People will always have attachments to material things that they own especially when it comes to their hobbies. For me one of them would definitely be my car. My car has been with me for about seven and half years now and even now I still love it. I’ve been on some great journeys with it from the first drive around the block, racing up and down the mountains, and even doing a Sydney to Brisbane trip. It has taken quite a bit of punishment over these years but last week was the biggest as I got into my first car accident.
For those who know my driving style or have been in the car with me know how “enthusiastic” I can be when driving, I do at times take a risk. Of course it’s all within a margin of safety as I’m not stupid enough to risk the safety of others, and since I have been driving for just over 10 years, I was quite proud to have not had any car accidents. Life though will through a curveball at you unexpectedly. And that was last week.
What happened was I was driving to a family gathering and to get there I had to pass through one of Sydney’s most congested roadways, Victoria Road. Accidents are always happening around that stretch of road. It was a three lane section of the road and I was in the middle lane. The car in front had suddenly braked as another accident had happened ahead of us and unfortunately I didn’t brake enough thus rear-ending the person who braked suddenly. Thankfully no one from either car was hurt.
As you can see from the pictures the damage itself wasn’t too extensive. The front bumper has been pushed in and cracked in three places, the front grill and headlights have been pushed back with some of the clips holding them broken. Under the bonnet the radiator has also been pushed back and the air-conditioning unit has also been pushed back. The rail above the radiator has also been bent. I would say that at the time of impact I probably hit the car in front at around 20-30km/h. It would have been a lot worse if I had not upgraded my brakes with slotted rotors and high grade brake pads back in 2008.
At the time it felt kind of unreal as this was the first ever car accident I have been in where I was the driver. The first thing I did was check whether my passengers and the other members of the car I hit were OK and they were. It is also at this point that I would exchange details with the driver I had hit but he recommended not to bother as the damage to his car wasn’t bad and he had no insurance. At first I thought it was strange but in the end it works out better for me. Less hassle for me.
Throughout the day it eventually sank in that I had damaged my one and precious car. I replay the scenario in my head to see if there were ways that I could have avoided such an event and there certainly were:
I didn’t brake hard enough.
In the past I have come close to having collisions but my brakes had always saved me. My car has ABS equipped as standard but I hardly ever get them engaged as the stopping power I have with the brakes allows me to not rely on them. Analyzing the situation I realised it was a reflex of mine to do this. So if I braked harder I would have definitely avoided the collision.
Change to the other lanes
One of the things I developed when driving is to have a peripheral awareness of the environment around you. What this means is that as I drive, I take note of the other cars around me whether they are in front, to the sides, or behind me. By doing this it allows me to move around without having to check my blindspots. The moments before the accident I knew there were no cars beside or behind me so I could have changed into either the left or right lane at the time. My mind knew this but my body just didn’t react faster enough to turn the wheel.
In a sense I feel that having to commute to work has dulled my driving reflexes. My job 3 years ago had me driving to work everyday thus it was always a chance to sharpen my driving skills (I was driving up and down the mountains everyday). But now I work in the city and the only method to get there is by taking the train. The sad thing is that I probably won’t get back to the same state as I did 3 years ago.
So in the end I’m glad that no one was hurt in the accident and glad that it wasn’t any worse than what it is now. But by having damaged my car I feel like I’ve damaged a piece of myself. I know that the car can be fixed, it’s already costing me $600 for the insurance excess and $92 for new license plates as one of them fell off, but that isn’t the point. The point is that the fact that I damaged my car will stick with me for a long time and I probably couldn’t forgive myself for doing it. But I’m at least glad that my car is repairable and it didn’t get to the point of being written off and I look forward to when it comes back to me repaired.