TL;DRWhat You Need To Know:

  • I had my first car crash on Tuesday 22nd February, 2011
    • It wasn't entirely my fault but under law, I am "at fault". Luckily nobody was injured in the crash.
  • "You can always depend on the kindness of strangers"...
    • The other motorists were extremely kind to me and didn't show any anger towards me at all; their anger was directed at the driver who braked suddenly and caused our accident, he himself escaping any collision and tearing off after it happened.
  • I filed my first insurance claim after almost 13 years of driving without an accident
    • The comprehensive insurance policy is taking care of everything, after I pay out the "excess". The main damage taken in all of this was to my ego and pride, both of which probably needed a bit of a slapping anyway...
  • I'm nervous about getting back behind the wheel
    • Actually, I'm really only nervous about driving on the same stretch of road where the accident occurred, but I'll eventually get over that. I'm still going to be borderline-paranoid about driving excessively slowly and carefully there from now on however.
 Full Blog Post

My poor Barina...I broked its nose...

Poor Barina, I broked your nose…I’m sorry…

Tuesday, 22nd February, 2011; let me paint you a scene…

The speed limit is 60 kilometres an hour, not overly fast, however you’re travelling downhill towards a busy intersection where a highway crosses the street you’re travelling on.

There is a big “Keep Clear” section to allow motorists to cross across your two lanes into side streets, approaching rapidly.

A car suddenly slams on their brakes, despite (apparently) there being nobody in front of them and nothing to cause them to do so and the line of cars behind them have to brake as well.

The chain reaction has begun. The little Toyota Corolla brakes in time and slides to a stop behind the dickhead up front who’s slowed almost to a stop for no apparent reason.

The Lexus behind the Toyota slams on their brakes too, missing the Corolla thanks to ABS breaks.

The Ford GT brakes too, knowing that they’d stop because of their awesome ABS brake system but also knowing that something is going to go wrong.

My little Holden Barina locks up and goes into a slide. No fancy ABS brakes for me…

Sliding at just over 50 km/h, I plough into the GT in front of me, pushing him forward into the Lexus which, in turn, gets pushed forward into the Corolla.

Note that the Corolla was right behind the idiot that braked first, but didn’t hit him? Yeah, well, when all this happened, the guy that braked suddenly took off and nobody got his details.

From here, we have a line of four cars with drivers needing to get out and inspect the damage and exchange insurance information.

I can tell you, knowing the road law of our State, I knew right away that I was in the “wrong” for not leaving enough room between my car and the one in front to stop.

Sliding at that speed and having done all I could do, (brake and brace for impact), I went through so many thoughts and emotions before I hit that I couldn’t even begin to describe what happened, but I can say that the slide was one of the worst feelings I’ve had.

There was absolutely nothing I could have done. There was a wall of cars to my right in the second lane and telegraph poles to my left on the nature strip – had I swerved, things could have been much worse.

What Came Next Was Unexpected…

Shaking from the shock of the accident and the pain that immediately flared up in my back and neck (due in part to the fact I’d been flat on my back the week before with muscle pain…), I got out and walked toward the group of drivers that were already exchanging information and inspecting damage.

They were all understandable pissed off but didn’t once address any of it towards me; they were all in agreeance that the idiot that braked first was the real one “at fault” and were pissy that nobody had managed to get his details.

Details were exchanged and the young bloke I hit first called a panel beater mate of his to come help with his car. They were both really supportive and kind, helping to explain what would happen with the insurance claim and that the car wasn’t a write-off and was fixable, etc.

Bit of irony? The guy I hit lives just around the corner from me in my estate…how’s that for a small world?

Insurance Claim Filed, Car Towed

The tow truck driver said that he would deposit the car in the holding yard of the smash repairs shop that worked with RACV insurance claims and that they’d be in contact with me the next day about it all.

In the meantime, Jenny had picked me up and driven me home and I’d jumped straight on the phone to RACV insurance to lodge the claim.

They were very calm and patient and I was grateful that there wasn’t a hint of judgement in the operator’s voice.

So, the claim was lodged and I took it upon myself, despite not having to, to call the other drivers involved and give them the claim number (even though the insurance company would be in touch themselves). I felt that it was the honourable thing to do, especially with how nice they’d all been about it.

