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We were saddened this week to hear the news of two North Carolina students who were killed in a car accident this week on their way to a college orientation program. One of those who died was Arielle Parker, a promising, talented and much loved young woman from Greensboro.
The students were traveling in a caravan when the accident occurred, with one car following another to a ropes obstacle course near the Wingate University campus. Driver Mishawn Miller, who also died, ran a stop sign and the students’ car was hit by an oncoming grain truck. Two other students in Miller’s car were injured.
It’s not clear from news reports what caused Miller to miss the stop sign, but residents who live near the scene of the accident say it’s a dangerous intersection. They’ve called for better signage and other safety features to prevent future accidents.
One lesson from this tragic story is that we all need to be more attentive drivers. We’re not going to speculate about what went on in Miller’s car and what might have caused him to miss the stop sign at the intersection.
But we do know from personal experience that it’s easy to make mistakes when you’re driving as part of a caravan and when you have lots of passengers in the car with you.
Think about the last time you were following someone else to an unfamiliar location. Were you as focused on following safe driving rules and the traffic around you? Or were you more concerned with losing sight of the caravan leader and getting lost?
I’d bet that we’ve all taken some unnecessary risks — speeding through a yellow light, perhaps? — to keep up with another car. So dangerous.
I found an article on convoy safety that is aimed at members of car clubs, but some of the tips are useful to any of us who find ourselves following along behind someone.
- Make sure every driver has directions to where you’re going. These days, many drivers have GPS systems in their cars. Or you can print directions from Google Maps.
- Treat stop signs and stop lights as you would if you weren’t traveling in a caravan. Come to a complete stop at stop signs and check for oncoming traffic before proceeding through the intersection. Don’t try to “make the light” just to keep up with the driver in front of you.
- If you’re leading a convoy or caravan, pay attention to the car behind you. Pace your speed to that car’s speeding. If the person following you falls behind or off course, find a safe place to pull over so he can catch up.
- Signal all turns early and relentlessly.
- Favor the right (slow) lane when on a four-lane highway.
- Use common sense. Drive as though you are an individual following a planned route and map, rather than a participant of a group.
Remember, while getting lost isn’t fun, it’s much better than losing your life or taking someone else’s through unsafe and inattentive driving.