Reader-Submitted Collisions

These are the first responses from  readers answering the question "What happened in your crash? Did it change the way you drive?

Enjoy! Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10      Introduction

I was driving in the middle lane of a 3 lane freeway just out of L.A. I happened to be driving in the blind spot of an older gentleman in Lexus in the slow lane. As I was thinking “I wonder if that old guy checks his blind spot”, sure enough he didn’t check his blind spot and joined me in my lane. To avoid an accident, I honked my horn and moved slightly, straddling the white dots in between the fast lane and the middle lane. Someone in the fast lane came by, going much faster than me, and our fenders scraped. The Lexus was brand new, had no license plates, and continued on down the freeway never realizing what he had done to me. I learned two things from this accident (1) Accelerate or decelerate out of anyone’s blind spot, especially the young or the elderly. (2) The accident was my fault, and my insurance representative suggested that in this situation it would have been better to let myself get hit. Accident avoidance is pretty instinctual, I don’t know that it’s mentally possible to let yourself get hit.

The only accidents I've caused have been three that all occurred while I was reversing out of parking spaces. The most surprising one was when I was reversing out of a diagonal parking space, and another person (who was my doppelganger mirror image) was reversing out of the diagonal parking space right across the street from me. When I'm reversing out of a parking space I tend to look far down the street for cars coming from either direction, and look straight back for something I might run into. But the diagonal doppelganger situation shows that isn't enough. It's also necessary to look near the "blind spots" behind me using head movements and/or side mirrors, to see nearby cars that might start into motion unexpectedly.

I've never run into anything while my car has been moving forward, and I attribute that primarily to leaving a healthy following distance. My pet peeve is people who tailgate in order to indicate they want to pass you. The proper way to indicate you want to pass someone is to flash your lights (while keeping a healthy following distance). I have been considering making bumper stickers like "Flash your lights to pass, tailgate to kiss my [derriere]", or just "flash to pass, or tailgate to crash". Tailgating is threatening act... it puts both the tailgater and the tailgatee in danger for no useful purpose.

Back when I was in high school I went to a private school that required me to drive 30+ minutes each way every day, into the neighboring county. One day my county had called it a snow day but my school was still happening. It was early in the morning and I was rounding a corner on the way in, half-asleep and fiddling with the stereo. When I glanced up I saw I was going a little bit off the road, causing me to panic-jerk the wheel as I passed over some black ice. I couldn't recover and spinning off the road and skidding sideways into a speed limit sign. One tire came off the rim and the dented door refused to open from the outside, and I tend to take my eyes off the road a lot less now.

I've been driving for 15 years, and I've never once been in so much as a fender bender. I've had at least 10 close calls, that involved screeching tires or veering onto the shoulder. I owe it to my catlike reflexes, but also good driving habits. 1) NEVER tailgate. 2) If you speed, make sure somebody is always going faster than you (this helps to keep tickets down, too). 3) When you're on a congested road, pay attention to not only the car in front of you, but also the car in front of it (especially brake lights coming on two cars ahead). 4) This one is common sense, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people pay no attention to it: Your car will handle differently in heavy rain, or snow, or ice. Drive accordingly.

I was in a head-on collision in an intersection so ever since then I close my eyes and tense up before entering an intersection. Everybody I drive around hates this.

In graduate school I was rear-ended by a car that failed to stop when I stopped for a stale yellow light (about to turn red). The guy who rear-ended me expected me to go through and kept going fast, but then had to brake so hard to avoid the crash that his front end was pushing down, resulting in my car resting on top of his hood and my rear bumper against his windshield. Damage to his car was more than mine, although my entire exhaust system was mashed from the crash.

Ultimately, I'm more careful stopping hard at a light, and look right away in the rear view when I do to see whether the car will be able to stop in time. I also tend now to go through a stale yellow light if I see someone hard on my tail in traffic.

Dallas TX

I was headed west on a surface street. A silver Acura was sitting at a stop sign on a cross street waiting for a break in traffic so he could turn left onto my street. I could see him in his car. He was faced away from me - intent on finding his break. I felt so weary when I saw him begin to pull into my lane. He hit me directly on the front right tire.

I don't know that this accident changed the way I drive in any permanent fashion. I know that I was leery of cars parked at stop signs for a while. I have wondered often whether I could have avoided him. It seems in hindsight that I knew what he was going to do long before he did it.

My dad and I were passing a semi in Wisconsin. We weren't hovering in its blind spot or anything, but we weren't particularly zipping around it, either. We were engaged in a conversation about cropdusters when the semi started to drift into our lane. We thought he was just drifting, but then he turned his signal on. He was passing the car in front of him, without even knowing we were there. Dad slammed on the brakes and moved us as far over to the right as we could go without going off into the ditch. The semi never saw us. Its read end knocked off the passenger side mirror, and a rear wheel rubbed up against the door, rubbing off some paint. I was incredibly shaken up, as the semi had made contact about a foot from where I was inside the car. The semi never noticed he hit us, and continued on. All the cars behind us slowed down because they had seen what happened. It's definitely changed the way I drive. Whenever I pass a semi now, I absolutely whip around it. I can't handle looking out the window and seeing the big tires right next to me.

The people in front of me had their car in park, so their brake lights weren't on. Unfortunately, I had decided to change the CD in my car and didn't see that they were "parked" in front of me. Ooops.

I was distracted by Veronica Mars; no more multitasking.

