These are the first responses from readers answering the question "What happened in your crash? Did it change the way you drive?
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I was stopped at a Taco Bell exit, which was controlled by a traffic light. I was waiting for the green light to allow me to turn left out of the Taco Bell and onto Riverside. As I patiently waited, I heard an engine revving up. A truck was acclerating towards the intersection to meet the gap in traffic and enter the Taco Bell parking lot. Well, he was going to fast. And he was drunk. He made it through the intersection just fine, but he didn't straighten out his steering wheel. He slammed into the side of my car, completely mangling the driver side of my car. He didn't stop. He ran over a freshly planted sapling, oh so gently grazed a parked car, jumped the curb at the rear of the Taco Bell, and ended up in a ditch in a field. On the plus side, he came back to say Sorry. Lesson: Hm... I dunno. Don't drive in the presence of drunk drivers?
I have been in 4 accidents.†
Beleive it or not, 1 was during drivers ed! I wasnt driving though, I was 'observing.' It was raining, the road was wet. A truck lost control on the wet asphault and BAM. T-Bone. The driving instructor was injured but not seriously.
All 3 other accidents I was stopped in the road an d someone rear-ended me. I was seriously injured in one of them. A guy driving a truck wasnt paying attention and hit my wife and I at about 50 MPH.
I used to work in the movie industry where incredibly long hours often cause people to drive home exhausted. I had been up for 24 hours when I fell asleep at the wheel for about a second and a half. Long enough for me to plow into a car stopped at a red light. Amazingly no one was hurt and I wasn't cited for the accident. But HE was cited for driving without a license!
Sleep depravation in the movie industry is a huge problem. In 1997, a camera assistant on the movie Pleasantville was killed after falling asleep at the wheel after working a 19 hour day. Production companies regularly schedule long days to accommodate expensive actorís schedules, availability of locations, etc. I fully support www.12on12off.org, a friendís crusade for the standardization of the 12 hour work day in the movie industry. The famous cinematographer Haskell Wexler just completed a documentary called Who Needs Sleep about this problem as well.
My second accident was driving at about 70 mph on eastbound 80 near Roseville. I was in the second lane from the left when the semi in the third lane from the left started to change lanes, right where I was at the time. Either I was in his blind spot or he didnít look for traffic. Figuring that was not a good place to be, I started to move into the leftmost lane, only to realize at the last second there was a pickup where I wanted to be. I swerved back to avoid the pickup, remembered why I was leaving that lane in the first place, and ended up losing control of my Sentra and hitting the pickup, knocking it into the guardrail. When we got out of our cars, I was so rattled that I ended up flinging my arms around the guy in the pickup and apologizing because I was so relieved I hadnít hurt him. The guy with the pickup was very understanding and the guy in the semi very shifty. It ended up costing me $1500 to repair my car because I did not have collision insurance at the time.
Lessons learned: get out of the way of trucks even if youíre following the rules of the road, be assertive when in an accident with someone sketchy, and use those turn signals!
I was hit, 100% their fault. However, I no longer go around the block to let the song end.
While following a friend somewhere, I was driving along in my 89 Plymouth Horizon, at night, in the rain. It was a piece of junk with nearly bald tires. The light in front of us turned yellow, but with enough time for both of us to make it through. Instead of going through, she decided to slam on her brakes, in case I didn't have enough time to make it through. I slammed on the brakes, downshifted and yanked on the e-brake, but still ended up rear-ending her from a complete slide at about 20 mph. The front end of my car was cosmetically destroyed, but the frame was straight. She had a small, dime sized hole in her rear bumper and no other damage. I learned to assume that the person in front of you has better brakes and better tires than you, and follow accordingly.
The only accident I have been in is when a deer (pregnant with twins I might add) decided it would be a good idea to run into the side of my little Dodge Shadow when I was going about 50mph in the middle of the day. Yes, the deer hit ME. Went through the drivers side window and pretty much totaled the car. The most freaky part about it was that it came out of nowhere and there was nothing that I could have done.
Lesson: Don't trust deer. Encourage hunters to keep the deer population on the lower end of safe.
