Tomorrow is Near Miss Day, which commemorates March 23, 1989, when a large asteroid missed the Earth by 500,000 miles. Now that may not sound like much of a near miss. But, to put it in perspective: the sun, our nearest star, is a whopping 93 million miles away. So a mere half million miles is really just a (ahem) stone’s throw in galaxy terms.

In honor of Near Miss Day tomorrow, we thank our lucky stars — literally and figuratively — for near misses and close calls of every size, shape, and magnitude.

Another near-miss asteroid

On March 9, 2013, an asteroid the size of 1.5 football fields flew within 240,000 miles of Earth — more than twice as close as the original Near Miss Day asteroid! According to the Stanford News, if this asteroid (called “2013 ET”) hadn’t missed, it would have leveled an area the size of San Francisco Bay. Close call, humans!

Close call for Italian opera stars

Just one day after 2013 ET narrowly missed colliding with Earth, opera star Graeme Danby narrowly missed being pulverized on the stage of Milan’s opera house. The Journal reported that a 55 pound weight plummeted nearly 60 feet during dress rehearsals for A Dog’s Heart, clearing the singer by just a few inches. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the show, as shows must do, went on.

Near miss for rock ‘n’ roll

More figuratively speaking, though no less potentially impactful for the world, was a boy band’s near miss with choosing the wrong name. Could The Pendletones have recorded “Surfer Girl” or “Surfin’ USA”? Hardly! Lucky for all of us, Brian, Dennis, Carl, Mike, and Al ultimately opted to call themselves The Beach Boys instead. Whew.

Driving close calls

Light-years away from the star-filled center of the galaxy, far removed from the stages of Milan or the annals of rock history, we driving mortals face near misses more often here on the highways and roundabouts of the real world.

In a recent study commissioned by Ford and reported by USA Today, the majority of U.S. drivers surveyed said they knew something about close calls. In fact, 57 percent said they’d had an accident or close call with someone in their blind spot, 48 percent hit (or almost hit) something while backing out of a parking lot, and 38 percent avoided parallel parking.

And while 99 percent of those surveyed categorized themselves as good drivers, the stats might say otherwise:

  •  76 percent admitted to eating or drinking behind the wheel
  •  55 percent said they speed
  •  53 percent talk on a handheld phone
  •  37 percent drive when they’re too tired
  •  25 percent will pick up their phones and search contacts

Knowing what we know about distracted driving, these numbers go a long way toward explaining the high percentage of driving near misses.

Tell us your driving stories

To celebrate the fact that we’ve yet to be annihilated by a wayward asteroid, tell us about your driving close calls in the comments section below.

Related links

Find out about driving danger zones and how to avoid them
Learn what to do after an accident (in case your near miss … isn’t)
Watch this year’s asteroid streak past our planet

Safe and smart | Around the nation

about Heidi

Heidi brings 8 years’ experience to her role as Esurance’s copywriting manager. As a bona fide lit nerd and sucker for anachronism, she spends her days trying to incorporate Hemingway, Frost, and Shakespeare into car insurance (with varying degrees of success).