Just in case you were thinking that this blog is going to be a collection of saccharine true-isms - well, to be honest there is a bit of a risk of that, but I am trying to minimize the schmaltz.
Ultimately, the intent for this blog is for it to be filled with a collection of interesting factoids, snippets of humour and well intentioned (albeit occasionally rambling) anecdotes that help bring the lessons home.
Therefore, an important corollary of Lesson 1.1 is that just because you're a good driver doesn't mean everyone else on the road is (Lesson 1.1.1). I learned this lesson the hard way a year ago (almost to the day) when a 4 wheel drive decided he was bored with the conventions of Australian road rules, and decided to drive in the right hand lane for a while.
Unfortunately, I was already in it at the time. And although my car started off as a compact car, it ended up rather more compact afterwards.
Luckily for me, the car had good brakes (although the brake fluid ended up in a puddle on the road, along with the coolant and battery acid), airbags (that deployed as they should have), and insurance (that paid out in full as I was found 100% not at fault). I walked away (admittedly from a concertina'd car) with only bruising and a fractured finger from the airbag going off as I was honking the horn.
So, how do I apply this lesson now?
- Always, always, ALWAYS wear a seatbelt!
- Buying a car with the highest possible safety rating (in Australia, that's ANCAP 5 star). It doesn't have to be new, it doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to be expensive - just as safe as possible. Preferably with curtain airbags. (Curtain airbags reduce the likelihood of serious/fatal head and neck injuries by ~60%. When you think about how much money, time and effort has been invested in your head, it's a relatively very small additional cost for hell of a lot of risk minimization)
- I never drive anywhere without a camera and (charged) mobile phone.
- I never drive anywhere without a bottle of water. After an accident, your adrenaline will go through the roof and inhibit the normal cognitive processes - I forgot how to open my car door and I still can't actually remember everything that happened during the accident. Drinking a bottle of water is one way to help overcome the adrenaline surge as quickly as possible.
- I never drive anywhere without insurance (new for old replacement) and roadside assistance. Getting a towtruck is more difficult than you'd think in the middle of the holidays and you do not want to have to pay for a new car when you're recovering from an accident.
- Make sure you take a photograph of the accident (including where your car is on the road), showing
- which side of the road it's on (if you can get the single or double while lines, that's ideal!);
- a photo of the other party's car (including numberplate);
- the other party's face; and
- the other party's ID (the driver gave me a misspelled name that actually belonged to his boss).
xx - S