I was waiting in a right turn only lane from one artirial onto another. A car was ahead of me and traffic cleared , so he made his right turn and zoomed off... as he pulled out I focused on the oncoming traffic. I saw that it was still clear and popped my clutch and hit the gas and BAM! the wierdo pulled ahead about 30 ft or so and STOPPED half in and half out of the merge lane. He was an older dude that was freaked out by on coming traffic. I could have avoided it though if I would have given that one last second look ahead, which I always do now. Never assume someone has actually gone before you commit to going. Fortuanatly, I hadn't built up enough momentum to do to much damage. I bent the bumper frame on my car, but you couldn't tell there was any damage at all... his car was a geo metro and I crunched the bumper and obliterated the tail light. My insurance calland said all the damage was a total of $400 to the other guy. The other lesson I learned was that exchanging insurance info is fine, but work out an aggreement that they call you first with the estimate so you can decide if you can afford to just pay them rather then invole your insurance.
Another time, in the same 89 Plymouth Horizon (called the Putzmobile), I was driving along a gravel road through the woods on a Sunday afternoon. I was just enjoying the scenery so I was only doing about 30 in a 35. I came around a fairly sharp corner, and came face to face with a deer. I drove off into the ditch to avoid hitting the deer, slowed down and tried to get back on the road before I came to a group of trees. When The road there turned from hard packed dirt to loose gravel, and when I tried to get back on, the back end swung out, caught, and rolled me over so I ended up in the other ditch (landed on the wheels) facing the way I came. I learned that sometimes, you can do everything right and still be lucky to be alive. Also, a rollover accident, if you land correctly, can fix that bad alignment problem you'd been having. Though it's not really a recommended way of going about it.
********A near accident:
I was driving home at night driving around 70mph on the freeway when a ways ahead I saw headlights doing things that they don't normally do. About 2 seconds later I had to slam on my brakes as I noticed a couch sitting in the middle of the freeway. It had fallen off of a truck up ahead and another pickup truck hit it and flipped over. Everyone was safe, but man, I'm sure those people who flipped were angry at the other truck for not securing that couch!
******Lesson: Don't trust any else's "secure" attaching of larger luggage.
I have avoided a number of accidents in these cold, icy Minnesota winters by using Green Diamond snow tires. They're the only tire I've ever used that is able to brake hard and corner on glare ice. If not for these tires, I would have had to replace a dozen various body parts on 3 different cars. If you live in an icy state, use proper tires. It will save you much heartache and also save your pocketbook. Using the wrong tires for the season is like wearing jeans and a t-shirt through a hurricane. Yeah, you're covered, but you're gonna get drenched. If you'd just put on the waders and poncho to begin with, you'd still be somewhat dry, though still stupid for walking around outside during a hurricane.
I was driving my '76 Nova (hello, no ABS) in downtown Tracy, trying to hurry to school. I was stuck behind a big-rig. Being impatient, I didn't take his brake lights very seriously. So when he stopped for some pedestrians, and I was tailgating him, I saw my life flash before me. I slammed on the brakes... and nothing happened. My brake warning-light turned on and I screamed, but luckily I was going slowly enough to grind to a halt before getting a face-full of steering wheel. So kids, don't tailgate, and remember to PUMP the brakes when you don't have ABS.
I was driving North on I-94 near the Illinois-Wisconsin border in my old 94 Escort a few years ago when traffic suddenly stopped dead in front of me. Some people were even pulling onto the shoulder to avoid collisions. I slammed on my brakes hard and avoided the car in front of me by approximately one foot. I had no more exhaled the breath I was holding when -BAM!- the minivan behind me slammed into me full-tilt, causing me to tag the bumper of the car in front of me as well. The minivan was filled with six recent high school graduates, all eighteen, who were headed to Milwaukee for the weekend. Their hood was bashed in, the horn was blaring, the windshield had a tremendous spider-web-crack in it, and the airbags had all gone off. The car in front of me pulled over long enough to inspect damage (apparently none) and then drove off without even talking to us. My car sustained a new minor scratch with a hint of green paint on the rear bumper.
Did it change the way I drive? Indubitably. For about two years afterwards I was exceedingly jumpy and nervous and would automatically tap my brakes every time I saw brakelights in front of me on the highway. To this day, I still keep a greater-than-normal distance between myself and the car in front of me. It's a very scary thing to imagine yourself safe only to discover in the next second that you aren't.
Slow and steady wins the race!
Crash #1 - followed a truck turning left into a parking lot. He stopped once we were in the parking lot, and I saw his reverse lights come on. I immediately put my car in reverse and was about to backup into the street when I noticed another car travelling down the street toward me. I couldn't back up, and despite pedestrians waving at the other driver, he backed right into my car. Not my fault. I should've used the horn, though.
