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My Car Saved My Life

Most cars can’t quite drive themselves yet, but they just might prevent a catastrophe

Mark Harlan is happy to be alive — and he has his new car’s safety features to thank.

Mark Harlan is happy to be alive — and he has his new car’s safety features to thank.

It was a fine October morning last year at about 10 o’clock when Mark Harlan reached the top of the Merrill Barber Bridge heading west toward Indian River Boulevard, driving the usual 45 miles per hour.

That was his last memory of the drive before he blacked out.

The next thing Harlan recalls is a couple of EMTs removing him from his car and putting him on a gurney. He was unhurt, but he did spend two nights at Indian River Medical Center for evaluation. No definitive cause was found for his sudden blackout, and he has not experienced anything like it since.

His car, a brand-new Lexus sedan, suffered only a blown right front tire and a small scratch on the bumper, the result of hitting the curb. He has never repaired the scratch. “I keep it as a reminder that the car saved my life!” he says.

“What was so weird is that I’d bought the car the day before — not the week before, but the day before.” He had traded in his six-year-old SUV for the new car because he was intrigued by the many new safety features now available. If he had waited just one more day, we might be writing about a serious accident and injuries, not only to Harlan, but also to the driver of the vehicle that was stopped at the light as Harlan’s car approached.