Car comes within inches of collision with merging 18 wheel truck
Driving on busy highways exposes people to the risk of collisions almost every day. Changing lanes, merging, entering and exiting the highway create moments of increased risk. As long as everybody follows well established rules, accidents are few. But lapses in judgement, honest errors, reckless lane changes, moments of indecision, and constant choices make the task of driving safely a very difficult one.
The driver of this small car was traveling on Highway 404 near Toronto, Ontario. There are many lanes of traffic and the on-ramps and offramps are numerous. It is almost impossible to travel any distance on this section of road without being affected by people changing lanes around you. Simply put, there is a lot to watch for and a driver will spend a lot of time looking in all directions. The speed limit here is 100km/h or 60mph.
Our driver approached a section of highway where traffic was merging from his right. Vehicles in the lanes to his left were traveling faster than the speed limit, as is typical, and our driver could see that the cars were passing him, despite the fact that he was driving carefully at the speed limit. When he saw that the transport and the vehicle behind it were moving much more slowly, he decided that maintaining his speed was the safest approach. This is what the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and the driver's handbook suggests a driver should do when approaching such an on-ramp. It was his expectation that the merging vehicles would continue to accelerate in their lane as he passed and then they would merge safely. He increased his speed slightly to ensure that he was past them in time for their merge. They have more than 700m (half a mile) of lane left. He has the right of way by law, and by common sense.
But the 18 wheel transport truck merged much sooner than expected and the car behind it began to do the same. They began this lane change as our driver was quickly looking to his left to see if he could change lanes himself to make all of this easier. The car that was passing on his left made it impossible to move over.
The driver of the car behind the 18 wheeler obviously didn't see him as he changed lanes. It was also accelerating up on his right and preventing him from slamming on his brakes to avoid the back of the 18 wheeler.
Our driver was able to inch over and straddle the lanes until the lane to his left was fully open. He then smoothly changed lanes and missed being run over by the 18 wheeler by mere inches. He also missed sideswiping the vehicle on his left by inches as well.
Sometimes it's easier to see alternatives when we watch video footage. We mistakenly assume that the driver was able to see all that the camera shows us, but in reality, drivers of vehicles are looking in many directions and making many decisions each minute. We also have the luxury of watching several times, but drivers on the road have just one chance to get it all right.
In this case, the lane change of the merging vehicles left our driver with only two options. He could have braked hard and hoped nobody hit him, or he could do what he did and squeeze into a small gap in the traffic.
Either way, this video demonstrates how quickly an accident can happen on a highway and how keen we must be at watching other drivers around us.