Chain reaction car accident

This is now getting to be about two weeks old, but I figure better late than never. I just decided to wait a while before posting the story online, to make sure there aren’t any complications raised by the insurance company of the driver responsible for the accident. But as it seems they’ll pay the car damages, and there also aren’t any new interesting details, I can go ahead with the story.

When the accident occurred I (I, as in the car I was driving) was standing at a traffic light. There were about 5-8 cars in front of me, and already 2-3 (at least) standing behind me. Busy street. The light turned green, and cars started to move.

What usually happens is that the first car starts to move, and the other cars starts off sequentially. As one car moves, the car behind it releases the breaks and get ready to move, then starts to slowly move itself as the car behind it readies itself, and so on. Or actually, now that we have automatic cars, the drivers of a few cars behind the car moving are releasing the breaks, with the first one starting to slowly push the gas pedal to move. A simple dynamic of moving a long line of cars.

But in this case it happened a little differently. In this case while the driver in front of me eased on the brakes, as did I, the driver behind me decided, for whatever reason, to hit the gas and start moving. Never mind that my car was still standing, that the car in front of me was still standing, and that the car in front of it was just starting to move a bit. She hit the gas, and drove the car.

Front side of my car after the crash
And what is the result when one car moves forward, and the car standing in front of it doesn’t? That’s right. Bang. The first time I knew something was wrong was when I felt a strong bang from behind. The second was when I felt a strong bang from the front. You see, my feet was off the brake pedal, so when that car slammed into mine, it pushed mine forward. And in front of mine was standing another car.

The car in front of me, well, it was pushed forward as well. Into the car in front of it. But there the chain ended, since it only got a small bump (I think it was driving already at the time, though I’m not sure), and wasn’t pushed hard enough to hit the car in front of it as well. A nice little 4 car chain reaction accident.

The man driving the car in front of me started yelling straight away. Going over and over saying “what happened?” and “what have you done?”. The women from the car that crashed into me looked stunned and started crying. Somebody, I don’t remember who, made the sensible suggestion that we’ll go to the side, since we were blocking traffic. Since we were indeed blocking traffic, and as this was, as I said, a busy and crowded street, we entered our cars, and moved them (all were working, thankfully) to a parking position on the side.

After parking the car, I started looking for paper. I knew I needed to take all the insurance and personal details of the cars on both ends, so something to write the details on would be needed. Luckily I has some unneeded pages of notes with me, so those were co-opted for the effort. And since I always carry a pen, I was ready to go.

Just a couple of minutes to jot down everyone details, and I could go home, right? Well, wrong. It was a long long event.

First I tried to go to the driver of the car that crashed into me, since they were responsible, and their details were the ones it was most important that I’ll get. As I approached I noticed two women, one young, and one somewhat older. I went to the older one, assuming it was a mother and daughter pair, and told her I want to exchange insurance details. She said to go speak with the other one, since she’s just her friend, and wasn’t driving the car.

The other, younger, women was busy talking on her cellphone, and crying at the same time. I tried to get her attention, but to no avail. So I figured I’ll get the details of the car I got pushed into first, and then return to her.

Rear side of my car after the crash
So I turned around, and saw someone looking at my car and copying the license plate number. I approached him and asked if he’s the driver of the car I crashed into, and he replied that he’s not, he’s the driver of the car that it got pushed into, the first in line. He wasn’t interested in getting any of my insurance details, and I wasn’t interested in his. Our cars didn’t touch, and none of our cars was the one starting the accident, so there was no point to it.

I went on, to the guy driving the car that my own was pushed into. He was there with his wife, and there were a couple of his friends with him standing to the side and inspecting the car. His wife was a little shocked over the accident, so he already called an ambulance to evacuate her, this despite no apparent physical injury at all, and no pain.

He was also quite hysterical himself, shouting at everyone around, going over and over asking what happened, what car started it, and who everyone is. He also yelled at the first in line a lot over the duration, asking how could he have possibly been hit, and what was he doing there. I had to tell him which car I drove about three times, since each time after asking the question he seemed to zone off and go yell at someone else without hearing the reply.

It went like that for the insurance details as well. I went over holding my car registration and insurance details, and told him we need to exchange details. So he shouted at me “Where are you? I want your insurance details! Give me your insurance details already!”. I said fine, and suggested we’ll go to the side to one of the cars, and copy the details. I showed him I was holding my papers, and asked him for his own, since he wasn’t holding them. Then, instead of following me, or leading me, or having anything else to do with me, he just turned around and started to yell in general, or at his friend, or the other driver.

This went like that for 4-5 times, actually. Interspaced by me deciding to leave him to check the crying girl again, in case she finished her phone call. A call to her boyfriend, to whom she was telling about the accident, and crying. Meanwhile the hysterical guy also managed to ask me, several times again, what car started it and who the driver was, each time breaking contact the moment I pointed them out to him, and going to do something else. It was quite outlandish.

Eventually I just went to the crying girl, stood in front of her, and stayed there. After a while she got the hint, and finished the call. Although I think it has more to do with the boyfriend leaving to come over, and less with me bothering her.

She had no idea what details she needed to take and copy from the papers. I pointed out the main highlights for her, and told her to just copy everything. Better to have details she doesn’t need, than not have details she does. First I copied the details from her own papers, though, since she went off again talking to her friend, or over the phone again.