Crash #2 - I was turning left from a suicide lane across a busy two lane street in Kelowna, BC. It was so busy that traffic was barely moving. The other drivers stopped and left a gap in traffic so that I could make my left turn. Some idiot was driving on the extreme right, in the bicycle lane. As I made my left turn he popped out from behind the line of cars and my front bumper hit his driver side fender. He tried to claim it was my fault until I told ICBC that he was driving in the bicycle lane. Then he dropped the issue. It was only a small scratch on my bumper. Not my fault.
Crash #3 - This one totalled my 1990 Nissan Pulsar. I was driving down the road, talking with my friend but still watching the road. I glanced away for a split second, and when I looked back, there was suddenly a truck, stopped, right in front of me. He has just reversed out of his driveway without checking for oncoming traffic. I hit the brakes, but the road was wet and I slid right into him, crumpling the entire front end of my poor car (which I had just painted). With the bumper crumpling the way it did, the impact was extremely soft, like hitting a fluffy pillow. The occupants of the other vehicle tried to claim whiplash but I think ICBC saw through these lies. Once again, not my fault.
One time, a lot of traffic was stopped at a light, and I was trying to pull out of a parking lot, turning left. The two lanes of traffic waiting at the light kindly left a gap so that I could pull out and go the other direction. Unfortunately, I wasn't cautious enough to see the Surburban pulling a boat barrelling down the third, left turn lane. BAM! Lessons learned: when you're stopped at a light, don't enourage people to make these kind of turns by making gaps (I still let them pull out in front of me if they aren't crossing lanes). If you are making such a turn, it's very awkward to reject their kind overture by sitting there while they wave you through; if you succumb to peer pressure, be very, very wary was you proceed across the lanes.
Another time, I was driving on a foggy summer night on a country road in Vermont. I'd driven the road many times, but for some reason, I didn't realize that I was coming up to the "T" in the road where I had to turn left. I was going over 60 when I saw the sign and realized I wasn't going to stop in time. I sailed off the road and into some guy's field, narrowly missing some massive, rusty, pointy equipment that had been sitting there for years. As I surveyed the damage (bent wishbone on a Volvo), a couple of drunk rednecks successfully navigated the turn, came to a stop, and after asking if we were okay, proceeded to make "i-might-be-drunk-but-at-least-i-can-drive" jokes. Lessons learned: just because the car can handle the curves at speed doesn't mean it's a safe speed; factor in other concerns like visibility and surface conditions.
I was driving home late one evening around Mardi Gras. There's a club right on the street near where I was living at the time and I saw a red pickup truck nearly pull out from the club right in front of me. Luckily, he stopped before entering the road. About a minute later I was stopped at the traffic light just up the road when I saw a pair of approaching headlights. I eased off the brakes just in time to be slammed into by the driver. I got out of the car to discover the same red truck that had almost pulled out in front of me before.
Turns out the guy was drunk and when I got out of the car (which had been pushed out into the intersection) to call 911, he sped off down a side street. Luckily (again) I was already on the phone with the dispatcher and was able to chase after the truck long enough to scream the make, model, and license plate number into the phone. The cops came out, took statements, and drove down the same side street looking for the guy. They found him passed out, hanging halfway out of his truck in a parking lot about TWO MILES down a windy road. I couldn't believe he had made it that far. I was at the scene when they busted the guy (actually, I ended up driving one of the officers there in my still drivable car). It was a wild ride. I got to go to court and make a statement to the district attorney and everything. My lesson from this is to not drive by clubs around Mardi Gras, even if I have to pass one to get home.
I was driving accross the Ben Franklin Bridge, which is a big tall bridge that crosses the Deleware River, and links Philadelphia, PA with Camdem NJ.†
At the time, there was no center dividing structure on the giant 5 lane highway bridge.†
One night, a driver coming west experienced a diabetic shock, and drove head on into our east bound lane.†
Cars sweerved out of the way, but the car in front of me swerved to hard and hit the side rail of the bridge, and his tire flew over my car. I thought I was in a movie and prayed that my car wouldn't go over into the drink.
I braked and braked and braked as hard as I could, and stopped very short of hitting the car that was now perpendicular in front of me. Two other cars were also stopped and pointed askew.†
A man got out of his car woosily and went down to the asphalt and had a heart attack. I gave him a blanket and let the professionals help.†
The cops and ambulances took care of everything. As I stood there, waiting for traffic to clear, waiting to see if the man was going to be ok, just waiting, on top of a bridge in the middle of traffic at night. It was surreal.†
What happened in your crash? Did it change the way you drive?
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