Friday, January 12, 2007

Smaaaack!

The road that runs in front of my house is a two-lane, winding road that shouldn't be as busy as it is, but a lot of chemical plant workers use it as a route to avoid an even busier four-lane highway east of us. The four-lane highway runs in roughly the same direction, only in a straight line.

There are only two places on the map where those two long roads are connected by shorter ones. The shortest linking road is extremely busy, too, as long lines of plant workers use it to make their way from the winding road to the main road and access to I-10. One end of the shortest linking road is near my house. The other end, a half-mile away, is the scene of a future fatality. Unless a traffic light is installed there soon, it's just a matter of time until someone is killed.

It's nearly impossible to turn left at that T-intersection, because a couple hundred yards to the left is an Interstate 10 exit, spilling a steady flow of cars and trucks down the off-ramp to merge with heavy traffic on the main highway. Traffic has always been a problem at that spot, but the Hurricane-Katrina-induced migration to this area has increased it to a volume our existing roads aren't capable of processing. I almost never attempt to turn left there.

Straight across the main road from the linking road which tees into it is a new McDonald's restaurant. I'd like to go there more than I do (especially during McRib season), but getting across the main road is almost as difficult as turning left onto it. In fact, having the McDonald's at that spot has made the traffic problems worse. Some people will risk their lives for a Big Mac or a Happy Meal.

The safest way to get from the linking road to the main road is a right turn, and even that requires good luck and excellent timing. Yesterday, one of those elements must have been missing.

I waited in the right-turn lane for several minutes for a break in traffic so I could make a quick turn and go back to work after lunch. Just when I thought I could make it, just when I moved forward about five feet, a truck next to me in the left-turn lane pulled out a few feet and came to a screeching halt. I couldn't see around him to see why he was stopping, so I stopped, too, to be safe. Unfortunately, the driver of the pickup truck behind me must have been looking at the screeching truck, too, because he plowed right into my rear end.

We were traveling at such slow speeds that there wasn't any damage except for some of his white paint ending up on my smoke-colored bumper. That and a couple of very tiny scratches. No dents, thank goodness. I think most of the "skidmarks" on my bumper can be polished out. (Tip: A well-maintained coating of dirt and road film apparently provides protection for a vehicle's paint job in the event of a collision.)


The young man who hit me turned out to be a neighbor whose younger brother is a friend and teammate of my grandson. He came out of his truck with his driver's license and insurance documents in his hand (he knew the drill so well I suspect this wasn't his first accident), and the first words out of his mouth were, "Are you okay?" He couldn't have been nicer or more respectful, and I was so happy not to have to deal with a jerk at a time when my nerves were rattled.

We surveyed the damage (none to his truck, just what I've described above to mine) and the injuries (none to either of us) and exchanged identification and insurance company information. We discussed whether we should report the accident to the police. I decided it wasn't worth it, and that seemed more than okey-dokey with him. As a matter of fact, there were sheriff's deputies almost within shouting distance, directing traffic because an existing traffic light had malfunctioned. They appeared to have all they could handle right at that moment, and I was already late to work.

Having worked for an attorney for years, I've often wondered if some people exaggerate their injuries in a rear-end collision. I felt fine at the scene of the accident, but later, near bedtime, I was shocked at how stiff and sore my neck and shoulders were from that tiny jolt. I'm fine today, but it helped me to appreciate that a more severe whiplash injury could do some lasting damage.

Interestingly, my older daughter had an almost identical accident last year, rear-ended as she turned right from the I-10 off ramp just beyond the corner where I had my accident yesterday. She and I talk frequently about the need for a light at that intersection, but I don't know how many collisions will have to happen before we get one.

We were both lucky. Someday someone won't be.

15 comments:

  1. Velvet, we see the same thing where we live. There are many accidents and a couple of deaths before they put up a light, make a round-about, or do anything to improve things. Glad to hear no one was hurt. I love your tip about keeping a 'well-maintained coating of dirt and road film as protection for a vehicle's paint job in the event of a collision'!

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  2. Oh my goodness! I'm glad you're okay and that the well maintained grime saved your paint job. See ya soon!

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  3. Did Kim report her accident? If neither of you reported collisions at that spot, then how do the "powers that be" know that it is accident prone? I'm sure there are many accidents there - but there are probably a LOT more that don't get reported!

    Glad that damage to car was minor - and VERY glad that damage to you was minor, also. That McD - will kill you, one way or another! Have you considered Burger King or Wendy's? ;-)

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  4. Velvet, it was nice of you to give that kid a break...He would have been sited for sure..

