Go Back   Team-BHP > Team-BHP > Road Safety > Drive Safe


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 19th February 2018, 20:37   #1
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 305
Thanked: 677 Times
Default Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

It was a nice day in the Spring of 2016, in the month of March. There was no more snow on the streets but the trees lining the road still seemed to claw at their surroundings with their bare branches. If the appearance of the trees wasn't reminder enough that Winter's clutches hadn't fully let go, the air outside my car was cold enough to make me roll up the windows and turn the heating on. Not a soul was to be seen on the sidewalks, as we whizzed past forlorn wooden homes and their porches.

I had just purchased a premium child-seat/stroller combo with the help of my good friend and we were headed home from the supermarket. Connecticut's suburban traffic is known to be sedate when compared to New York City's, Boston's or even New Jersey's frenetic conditions. And a sedate drive it was for us, with me at the wheel of my 2011 Nissan Rogue compact SUV, along a 4 lane road with no divider. The posted speed limit of 35 mph was met by most drivers.

My wife and our 4 month-old baby girl were set to land in NYC the next day and my mind was in a flowery state. I hadn't seen my baby beyond the first month, when I had to fly back to work from Chennai to Hartford, Connecticut. Good times lay ahead. A red light greeted me a few hundred feet away and I stuck to the fast lane that I was in, while rolling to a stop. There were maybe two cars between me and the 'Stop' line. This was a busy 'T'-shaped junction, where vehicles getting off from the busy I-84 interstate highway to East Hartford town had to get into the local road that I was already in.

When trouble hits, it hits hard and fast

While still in the process of rolling to a stop, I noticed an old sedan facing us, waiting patiently to turn across my lane and the other lane next to me, to get into a shopping area's parking lot to my right. I saw a young woman at the wheel and a man in the front passenger seat. There was a mass of humanity in the backseat, but all I could make of them were shadows. While she patiently waited, traffic from the opposite side was getting held up behind her as she was waiting near the junction and the cars behind her in the same lane were delayed, despite having a green light. Cars getting off the I-84 and onto our road were also getting held up behind her at the junction.

So, I did the most kind thing possible. I stopped well ahead of the two cars before me at the red light, I smiled at her and waved her through. Besides, it's a red light ahead of me? Where am I going to go in a hurry?

She was delighted, waved back at me, and across she went to get on with her shopping. Her car was almost inside the shop's parking lot when Bam! A speeding grey sedan appeared out of nowhere next to me in the lane on my right-hand side and slammed into her rear fender. The two cars stopped right there, where I could see them through my passenger-side window. My heart stopped too.

This is a Google streetview grab of the exact spot:

Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!-accident.png

I had forgotten to thoroughly check that there was no oncoming traffic in the lane next to mine, before waving her through!

Run baby, run!

Time stood still around us, literally at first and then in my mind. No airbags had deployed in either car. The formerly thankful lady got out of her driver's seat and rushed to the backdoor. The light turned green ahead and I found my foot flooring the accelerator. I also had trouble breathing and i could weirdly feel every single heartbeat. I had no idea why I was doing whatever I was doing, but it reluctantly felt like the right thing to do.

My mind quickly went back to the precise moment when I had waved her through - I recalled that I had a cursory awareness of my surroundings at that point. I knew roughly that the coast was clear, but hadn't explicitly checked my rearview mirrors to confirm the same.

I heard a quavering voice next to me - "Oh man, there's a baby in the backseat!". My friend was feeling mixed emotions as well, apparently. He was looking back at the scene, craning his neck.

As I pulled away from the scene, I checked my rearview mirror. Did somebody record the damned thing on their dashcam? Why the hell was I running away from the scene? It's not like I was at fault, or was I?

"You go on now...best to get home. There's nothing to be done, nor was it your fault." It was like my friend had read my mind.

I swore loudly for quite some time as my friend comforted me me to no end. Home was a mere 3 miles away, reached at a healthy 35 mph. But it was my drive of shame and every other motorist seemed to disapprove of me. At least, that's what I imagined.

