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— It happened with an abruptness that jars a person back to reality. It was unexpected. Surprising. Jarring. Sobering. Abrupt.

All of those emotions occur in an accident-possible situation. Fortunately that is what it was. Possible. The accident didn't happen. But it was sobering. Nerveshattering.

It happened last Wednesday. You know, it was rainy, in fact raining quite hard. The sky was dark. The streets were water-covered. There was an air of soberness about the whole scene.

It happened when the driver was traveling east on a Gravette street. I watched when he stopped as he approached Highway 59. There was little traffic. There was nothing to indicate a jarring situation might occur.

It didn't.

I watched as the driver's car started to move forward. Suddenly there was a squealing of tires. The vehicle gripped the pavement to a halt. A southbound SUV glided by along the highway. The accident didn't happen.

I was that eastbound driver. I look back to that moment and see it happening. What might have happened.

I look back and see the light gray SUV traveling south on Highway 59. It blended perfectly into the pavement.

Even though by windshield was cleared by thewindshield wipers, the side windows were spattered with raindrops. The fast approaching SUV was practically invisible through that rain-splattered sidewindow. My lights were on. Those on the SUV were not.

Why I saw the car I cannot say. Some small reflection, some tiny movement was detected. My reaction was fast enough to stop my forward movement. My tires squealed. The SUV sped by. Lights off.

I write this to once again call attention to the fact that a state law requires drivers to turn on their lights when it's necessary to use windshield wipers. Or when it is foggy. It should be mandatory they are always on.

Yes, I look back and I can almost see, almost visualize the SUV plowing into the side of my car. Into the driver's side where I was sitting. I can almost hear the sound of sirens, smell the antiseptic odor of the emergency room, almost feel the pain of broken bones, of glass-inflicted lacerations, of . . . . . .

This may sound overly dramatic. Overstated. Unimportant to others. But the incident could happen to anyone. To you. On any day. Accidents are surprising. Jarring. Sobering. Unexpected. Abrupt. Lifethreatening.

Please, drivers, turn on your lights. Please, drivers, be ready to respond to those who don't.

Opinion, Pages 4 on 09/16/2009

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