When she returned to copy my details, it turned out she didn’t have a pen with her, so I lent her my own. As I mentioned before, I always carry a pen, having been through plenty of past situations where it would have been good to have one.

I then went on to the hysterical guy again. By this time the ambulance arrived, and they were taking the wife in. I asked one of the paramedics if everything was alright with her, but he didn’t provide any details. I also asked him if there’s a reason to get myself examined given that I feel fine, and if there are any quick tests to see if there was a damage due to the crash. To which he replied that he can’t say and that if I think I want to then I can go to a hospital to get myself examined. I guess they get crash courses on non-committal speaking, and not giving any sort of medical advice, for fear of later lawsuits by people who won’t take it as a rough opinion but as a final medical opinion.

I went to hysterical guy again. After again yelling at me to give him my insurance details and then promptly turning around and going to the ambulance, I decided enough is enough, and this time stayed after him. At long last I eventually managed to hold his attention for enough time, and he took out his car insurance papers. We went to one of the cars, and I started jotting down the numbers and details. I showed him my own papers, but he went off away again.

I tracked him down, returned his paper to him, and he again yelled at me to give him my details. His friend was nearby now, so luckily he just asked him to take the details for him, to which the friend obliged. The friend, by the way, was taking pictures of the cars with a cellphone camera. It seemed obvious that he had no experience with it, since he took multiple pictures, and seemed unable to recall them on the display again.

In any case, the friend proved quite capable of copying details, though again was unsure what details he needs to copy. During the time hysterical guy came over, twice, to tell me to give him his insurance paper back. Each time I reminded him that I already did, and he walked away.

Oh, he and his friend had neither paper nor pen. I agreed to lend my pen again, but could not offer them another paper (I had another page, but the other side was something I could not give to another person). They must have came up with one after rummaging a little in the car, however.

Eventually I had all the details I needed, and things seemed to settle down a little. We noticed that my car had water running under it, which is a worrying sign since it could indicate radiator damage, meaning that driving the car would be unwise. On the other hand, the air conditioner of that car also leaks a lot of water after usage, so I assumed that was the problem, and that I could try to move the car.

In the meantime, the boyfriend of the crying girl arrived. She already gave her details to everyone, so they decided they could drive away. Hysterical guy said that they can’t leave, because he called an ambulance and the police, and it’s an accident with casualties. Which sounds absurd given that everyone seemed physically fine, but once an ambulance has been called then officially there are casualties, and the police needs to come to take details and write a report (All of which I wasn’t sure of at the time, but called a friend more in the know to ask).

The boyfriend replied that he doesn’t know anything about that, that he doesn’t see any casualties, and that in any case they gave all the details so waiting around won’t help anyone. Instead of replying calmly, or giving the explanation I gave above regarding the procedure, hysterical guy just started yelling abuse at him. The phrases were the likes of “Who the heck are you?! Who do you think you are?! You can’t just come here and decide to go! You’re nobody! You’ll wait for the police!” and so on. This obviously did not achieve the desired effect of having everyone waiting. And since I arrived to see them wanting to go, and hear the abuse, I tried to calm things down a little by pointing out that they did leave details, and there really is nothing much to contribute by keeping them there.

In any case the boyfriend was having none of it, and just entered the car, and started to drive. Other than standing in front of the car there wasn’t much anyone could have done, and nobody did that.

After they left, hysterical guy kept switching between yelling that he’ll press charges with the police over a hit-and-run-accident, and yelling at me that I released them to go which is against the law and it’s all my fault. His friend managed to calm him down a bit, and both of us tried to explain that he can’t call it a hit-and-run when she’s obviously gave all her details, and only drove afterwards.

Seeing that they went, and that the police didn’t arrive yet, he decided to go away himself since staying would be futile. So they entered the car, and drove.

At which point I decided going away myself would be a good idea. I entered my car, started the engine, and then noticed a police squad arriving. Great timing. I turned the car off, and went to greet the policeman that got out of it.

He asked me if I’m from the accident reported there. I told him that I was, but that I wasn’t the one who called the police, and wasn’t the one who caused the accident. I gave him the highlights of the story, explaining that everyone else have left. I felt that giving him a detailed report, and have him file an official report, would be pretty pointless given that I’m the only one there, and asked him if he’s interested in the details. He conversed with his dispatch, and told me that he sees no point to it himself. So we said a nice goodbye, and they drove away.

At which point I entered my own car, and finally started to drive back. Fearing the possibility of engine damage, or radiator damage, I turned off everything, and drove without air conditioning.

Guess what? There was radiator damage, though probably not total. The car heated up over the way, and I had to stop down at the side of the road to let the engine cool. Still, it was a slow climb in temperature, and I stopped before the engine temperature gauge redlined, so once it cooled I started it again and repeated. It took just three stops like this, and I managed to get the car home.

Our insurance agency was already closed, it being late Friday noon (Weekend in Israel is Fri-Sat, not Sat-Sun), so there was nothing else to do that day.

[Update: I wrote carburattor instead of radiator. Me idiot. Fixed now.]

In this series (Chain reaction car accident):

  1. Chain reaction car accident
  2. Replacement car

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