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After three close calls I'm knocking on wood for safer summer

In Other Words
Lead Summary
Jason Berghorst, reporter

“Things happen in threes.”
I’ve heard that phrase, or variations of it, numerous times over the years, most often referencing deaths or other bad circumstances and events.
I usually dismiss “happens in threes” as simple superstition.
If you wait long enough, eventually three people you know are going to die or three unfortunate things will happen to your family.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m superstitious in other ways, just not when it comes to three bad events happening together.
At least not until this month.
I’ve had a chance this summer to do all kinds of things I have missed doing for the last year and a half.
And that means that I’ve been driving a lot.
Maybe that’s why I’m now hoping things really do happen in threes.
Three times in the last two or three weeks I’ve had what I would call “close calls” for accidents while driving.
The first driving scare of the summer was actually more of a lesson in government spending than driving for me.
I was driving on Highway 169 between Jordan and Belle Plaine when I noticed a cloud of dust and debris on the other side of the highway.
A car was off the roadway, bouncing along a median barrier that was built to prevent traffic from colliding with oncoming traffic. It was working exactly as promoted.
Although the driver’s side of the car was getting shredded, the barrier bent but didn’t break. The car didn’t flip, bounce back in the driving lane or cross the median into my lane.
My thought was, “Wow, those things really work!”
I also couldn’t help but think what might have happened in the absence of the median barrier.
The second incident in Sioux Falls was a much closer call.
I was driving with a friend on Interstate 229 entering a construction zone. While traffic had slowed, we were still going about 35 to 40 mph.
While visiting with my passenger, we heard the unmistakable sound of a crash and I immediately, instinctively hit my brakes and safely swerved onto the shoulder — narrowly avoiding the SUV in front of us that had just rear-ended the car in front of it.
I must say I was pretty rattled by that close call, but also pretty impressed by my driving instincts.
As I left for a Fourth of July weekend excursion that would involve a lot of driving, I cautiously considered the “happens in threes” superstition.
When a pickup ran a red light about 50 yards in front of my car in downtown Hutchinson Saturday, I actually felt a sense of relief.
I considered this to be the final incident of the “things happen in threes” theory, and I’m now looking forward to less eventful driving for the rest of the summer.
… Knock on wood.

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