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My first car accident - I did it wrong.

02 December 2011
Today I dropped Sparrow off at my mom's house and picked Hawk up from work. We were headed to Hawk's work holiday party in Salt Lake. As we drove on the freeway, traffic stalled out just ahead of us. Hawk stopped in time.

The car behind us did not.

The car behind them did not.

The car behind them did not.

The first hit, obviously, was the hardest. Hawk and I both jolted forward and I thought for sure our airbags were going to deploy (they did not.) I heard the squeal of tires behind us and I knew - and then, SLAM. It really makes a noise just like that. I was looking right at Hawk when it happened and his head and neck snapped forward just as mine did. Our car inched slowly toward the car in front of us with each successive hit. Hawk slammed his foot down hard on the brake and I threw our car into "park," grabbing for the parking brake as well. As the second and third car jolts hit, our car got even closer to the one in front of us, but thank goodness, we did not connect.

We took just a moment to breathe and assess. Then I turned around to look at the car behind us.

It seemed there was a huge gap between the car that hit us and, well, us. Like several feet of gap, enough for another car to fit in there. Did the car right behind us hit and drive away? I think this is the most likely explanation, because no way did 3 cars hit us and we go that far forward. In fact, I distinctly remember grabbing the memo pad I keep in my glove box and turning around to get the first car's license plate number, because I was worried he might drive away. That's why I noticed the gap. Odd.

There is a brand new law in Utah that if you are in a fender bender on the freeway, you must get off at the next exit and wait for police help there. You cannot pull off to the shoulders any more. I told Hawk about this and he started off toward the next exit, but when I looked back after a moment, no one else from that lane was moving. So we pulled off onto the shoulder and waited, but by that point we had made it far enough that it was hard to see where we had been. It was also very dark at this point.

I got out of the car and checked the back. Miraculously, there was no visible damage. None. I couldn't believe it. There may be a few chips to the paint, and there may be damage that we can't see, but right now I would like to publicly thank Toyota for making their cars out of AWESOME and not using cheap-o plastic bumpers.

We waited on the shoulder for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to do. We couldn't see anyone else pulling off. It looked like traffic was slowed at that area, but we couldn't really tell, and if it was, how were we supposed to get back there? Back up on the freeway? Get off the freeway and circle back around to it? I realize now that we should have just waited there instead of starting to exit, but the new law was fresh in my mind and I was scared.

And I really think that the car that hit us first had driven off immediately after the accident, when we were breathing and checking to make sure our lives were still intact.

And we didn't hit the car in front of us, and there was no damage to our car, so...

We drove off (and made it to the work party on time, no less. Though I had Hawk take me home halfway through.)

I am terrified that we did the wrong thing. I know we did the wrong thing, and now it cannot be fixed, and I am scared. I'm scared because my head, neck and back are killing me and Hawk's back is bothering him. I'm scared because Sparrow very easily could have been in that car with us, and who knows how this would have affected him. I'm scared because every time Hawk has a work party, I get injured (last year we went ice skating and I got a concussion.) I'm worried for the people behind us that were sandwiched in there. I'm worried because I really don't know exactly what happened, and I have been thinking weirdly all evening. I just don't even know what to do. Except I'm not going to write about it any more, because I'm shaking too hard to type now.

So that was my first car accident. And I did everything all wrong. And I blame the stupid new law because I was too scared and fixated on getting off the freeway to stop and figure out what to do.

5 comments to My first car accident - I did it wrong.:

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

First of all, I'm glad you're okay.

Next, you both need to go to the doctor and have your necks and backs checked -- STAT!

K La said...

The important thing is that you guys are ok.

What you did was not illegal because YOU didn't hit anyone. Had you hit the car in front of you when you were hit, THAT would be illegal, but since you didn't hit anyone, leaving the scene was not illegal, so stop being scared.

Now, did you call the Police? Did you know that if you get rear-ended, no matter how, you are NEVER at fault? So if you called the police and got, they would give you the other person's insurance and they would pay for everything, deductible, medical bills, new car seat since I assume it was in the car, any damage you can't see...

Did you call your insurance? If you have the right coverage, they will pay for everything (MEDICAL BILLS! YOU MUST GO TO A DR!!) minus your deducible. And NO your monthly payments will not go up. So, srsly, call them. Right now. It's not too late to call your insurance. And go to a doctor. Not kidding.

Raleigh Crowl said...

Well said, K La! Ultimately, it’s your safety that matters the most. You remind me of my sister. That’s exactly what happened to her but instead of calling the insurance company, she phoned her attorney first. She said it would be practical to have a professional lawyer to easily process her insurance claim. Anyway, stay safe! :]

- Raleigh Crowl

Cristy Witherspoon said...

We all learn from our mistakes. Besides, I don’t think you are at fault here since you were just following the law. I wish that this doesn’t happen to you ever again, but in case it DOES, you now know that you have to keep calm and keep things in control. That’ll give you a clear head on what to do next to sort the issue.

Cristy Witherspoon

Amy Baron said...

Thankfully, the impact of those cars’ hit behind you wasn’t so hard, which left your car unscratched. I don’t think it was your fault, since you stopped on time and those cars behind you did not. They should’ve predicted the traffic ahead of them and slowed down before they stopped.

>Amy Baron