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I had a crazy experience an a recent trip while driving on I-10 somewhere between Tallahassee and Panama City (in FL).

I'm in the left lane, traveling nearly 85mph in our new Acura TL with the radar detector on. I'm overtaking two slightly slower cars in the right lane, a silver Honda Civic, followed by a black Nissan 300ZX (previous generation Z).

As I even up with the Nissan, I notice what looks to be a dog step out of the trees on the right, <100yds ahead of us. He pauses for a second - it's a coyote, looking at something on the other side of the highway. My immediate thought is, "Oh, no, no, don't...noooo." Of course, he does, and bolts across the highway at the last instant. At 80+ mph, the closing rate is insane. I don't think the Civic even saw him, because he didn't react at all. The coyote crossed his lane just inches in front of his bumper. Being in the left lane, I was much more likely to make contact, but I had reacted as soon as he bolted, and started a full-on panic brake (knowing that no one was behind me). I only managed to scrub maybe 20mpg before I was right on top of the coyote, but somehow he made it to the median before we made contact. Wow, near's over, right?


Next thing I know, the Z is now crossing my lane from right to left, less than 10 feet in front of me. Except there's a lot of smoke, I'm looking at his driver's door, and he's still rotating. And I'm traveling faster than he is. I don't know happened, I can only presume he bobbled the car when he saw the coyote at the last instant, overreacted, and lost control of his car.

At this point, time seemed to slow down. I don't remember hearing any sound, but the images are vivid. I'm still threshold braking, but the gap is shrinking. The thought racing through my mind is: oh crap, I'm driving DW's brand new car (she's screaming from the passenger seat) and I'm about to be in an accident I can't possibly avoid. I was amazed at just how fast a car skidding sideways can shed speed. As I continued to mash the brake pedal through the floorboard, the gap rapidly closed to a few feet, then mere inches. The Z continued to rotate, and is now facing me, bumper to bumper. The front edge of the Z disappears below the hood line of our car. I mash the brake pedal for all I'm worth. I wait for the inevitable bump, but it never occurs.

Down to 20mph, the gap opens back up, and time (and hearing) returns to normal. Everything up to this point occurred in maybe 4 seconds. The other driver manages to steer his car back to facing the right direction. We both immediately pull to the side of the road to check things out. My pulse is probably 200bpm from the adrenaline. DW is having a borderline panic attack next to me. Two college-aged guys emerge from the Z. I get out of the car on shaky legs. DW picks a spot on the grass and sits down. The driver of the other car comes over and practically hugs me for not plowing into his door. He says he flat-out lost it, and then just did everything he could to keep it out of the median. We check out the front bumpers and there's not a mark on either car (not counting his likely flat-spotted tires). After making sure everyone is OK, we go on our separate ways.

This could have ended badly in so many ways. If the Z hit the median, we're looking at a possible rollover. If I hadn't seen the coyote when it emerged from the trees, we might have hit a good-sized animal at 80+ mph. If we had made contact with the Z, I could have lost control of the car as well.

That kind of experience is very eye matter how safe or how good a driver you think you might be, you can always get into trouble. And when something goes wrong, it happens FAST. Definitely the closest I've ever come to being in an accident.
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