    My son Bill had a accident like that when he was 18 years old....Bill was in a 61 ford pick up....you know a moving steel tank. He bumped a newer pickup and bent his rear bumper. The man (around 35 years old) took Bills info and Bill told him he would get a new bumper and install it for the guy. The man did not call the cops...

    One evening the guy drove his truck over to our house and Bill put a new $200 bumper on it....It was about a $700. bumper but Bill worked for a dealer at that time and got a discount... It was very nice of the guy to do that because over 3 years it would have cost Bill thousands more in insurance...I suspect the guy remembers how it was when he was young...

    Since that time me and both of my girls have had young kids tagg the rear of our cars....we let them all off without calling the cops because we all remember when that guy gave Billy a break....

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  5. Velvet, Glad you are OK! I know what you mean about traffic there. I was amazed to see how much traffic has increased post-Katrina. And all the building -roads and housing- going on was mind-boggling. Please be careful!
    Holly

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  6. Another blogger I read, Katie at http://piankay.blogspot.com wrote today about the rear end collision she experienced.

    I'm glad it wasn't worse than it was - also glad your neck appears to be okay.

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  7. Jackie, I guess it's that way everywhere. Sometimes I think politics, rather than than the number of accidents, influences the placement of traffic lights.

    FHG, I'm looking forward to it. If you want to relax when you come over, wear something you won't mind getting yellow dog hair all over.

    Sunflower, you made a very good point about the importance of reporting the accidents. That hadn't even crossed my mind. While our accidents occurred on the "safe" right turns, most of the ones I've seen (shortly after the fact) at that intersection have been more serious collisions in the middle of the road, and the police have been there. If the "powers that be" would just drive down that road one time, especially at rush hour, they'd understand that there's a problem.

    4th Sister, part of me wanted to give the kid a break, and I hope his family will "pay it forward" like yours did. Mostly, though, I just didn't want to hang around to wait for the police and create a bunch of paperwork. I had stuff to do and I wanted to get back to work.

    Creekhiker, isn't it something? I drove into Baton Rouge today, mid-afternoon. Once I got off the interstate, the fastest I could ever move was 20 mph, and that was for a very short stretch.

    Annie, I think I'm just fine. Thanks for the link to Katie; I'll go read about her rear-end collision now.

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  8. Velvet I'm sorry you had to experince that but I'm glad you are ok, hope all the stiffness is gone by now.

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  9. I hate wrecks and hate to hear of
    you being in one.

    A coach from school was watching 3 deer run in a field as he drove down a road inside city limits of Russellville. He said suddenly a deer was coming straight at him through the window. He hit the gas and the deer hit his rear panel. He only had libility and the deer really tore up his truck. He sold it to a guy who may fix it. Out here where I live deer are the cause of most of the auto accidents...not humans.

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  10. Hey there; thanks for vising my blog and commiserating! I'm glad you weren't more seriously injured, too. I pray that the authorities will wake up and install a light where it needs to be!

    I'm still a little sore a few days later...amazing how the body responds to injury, eh?

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  11. OH p.s. I notice you're a reader, too. I'm sure you have book festivals and readings near you in LA but wanted to share the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock--come if you can! April 21-22 I think. www.ArkansasLiteraryFestival.org Frank Warren of postscript.com blogger fame will be there along with some other cool authors. Nikki Giovanni is coming on Friday April 20!

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  12. glad you were not injured and glad the bumb was miner to your car.

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  13. Oh my goodness, that's is scary. there was a three car pile up the other day on the highway. It's always frightening when you're in an accident even if you weren't hurt and the property damage was minimal.

    I was just joking about a guy that almost hit Blossoms beater the other day. I just wrote that entry yesterday about her beater. Accidents are no fun, not even when the car has one tire in junk yard heaven and the other on a banana peel.

    Austin

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  14. Robbin, thanks, I'm doing fine.

    Katie, the Literary Festival sounds nice, but that's a loooong way to go for it. Baton Rouge has an annual Book Festival--nice, but doesn't draw the crowds of the festivals that have more food and beer.

    Patsy, thanks. Except for one rock ding in the windshield, this is the first time my new car has had a scratch on it. Guess it had to happen sooner or later.

    Austin, I read your anecdote about Blossom's car and the truck driver, and it was hiliarious. What a good laugh you gave me!

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  15. I posted a comment but don't see it... wanted to tell you that I'm glad you are okay.

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