Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Loud BOOM on July 4th...

Danny was working overnight on July 4th. Around 11pm, I was enjoying a quiet evening at home with Mason when I heard a huge bang from the street. For a split second, I thought it was a large fire cracker, but then the screeching tires and honking horn made me realize it was an auto accident in progress.


I called 911, headed outside and saw the following: my neighbor’s minivan, which was parked in front of my house, had been pushed off the street onto my next door neighbor’s lawn. The rear was caved in (especially on the left side) and the back gate had been forced open to the extent that the spare tire had fallen out. 


A Honda Civic SI was on the median, the airbags deployed, the front end smashed. From where the van had been parked to the median was a wet trail on the pavement. 


A Subaru station wagon was in the left lane, with a medium sized dent on the front.


Apparently, what happened was the driver of the Civic was going about 50mph in the right lane. He saw the minivan late and went to change lanes – cutting off the Subaru. But he still hit the minivan, pushing it over the curb onto my neighbor’s lawn. The Civic veered onto the median while the Subaru driver slammed on his breaks.


People routinely drive too fast on South Belvoir Boulevard, and since it’s a curving road, visibility can be a problem. The speed limit is 35mph, but it should really be 25 or at the most, 30. Belvoir is not mixed use, it is entirely residential. 


Within seconds of my calling, a police car was on the scene. Within moments an ambulance and more cars joined them. While an officer redirected traffic back toward Elmwood and blocked off our section of Belvoir, the other officers were checking on the vehicle occupants. It became obvious that the driver of the Civic, a young man who stated he was 20 but looked younger, was at fault. Two officers performed a sobriety check in my driveway, and the young man was clearly impaired. I heard him admit to the officers that he had consumed five beers. (I outweigh this kid by at least 60 pounds, and five beers would leave me falling down drunk.) The young man was taken away in handcuffs. His passenger had a small cut on his arm and was allowed to leave when his father arrived. The occupants of the Subaru were shaken but unhurt. Fortunately, the minivan was not occupied – as there could have easily been serious injuries or worse.  


I helped my neighbor empty her belongings from her minivan before the tow truck came to haul it away. 


Now there is a lot to learn about responsibility from this accident. But one thing struck me, and I saw it often in my four years as a call center representative for Progressive. What kinds of parents buy their kids sports cars? This was no ordinary Civic, this was the high end, tuned up, sporty version. (You’d be amazed at the number of teenagers driving 8-cylinder Mustangs or Camaros, by the way.) Is it any surprise that insurance rates for young drivers (particularly young male drivers) are so high? 


Not to sound like Grumpy Old Man, but when I was a teen, most of my peers didn’t even have their own cars – they used their parents’ cars. If they were lucky, they’d have an old used beater – which they’d worked a part time job to buy.


I don’t know who this kid is, but I’d wager his parents bought the car when he passed his classes. In a way, he’s also a victim because his parents haven’t taught him responsibility.


But he’s going to learn about it now.     

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