Where It Happened

I think I’ll always be nervous of driving this stretch of road again – it was always bad, with people speeding up in the right lane and then cutting you off to get into the left lane, but this has just made it all the worse…I’ll be driving like a bit of a “granny” down this street for a while at least!

It was opposite “Peters Street”, on Grimshaw Street in Watsonia North, Victoria. Heading downhill towards the “Greensborough Bypass”. See below:

This is where the smash occurred - I'll forever be nervous driving down here...

So, What Have I Taken Away From This Experience?

  1. 1. No matter how carefully you drive, there’s always room to be even more cautious.
  2. I spent a week wracking my brains, thinking, “what if…” or “if only…” Retrospect is a bitch and I find it more a distraction than a teacher.

    To my point, I like to think I drive pretty safely. My wife and friends have remarked that they’ve felt unsafe at times, but that is because I drive aggressively.

    I aggressively stick to the speed limit and get annoyed when people either drive too slowly or speed.

    I may take some corners or round-abouts a little too quickly sometimes, but only when I know that nobody is around – I don’t drive aggressively like that when anybody else is around.

    But, it’s time to change. I’ll be a little more conservative with my driving, easing off the corners and roundabouts and being a little bit more relaxed in my pursuit of sticking to the speed limit.

    As for going downhill behind other cars? I’m going to be leaving the most ridiculous gap between me and the one in front of me from now on…

  3. 2. No matter how confident you may be, your car and the conditions may not react as quickly as you.
  4. My car locked up, plain and simple.

    I’ve been over it a thousand times in my mind but there was nothing else I could have done. At that speed and especially going downhill, there was nothing else for it.

    Even though the road was completely dry and there was nothing on it (debris, oil, etc.) and even though my car is only a year old, I couldn’t stop.

    Even though I reacted as soon as I saw the brake lights fly on in front of me, it was still too late for my car to stop in time.

    The conditions may have been prime driving conditions with little-to-no real hazards, the speed and downhill slope just added the extra element which led to my not being able to stop in time.

    Drive to the conditions is something I live by, but I’ll be ever more aware of them from now on.

  5. 3. Comprehensive insurance is the best investment a motorist can have.
  6. One of the scariest moments for me was thinking that I only had “third party insurance”, which would have meant that all the other cars would have been covered but mine wouldn’t have been.

    See, the only cars I’ve ever owned were shit boxes that weren’t worth putting comprehensive insurance onto (even though I wouldn’t have been able to afford it anyway!) – I still wasn’t used to owning a new car, despite it being only just over a year old!

    Comprehensive insurance meant that my “excess” that I had to pay was all I would have to pay, even if the other drivers decided that they wanted me to pay for their repairs.

    As soon as I found this out, I relaxed a little. It meant that my car would be fixed and that I wouldn’t have to worry about the other drivers getting angry & demanding money down the track.

  7. 4. Crashing a real car is nothing like crashing a “dodgem car” and the pain sticks around…
  8. Remember going to a carnival or town fair and riding the dodgem cars? If you’re not familiar with “dodgem cars”, you can see some in action here.

    Yeah, well, crashing didn’t feel like that. There was the jerky bounce of the body when the cars impacted but it was much more pronounced and you couldn’t just drive away afterwards.

    Luckily I was seeing the physio the next night and he worked on my back muscles. Almost a week later, however, the back is in pain again and more spread out than before; this isn’t just due to my posture, so I think I may have some lingering issues from the crash.

    Besides, the dodgem cars have huge rubber bands around their outside that helps them avoid doing any real damage to each other – could you imagine what would happen if all road cars had a rubber ring at the same height to help prevent excessive damage in a collision?

  9. 5. I am now certain that I am taking a first aid / CPR course.
  10. After seeing that woman run straight across a corner and into a tree one night and after having my own accident, wherein nobody was hurt but the potential was there, I am convinced that I need to do a first aid course.

    I don’t know how, when or where, but I will be doing a first aid course this year. If I get the chance, I’ll be pushing all the way through it to a senior first aid level.

    This is as much for my own peace of mind in case something like this happens again and somebody needs help and also so that I’m not just some gawking idiot if I witness another accident. I’ll know what to do and can be useful in keeping the scene clear, the people conscious and still until paramedics arrive, at least.