As my friend got off the car and walked to his home across the road from mine, I thought I saw him shaking his head in disappointment.

This prancing pony can't be kept indoors

At home, I was all charged up. I had had a busy week as it was, with baby-proofing the home before wifey arrived with our bundle of joy. I still had endless chores to perform before the day ended. Early next morning, I was supposed to drive though 120 miles of hectic traffic to JFK International Airport.

Yet, here I was. I was checking the local news on TV and on websites for any mention of this accident and I was having visions of a police case and getting deported in a container ship. Thinking back, this was probably the time when I made up my mind to come back to India. In any case, while even an 'At-fault' auto accident is hardly a case to have a bearing on my immigration status, fleeing a scene when you caused an accident is most certainly a criminal case - and sufficient grounds for deportation. I was convinced that I was done for. Fleeing from the scene is clearly what rankled me the most.

Part of the reason I scooted from the scene was that I couldn't bear the thought of yet more things to do (stay at the scene, provide inputs to the police as a witness or party to the accident etc.) when I had a big thing weighing on my shoulders already. Having a baby over in an alien place with a minimal support system does inspire some panic in a normally calm guy like me, apparently. I somehow had a notion at the time that if I had gotten involved by staying back at the scene, my family would suffer the next day (Not true at all!)

Anyway, I called up a very wise friend of mine. He listened and then quickly discussed this with his wiser wife. I insisted on going back to the scene and 'surrendering' to the police. It had only been 30 minutes now. The advice I received from the blessed wise couple was to stay put since it wasn't my fault. I refused to believe them.

Inexorably, 5 minutes later, I was at the scene again. The two damaged cars were parked away in a corner of the parking lot, with none of the people involved anywhere about. All courage eluded me again and I fled, yet again.

Karma visits, but sanity prevails

Roughly a year and few months later, in the fall of 2017, I found myself in that unfortunate lady's exact same position. I was pulling out of my apartment's driveway onto a busy 4-laned local road with no divider. The picture below shows the exact spot:

Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!-accident-3.png

50 feet to the right of the exit, as seen in the pic, there's a red light. So quite often, while pulling out of my apartment's driveway, I would be confronted by a wall of cars in two lanes that are waiting to clear a red light. I'm cool with waiting it out.

But there was one kindred soul one fine day, who decided - just like I did that day in March 2016 - to give me some space so that I can make a move while she was waiting anyways for a red light. Here's an algorithmic depiction of how things unfolded in the space of 30 seconds:

1) She waved at me to go on past her.
2) I hesitated since I couldn't see past her, if there were any oncoming vehicles in the lane next to her.
3) She insisted with a frantic hand.
4) I said 'No' by gesticulating as much.
5) She was aghast! She gesticulated even more furiously at me with a squint in her face.
6) As I doubtfully stood my ground, a formerly unseen 5 tonne Ford F-350 pickup truck roared by in the lane next to hers, to stop 50 feet away for the red light. The guy must have been doing 50 mph (it was a 35 mph zone) and was equivalent to a railway locomotive for all purposes.
7) Thankfully, the damned light went green.
8) The lady nodded away in disappointment and drove on.

Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!-accident-2.png

I eventually pulled out of the driveway when traffic allowed me to and drove on to buy some stuff (can't remember what) for my now 15 month-old kid from the pharmacy down the road.

The legal moral of my two stories

It was at that moment in 2017 that I realized why the wise couple and my friend were indeed right - I wasn't (legally) at fault back then indeed. Ideally, I ought to have checked my rear mirror before offering the lady space to pass in front of me. But then again, the onus was on her to ascertain that it was safe to take up the offer.

Just because someone extends their kindness in traffic, it doesn't mean you throw caution to the wind and jump in.

Even if I'd been hit by the pickup truck in 2017 and survived, I wouldn't have pressed charges against the lady who waved me through. I understood this tough equation fully well at that moment, as things had come a full circle.

