The fatal crash Tuesday on Central Avenue at Herr Road in Sylvania Township is far from the first time I’ve heard of motorists being hit from behind and pushed into oncoming traffic. I vividly remember the first, on Connecticut Route 66 just east of Portland, Conn., more than 20 years ago when I was a cub reporter with a newspaper in a nearby city.
I don’t recall anyone getting killed that time, but the driver who got pushed was seriously injured. And that has been the usual minimum outcome any time I have covered or heard of such a crash since then, because such crashes are usually close to head-on.
Such crashes vividly illustrate the lesson from a driving instructor who told my driver’s ed class in high school that when waiting to make a left turn, keep your steering wheel straight until you’re ready to go. That way, if you get hit from behind, you’ll be pushed forward instead of into oncoming traffic. And there’s always oncoming traffic when that happens -- otherwise, why were you waiting?
My father never got that lesson, apparently, because not only did he angle his steering wheel toward the left when waiting to turn, he developed the even more dangerous habit of slowly creeping into the turn, often crossing the center line, under the theory that it would allow him to turn faster once an opportunity presented itself and might even induce an opposing motorist to stop and let him go first.
Funny, I don’t remember anyone ever obliging him in the latter respect. He didn’t accept driving advice from his kids, either. Fortunately, he also never got hit.But it’s a lesson that bears repeating. Whatever minimal time advantage one might get out of setting up for a left turn is vastly overwhelmed by the tragic consequences of getting rear-ended in that position.