The interstate. High noon. The sun is bright, the track is fast and you are in the right lane doing 55 mph. Suddenly a careening car, speeding in the opposite direction, is almost upon you. A head-on collision is imminent.
What do you do?"First," says Bob Bondurant, president of the Bondurant School of Performance Driving in Sonoma, Calif., "if you've been paying attention, you'll probably never get into such a scrape.
"Inattention, the lack of concentration, is one of the two major causes of highway accidents. We've all seen the woman speeding down the road while touching up her hair in the rear view mirror, the man reading the road map, the youngster bouncing up and down to the beat of the music, the driver's head turned to the person in the passenger seat."
Bondurant is a former race driver who in the past 14 years has trained drivers ranging from race drivers Rick Mears, Al Unser Jr. and Bill Elliott to personalities the likes of Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood and Elke Sommer.
He drives with both hands on the wheel, eyes forward.
"How you sit is important," Bon-durant adds. "Sit up straight, with your hands on the steering wheel at 3 and 9 o'clock, and you must pay attention.
"Most people keep their eyes one to three vehicles ahead. I drive 15 to 20 vehicles ahead and rely in my peripheral vision to keep me informed on what's around me. I go (look) through the mirrors - rear view, left and right - so I know who is where, in case of such an emergency.
"It's concentration. Concentrate on your driving, and you'll probably never get into a head-on situation, because you've had time to avert it," he says.
The second major cause of accidents, says Bondurant, is "abuse of the brakes."
Most people in the above situation will stand on the brakes. That locks the wheels, locks the brakes, puts the vehicle into an uncontrollable skid, and nothing the driver tries will work.
"Brakes get more people in trouble than anything other than themselves," he adds, which brings up another Bondurant quotation:
"On the street or on the racetrack, the capabilities of most cars today are way above the capabilities of most drivers. Today's cars handle better, stop quicker and corner better. They are safer than anything we've seen in the past.
"Take anti-lock brakes (or automatic braking systems), for example. My estimate is that if all vehicles on the road today had anti-lock brakes, we would eliminate 70 percent of major accidents."
When does he think the government will mandate anti-locks for all vehicles?
"The sooner the better."
What's the more important safety device, anti-lock brakes or air bags?
"Anti-lock brakes, no question."
Pumping the brakes is the manual method, which is good, but as always, the computer is quicker than the human foot.