I wasn't the one driving, but it is still an interesting story:
I was in the passenger seat as my brother was driving. It was winter, so the roads were rather icy. My brother was eating KFC, talking on his cell phone, and thought we were in four wheel drive. We weren't. As we headed up a hill, we hit an icy patch and went into a fast spin. My brother was talking to my mother on the cell phone, and simply sat quietly, listening to her speak, as he tried to pull us out of our whirlwind of death. Eventually he managed to bring us to a stop in the ditch (right next to a telephone pole) and said calmly, "Mom, I gotta go." He clapped his cell phone shut, turned to me, and went "Holy SHIT." 
I noticed I had dropped my chicken.

Travelling 35 mph on the Interstate in stop and go traffic forced me to buy a new car. I always keep my eye two cars ahead in these situations. There were three car lengths ahead of the Chevy in front of me, then, all of a sudden the Chevy slammed on the brakes even though the vehicle had plenty of room to slow to a crawl. I slammed on my brakes narrowly missing the rear bumper. Phew! Then, WHAM! a Ford F250 slammed into my rear bumper catapulting me forward into the Chevy's bumper. My 1990 Toyota rear truck bed and front engine crush zones were, well, crushed. The F250 driver got out of his truck still talking on his cellphone. He examined his slightly dented bumper and kicked it back into place. He waited for the police and took off to enjoy a few drinks with his buds. The Chevy driver in front barely felt the bump. They were renting the Chevy on a vacation from Florida. The Chevy's damage amounted to a barely noticeable dented rear license plate. Perhaps my next vehicle will be a F350. I have to protect myself from those cellphone wielding 18 wheelers!

I was driving to work in morning rush hour traffic. I, too, noticed that the car in front of me began to suddenly and rapidly grow in size. I slammed on my brakes, only to find the car behind me *also* growing in size. I slammed on the gas quickly enough to avoid any major damage. I subsequently pocketed the $400.00+ insurance check. Extraordinary cost, indeed. 

total bosses car pulling into traffic

Oneo of my best friends as a teenager lived down a dirt road (in New Mexico, this is not so uncommon). I was following her down it one day, and her car is better at handling the turns on the dirt (I think because it's lower, but I'm no expert on this), so she was going faster than I should have. I slid and went off the road. Thankfully, there were just some pinon trees on a small hill, so I just swerved farther up the hill to miss to one I was about to smash into. I sided up against one and took my passenger mirror off, though. And there is still a piece of wood embedded in my front bumper, which I refuse to take out because it adds some natural flavor to my Subaru.

I was leaving a movie one night, and behind a white VW bug (the new kind) trying to turn right out of the parking lot. They were rolling forward ridiculously slowly, so I rolled forward a little too. They were rolling so slowly that I didn't notice when they stopped, and tapped her back bumper. Of course, it was so light that hardly anyone in either car noticed. She got out of her car, inspected her bumper (neither car had even dents in the dust on the bumpers), glared at me and got back in her car. I had to turn the same way they did, so I ended up behind them at the next stoplight. The 5 people in the car were probably in their 40s, and the 3 people in mine were all around 16 or 17. Every one of them turned around and flipped me off. That is the only reason I even really remember this incident, because they acted like such children.

Someone I know (who shall remain nameless) was driving to school one morning, facing into the sun (hence mostly blinded, and should have been going slowly) while at the same time applying makeup. So she wasn't watching the road, and had she been watching, she probably couldn't have seen what was happening soon enough to react (especially considering that I have never once seen this person stop soon enough for a red light, every single time she is at least 4 feet into the intersection). Anyway, there was a stop sign, and a person in front of her stopped at this sign. She slammed right into them, they flew into the intersection and hit another car, which (if memory serves) hit another car. All this for some mascara that could have been applied in 10 seconds in the parking lot.

The only big accident (other than small bumps) I've ever had was in my freshman year at Shepherd College in West Virginia. Thankfully, nobody else was involved. It was October, and it was raining. I was leaving the Frank arts Center via the little twisty road that comes out accross the street from Sheetz. I was driving pretty slow (maybe 15), and looked down to adjust the radio, or heat, I'm not sure. When I looked up, I realized that I was coming into a turn kind of steeply, so I cut the wheel and put on the brakes. Unfortunately, the road was both wet and oily, and I skidded into the curb, which was unusually high (this was also before they installed the speed bumps, so there was nothing to stop me). The high curb scraped the heck out of my suspension and transmission. Technically, the car could have been fixed, but it was cheaper to just buy another used car. I kept a piece of the curb which broke off and use it for a paperweight.

I was playing tennis at my school. I heard a loud screech and a crash. The car parked next to me had tried to back out while another car was speeding around the parking lot, and the backing out car was pushed into mine. I learned to park further away from the destination-- I can walk a bit further to keep my car out of high density areas.

I was driving on a rain slicked street and the car ahead of me made a right turn. The driver didn't allow for the narrow drive she was pulling into and stopped with half of her car still on the street. My truck had ply tires (which are like skis on a wet road) and I skidded (skied) into her rearend. Her car was sitting at a 45 degree angle to mine so I receive a hard diagonal hit on the right front end. Her car had a urethane bumper and looked unharmed. Mine was crunched. A cop probably would have said it was my fault so when she shrugged it off I was happy to leave but when I got home I saw the full extent of the damage. The truck didn't have a dent before and now the whole passenger right side of the front end was bent up. Give yourself alot of braking distance if your driving on ply tires on a wet street.

What happened in your crash? Did it change the way you drive?


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July 22nd, 2006 

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