Besides, I have always suspected that the sedan that hit the lady's car was overspeeding, as was the pickup truck that could have hit me in front of my apartment.

"Oops, I did it again!"

In January 2018, I was driving from Medavakkam to Kovilambakkam in Chennai in a borrowed Swift hatchback. My dad was in the front passenger seat. As I stopped for a MTC bus ahead of me, I noticed a young couple waiting to cross the road. As the bus pulled away ahead of me, the cherubic angel in me waved at them to cross the road. I meanwhile stayed on top of the brakes and held the traffic at my back. As they walked by, a couple of quick two wheelers whizzed by in the gaps, nearly a feet away from them, but thankfully they were well-prepared for it. They walked away unscathed and as we started moving again, my angry dad scolded me - You could have killed them with your kindness. Why can't you just look after your own welfare? Let people look out for themselves.

A confession

I feel like a dumb guy or something for doing the same damned thing over and over again. The thing is, I am a thoughtful guy by nature. I like to give people a chance. I was always notorious in my family for being a mild driver. I hardly ever honk and I yield to aggressive drivers and so on. I don't know why I instinctively give people needless guarantees to pass or cross. My politeness is writing cheques on the road that reality can't encash, to borrow from 'Top Gun'. I am truly sorry, dear world.

Note
The point in sharing these stories of mine is to spread awareness of a likelihood that may occur to you. If you feel any contempt at me, please note - as Jim Carrey's character said in the movie 'Liar, liar' - "I hold myself in contempt!"

Name:  unnamed.gif
Views: 1633
Size:  1.04 MB

Fleeing from the scene is just not done. Despicable me.

PS
Nicholas Nassim Taleb is out with a book describing his theory 'Skin in the game'. My incidents teach us the same thing which he propounds in the book - if it were I who had to cross a lane or two of traffic, i'd be doubly careful about it, since I have sufficient skin in the game. But when waving someone else through, it is entirely possible that I may be inadvertently lax about whether or not it is safe for someone else to pass through. It's because I won't have enough skin in the game!

Last edited by locusjag : 14th March 2018 at 14:10. Reason: Additions
locusjag is offline   (27) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 14th March 2018, 15:01   #2
SDP
Team-BHP Support
 
SDP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 3,926
Thanked: 8,568 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!
SDP is offline   (3) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 14th March 2018, 19:51   #3
Senior - BHPian
 
amitoj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Nashua, NH
Posts: 3,015
Thanked: 1,725 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Thanks for sharing your experiences!

I noticed that in both cases, first one where you allowed the lady to cross and second one where you were getting out of your apartment, the road is marked with double yellow lines. So, you are right in being extra cautious when making such a turn. And the young girl was at fault for not checking whether her path was clear or not. Crossing double yellow means taking double caution.

I also come across similar situations often. However, my approach is slightly different. If there is room in front of me so that the waiting car can pass after I have cleared their path, then I go ahead even if the traffic light up ahead is red. This way, it gives them clear line of sight to cross the road. Perhaps that is what you should consider as well?
amitoj is offline   (5) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 14th March 2018, 20:12   #4
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 305
Thanked: 677 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
I also come across similar situations often. However, my approach is slightly different. If there is room in front of me so that the waiting car can pass after I have cleared their path, then I go ahead even if the traffic light up ahead is red. This way, it gives them clear line of sight to cross the road. Perhaps that is what you should consider as well?
That is a brilliant point and it makes total sense to me now! Thank you sir
locusjag is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th March 2018, 09:23   #5
SDP
Team-BHP Support
 
SDP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 3,926
Thanked: 8,568 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
...Crossing double yellow means taking double caution.
...
Are you sure about that?
I have always understood double yellow lines as no-passing zone, in both directions i.e. vehicles in both directions can not use the opposite lane (oncoming lane) to pass/overtake.

Since we are on the topic, let me share my views about what should have happened.

