Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Last night I hit a deer while driving west along route 524 between routes 9 and 537. I was bringing the boys home from their weekly swim lesson at the YMCA. It was very nearly a non-incident but significant as "a first". Sitting in the second row, Kenny had just turned off his interior light at my request, but Tim, in the third row, still had his light on as he looked at an alphabet coloring book. I don't think that the interior light impaired my vision, at least not as much as the high beams of an oncoming car at that moment.

I felt blinded by the high beams and flashed mine back. Since moving to a rural area several years ago, I have abandoned the technique of flashing my high beams at other drivers for a few reasons. For starters, I'm never quite sure that they are using their high beams. Newer cars seem to have very bright "low beams," maybe those xenon headlights. Or maybe my night vision is just getting worse. Secondly, I know my way around even with little visibility and can usually get past a car despite their high beams. And, lastly, many drivers seem to be "just passing through." They don't know the area, they aren't comfortable driving in the country, and every little bit of light helps them find their way. This explains why, in my experience, most drivers no longer practice the courtesy of dropping their high beams: in the country, they are nervous about not seeing where they are going. Maybe the driver last night was on the lookout for deer. Maybe he saw them before I did. And maybe that's why he dropped his headlights.

But, for whatever reason, the driver dropped the lights just in time for me to see the lead deer, a mature one, get across the highway. The second, younger deer was smaller and slower, probably due to its immaturity. It was unable to get across in time. I stopped pretty short - that's something that I like about my car. Actually I was going 5 m.p.h. under the speed limit, so that helped us stop as well. I usually drive with my cruise control set all of the time to the speed limit so the dial is one less thing to watch. However, last night, I failed to creep up when the zone increased from 45 m.p.h. to 50 m.p.h. just on the borders of the residential part of west Freehold.

I bumped the second deer while checking for more behind her and she limped off the roadway. I am very upset and troubled by that and imagine the worst has befallen her since the accident. The boys were fine (are fine), didn't really see anything and actually fell asleep shortly thereafter and slept all night. Before leaving the Y, Kenny had noticed that the baby's car restraint strap had come unbuckled - a chronic problem but less frequent since using the built-in booster seat next to him instead of a clunky Graco booster. So, before leaving the Y, I made sure that his car seat was securely strapped in and after hitting the deer, I made a point to thank Kenny again for noticing something that I can't see from my side of the car. All these things made it possible to simply drive away home afterwards.


michele said...

You must have been so thankful to the Lord that you, your boys and the car did not sustain any damages. Hitting a deer can be very expensive. And at least the deer got away, maybe she survived.

Moonshadow said...

Yes, yes, as I mulled over the sequence of events, I couldn't help but see grace.

I am saying "thank you" as often as I think about some aspect of "the worst," but my gratitude is restrained by my reluctance to consider the full possibility of the incident. I don't want to go there in my imagination; I'm afraid.