3 Close Calls for the World As We Know It

In honor of Near Miss Day, we consider 3 near misses that could have changed everything (kind of).

Near misses

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

2 Responses to “3 Close Calls for the World As We Know It”

  1. Avatar for Heidi Wallis
    Patrick M
    March 24, 2014 #

    Coming back from my then girlfriends home I feel asleep at the wheel, woke up with my car in the middle of the road with an on coming car headed towards me, I woke up turned missed the car but our mirrors hit each other's

  2. Avatar for Heidi Wallis
    Howard Tillison
    August 27, 2014 #

    I was driving across Nevada on the two-lane highway that runs from Tonopah to Ely. A few miles east of Tonopah, there are signs warning that it's "open range." The posted limit is 70, and that's about what I was doing when two cows suddenly came from the left side, across the left lane, heading into my lane. There was no time to stop, and I could not miss both cows by swerving into the left lane. The shoulder on the right side looked flat, so I drove off the road onto what looked like open ground. It turned out to be soft sand, and it was all I could do to keep the tires from digging in and causing me to roll as I basically skidded off the pavement. I was able to keep control, and somehow did not hit the vertical markers (reflectors on "T" posts) off the right side of the pavement. I had not yet touched the brakes because of the "skid" feeling, and I could see a berm coming up ahead of me. About that time, the wheels regained traction and I was able to steer back toward the pavement. I intersected the pavement at about a 30 degree angle, and went a bit airborne. I was able to straighten the car enough so that only the two left wheels went off the left side of the pavement before I regained control. Once I was going straight again, I decided to cut back to the right to get in my proper lane, and as I did, the car swerved a bit, but I ended up in the right lane, in control. The berm area I had been approaching was the edge of a deep drainage ditch that ran at right angles to the roadway, so I was very lucky not to have gone airborne and landed in that ditch. When I finally looked down at the speedometer, I was still going 50 mile per hour. I never touched the brakes through the whole episode. It was the closest call I ever had in a car.

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