Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Driving on Two Wheels

Taking the hint from Tim and Jake I will tell you how I almost killed the whole family (including our dog Lady) when I was 16. I am a little fuzzy on some details so please fill in the blanks or make corrections! It is funny I do not remember much from that trip. I think because I was a rebellious teenager who had her mind elsewhere and really did not want to spend time with the family! Sorry family but it was true. I like to spend time with you now! :) Anyway I digress. . .

We took a family vacation to Colorado the summer I was 16. I had my license for maybe 3 months. I thought I was a good driver, but don't all teenagers! On this trip I had my first (I think it was the first) of many accidents. I had just spent a week at volleyball camp and was exhausted. We had our 86 Toyota MiniVan. In case you are not familiar this was the first Toyota minivan and it looked like a space ship or a modern hippie van. We were pulling a small trailer.

I slept the first part of the trip. I guess we all must have had more confidence in my driving and the rest I had then we should have. Sometime late in the night (2 or 3 maybe?) it was my turn to drive. I believe we were in Indiana somewhere. I think we had left in the evening. Now I look back and I am sure my parents do also and wonder what the heck we were thinking having and inexperienced, physically tired driver drive in the late night hours, but . . . I am not sure how long I drove. The whole family fell asleep, including Lady.

I had the cruise set, movin' down the high way. I am sure I was very proud of myself. It didn't last long. Soon I was struggling to keep my eyes open. It sounds dumb now, but I really didn't know to open the window, turn the radio up, turn the cruise off or just stop. I set myself a goal to drive until such and such a time.

We all woke up with cattails and tall grasses whipping around the van. Some were screaming, some barking, some in shock. When the vehicle stopped the grasses were head high, we were looking at a field and couldn't see the road.

We were beside the highway at an overpass. I think it was an overpass to a swampy area or small creek. It was near dawn. We hiked up to the road. There was no traffic and of course this was before everyone had a cell phone. I forget how long we waited or exactly what happened. I think a trucker called a tow truck for us.

It was truly a miracle that so little damage was done. None of us were hurt. The van had minimal damage. I think all it needed was an alignment. But we were so far down into this marshy area it took hours to get us out.

When I fell asleep the cruise was set at 65 mph. We missed a guard rail by a few feet when we went down the bank of the overpass. The speed and slope caused us to be on two wheels at least for awhile. We were able to tell this because near where we went off the road there was a shallow concrete drain ditch. There were fresh skid marks, but only on one side.

I did have several accidents after that, but none of them because I fell asleep. To this day I never use the cruise if I am tired. I insist that the copilot stays awake if the driver is even slightly tired. When I am not driving I have a very hard time sleeping. Only in the last few years have I been able to sleep at all in a vehicle. When I do sleep I wake up for every bump or slow down. Lessons I wish I would have learned before the accident, but then that is not the Miller way! :)


  1. We left in the evening and were pulling a pop-up camper behind us. The overpass went over some train tracks. It took 2 tow trucks to get us out because we were so far into the weeds/cattails/swampy area. I think this accident might be the reason I have a tough time sleeping in a moving vehicle and would rather drive the whole way. (and Delilah's night vision, lack of) None the less it was an interesting start to a great trip.

  2. I'm breaking out in hives..... And you guys wonder why I am so paranoid around you... SCARY.

  3. And your Mom, mentioning this to me some time later, reported it as "a little accident, but no one got hurt." Queen of understatement, I guess.
    Aunt Nancy

  4. Stephanie really has always had a hard time sleeping in a vehicle while I am driving, up untill about a year or two ago. I had never heard this story in full and I can see why everyone is still scarred...

  5. I remember this well - I can only say that God was definately looking after us!! Just the alignment to the van and a cable on the pop up broke. We stopped right before hitting a concrete bridge post - only about 4 or 5 feet from it. If we would have been hurt we may have been there for days - you couldn't see it from the highway. it did take 2 tow truks all day to get us out. It's only been about the last 12-18 months that I could sleep in a vehicle which hasn't been so good on some of our long trips.