill someone. I am blessed with a daughter who takes me where I need to go, and I know that not everyone has that. But, whatever it takes to accommodate your new lifestyle need, Please Stop Driving When It Becomes Apparent You Are Not Up To It.
Face the facts.