Where Did That Car Come From?

By John Carr, NMA Massachusetts Activist

“Say… what’s a mountain goat doing way up here in a cloud bank?” — Gary Larson, “Far Side”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issues an annual report reminding us that most accidents could not be prevented by driving slower.

A recent police log from my area backs that up. It listed six crashes requiring police response. As I wrote a few months ago, the mundane is a bigger cause of accidents than the spectacular.

1.  A driver stopped to let a pedestrian cross and was rear-ended.

2.  A driver stopped for a red light and was rear ended.

3.  A driver ran a red light and was hit broadside.

4.  A driver slowed to turn left and was rear ended.

5.  A car hydroplaned and hit a utility pole.

6.  A driver in an SUV backed into a parked Lexus.

Incidents 1-4 resulted in noncriminal tickets. The 80 year old who ran a red light also had his license revoked, which is done routinely based on police requests. (Don’t mouth off to a cop in Massachusetts. A bad attitude will earn you a license revocation.)

All of them should result in higher insurance rates. State regulations require your insurance company to blame you if you rear-end somebody, have a single-vehicle accident, or hit a parked car.

Only one of the six involved loss of control. We can’t tell from the accident report whether a hypothetical “reasonable person” would have gone slower, or what speed could have avoided hydroplaning.

Five of the six accidents are the automotive equivalent of “controlled flight into terrain.” Nobody noticed that the autopilot’s altitude hold was off, and then a mountain goat appeared through a break in the clouds ahead.

While you looked to see if that pedestrian was going to walk into your car, the car ahead stopped suddenly. Ninety-nine percent of the time you stop, too. You reached to answer the phone and crossed the centerline. Ninety-nine percent of the time you swerve back immediately.

The other one percent of the time, you get a paragraph in the newspaper. Hopefully in the police log rather than the obituaries.

If you’re a normal person, the odds are police will not call your crash speeding-related.

Perhaps my readership is not made of normal people. If you are reading this while driving 90 mph down a twisty two lane, I wish you’d wait. At least put down your drink so you can have one hand on the wheel.

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