12 May 2010, 11:52am


It happens to the best of us

fender_benderI’m a good driver.  No, really, I am.  I do all the things good drivers do: I try to predict what other motorists are going to do and plan accordingly (and I’m right most of the time, no small feat in this town); I keep an eye far enough down the road so as to see hazards well in advance; I know traffic laws inside-and-out and obey them (OK, except maybe for a few mph over the speed limit); I yield the right-of-way to bozos who aren’t paying attention or just don’t care; and so on.  But last Friday I did something I’ve seen dozens of others do and something that I’m usually very aware of and am careful to avoid, and the result was a lovely fender bender. 

Of course, the first question folks ask is if anyone was hurt.  Fortunately, everyone was fine– in fact, the airbags didn’t even deploy.  So the next question, then, is what happened?

What happened to me has probably happened to most motorists at one time or another.  I was making a right turn and there was a vehicle stopped in front of me waiting for a gap in the traffic.  A gap came along and the vehicle in front of me started moving forward, so I started looking back for a gap to merge into.  When a break came along a few seconds later, I started to accelerate only to realize that the car in front of me didn’t actually go when I thought they did.  I hit the brakes hard but it was already too late.  BAM!

Of course, the way to avoid this is to always look forward again at where you’re going before you start to accelerate, not only to make sure the preceding vehicle has cleared, but also to make sure that another previously unseen vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, UFO, or whatnot hasn’t suddenly appeared in your path.  I usually do this, but this time I was in a hurry and, as a result, was a little careless. 

So hopefully my story will help someone else avoid this all-too-common traffic mistake and the unfortunate results it can bring.


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