Why Good Drivers Have Accidents

There is no one reason why good drivers have bad accidents. It is a combination of factors. Usually driver error is the reason. What, you say? Aren’t we talking about good drivers? Yes, we are…but good drivers can make mistakes also. It happened to me.

How can that be, you wonder Simple. The fact you have driven for so long without an accident or moving violation could be one cause. It has been said “familiarity breeds danger”. This holds true especially for professional vehicle operators. Over confidence in your driving skills can cause you to become careless.

Are you a professional driver? How many years have you been on the road? How many safe driving award patches do you have sewn on your company jacket…2, 10, maybe 20 year patches?

If this is the case, consider yourself as a gambler and calculate the odds. It stands to reason the longer one is out on the highways the greater chance one will sooner or later be involved in an accident. Say, you’ve been on the road for 20 years or more and have never had so much as a speeding ticket. Fella, you might as well go ahead and paint a big red and white bull’s eye on the side of your vehicle. Even if you don’t hit somebody, somebody is bound to hit you.

A lot of other factors enter the picture also. Weather and driving visibility is one. The shape your vehicle is in as well as highway conditions could also be contributing factors.

Myself, for instance was a professional driver for over 12 years. I drove many different types of vehicles from taxis to 18 wheelers and was never involved in an accident. I had taken virtually every defensive driving and safety class offered. I had the patches to prove it, as well as the big ego.

Then one day it happened. I was driving for a Laidlaw Company, paratransit division in Seattle at the time. Paratransit simply means transporting wheelchair clients, handicapped or terminally ill persons to doctor appointments, etc. It had been a busy day, as they all were. The job requires adhering to a strict, demanding schedule, and you can’t be late. Some of your passengers are heading for Dialysis or other life preserving care. Fortunately, when the accident occurred there was only one passenger on board and we were only two blocks from his destination.

The day was a typical rainy, overcast day in Seattle so visibility wasn’t the best. I stopped at an intersection in a residential area. There was a large tree on the right corner which somewhat hampered my view of oncoming traffic. There was also a dip and a steep incline where other approaching vehicles would be momentarily out of sight.

I correctly looked to the right, left and back to my right again. It was all clear so I slowly moved forward. My lone passenger hollered “LOOK OUT”! I glimpsed a grey midsized car rushing in out of the corner of my right eye and I instinctively hit the brakes. The car struck my front bumper, knocking it loose. I was thrown forward and restrained by a seat belt which I always used. Not only because it was company policy, but I had known too many other drivers who owed their lives to them. Even so, it left a bruise across my chest for a week. The car must have been doing 45 in a 25 mph zone. Later confirmed by where the speedometer became permanently stuck.

I opened the door of my van and saw the front end of the grey car was totaled. Following my training, I checked to see if my passenger was safe and he was. Next, I went to check on the other driver. She was alright but terribly shaken up, as I was also.

I got the accident insurance forms from my van and reported the accident to our dispatcher. In the meantime while waiting for the local police and my company route supervisors to arrive my job was to get insurance information from the other driver. The driver was an elderly lady who was still sitting in her vehicle. I managed to get her to a safer position and asked her to please fill out a small form included in the accident packet.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that”, she replied. I thought to myself we were going to have a trouble maker on our hands. “And why not” I asked becoming perturbed. “Because I left my glasses at home” she said innocently. I guess that left me in the clear. I was not charged at fault in the incident. After all, I’m a good driver!

The point is, even if you are a good, safe driver, others aren’t.

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