In the first case, since there is a double solid yellow line, the lady should NOT have taken the left turn there at all (which would need crossing the double solid yellow line). She should have gone straight, till she finds a U turn opportunity and then traced the road back to the shopping area.

Ditto in the 2nd case when OP was trying to exit his apartment driveway. To the best of my understanding, he should have taken the right (exactly like the black sedan seen in the pic) and then taken a U turn (at the next opportunity) to go left.

I have always followed this when I was in US. Let me see if I can find a reference to this in some driver's handbook.

Last edited by SDP : 15th March 2018 at 09:26.
SDP is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th March 2018, 12:02   #6
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 305
Thanked: 677 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Are you sure about that?
I have always understood double yellow lines as no-passing zone, in both directions i.e. vehicles in both directions can not use the opposite lane (oncoming lane) to pass/overtake...

I have always followed this when I was in US. Let me see if I can find a reference to this in some driver's handbook.
The state of Connecticut's driver training handbook doesn't say anything about not crossing when there's a double-line. Besides, it's something that the people of The Constitution State do all the time and there's no traffic tickets issued at all for doing it.

The only mention of the double-line or a single solid line in the handbook is when overtaking is discussed ("passing", in their parlance).

In the state of NJ, I have however seen 'U'-shaped turnabouts (edit: they're called Jughandles) provided on the right-hand side for people who want to turn to the left. Once you go to the right and then left in such a turnabout, you're faced by a traffic light which gets triggered eventually and allows you to cross over and get to the other side.

Pic of a jughandle-

Name:  jughandle.png
Views: 976
Size:  33.2 KB

Last edited by suhaas307 : 15th March 2018 at 16:26. Reason: They're called 'Jughandles'! EDIT: trimming quoted post for improved readability
locusjag is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th March 2018, 15:50   #7
Senior - BHPian
 
amitoj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Nashua, NH
Posts: 3,015
Thanked: 1,725 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Are you sure about that?
Double yellow means no overtaking, but left turns are allowed.
amitoj is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th March 2018, 16:11   #8
SDP
Team-BHP Support
 
SDP's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 3,926
Thanked: 8,568 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
The state of Connecticut's driver training handbook doesn't say anything about not crossing when there's a double-line. Besides, it's something that the people of The Constitution State do all the time and there's no traffic tickets issued at all for doing it.

The only mention of the double-line or a single solid line in the handbook is when overtaking is discussed ("passing", in their parlance).
Quote:
Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
Double yellow means no overtaking, but left turns are allowed.
I looked up Tennessee state Driver's Handbook after my last post and couldn't find anything conclusive about taking left crossing 2 solid yellow lines.

After the 2 of you posted, did some more googling and although there is quite a lot of confusion, it looks like you guys are right.

I guess I was confused about the legality because I have always taken the safer way out, the way I have described.

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/autos...-yellow-lines/

This link refers to Washington Drivers' Handbook. Will look that up later today.
SDP is offline   (2) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 15th March 2018, 16:18   #9
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 305
Thanked: 677 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
I guess I was confused about the legality because I have always taken the safer way out, the way I have described.
Talking about the safer and easier way out - i have often taken a right turn coming out of my erstwhile apartment and then took a U turn within the lesser-used alley (seen to the right of that traffic signal nearby, in my screen-grab of the road). You're absolutely spot-on; taking a left by cutting across multiple lanes of traffic is inherently dangerous, legal or not.
locusjag is offline   (1) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 22nd March 2018, 22:02   #10
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Chennai
Posts: 305
Thanked: 677 Times
Default Re: Accidents can be caused by excessive kindness!

I saw an overtly kind Tata Magic driver almost kill a bunch of female IT employees in Chennai's famed 4-laned IT expressway.

He was in the fast lane, stopped and welcomed the girls to cross the road. I watched in horror from behind as they stopped onto a wall of fast-moving traffic in the left-most lane and were almost made mincemeat of.

Phew!
locusjag is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Honda Activa: Engine idling & stalling issue caused by faulty "O" ring fitment (carburetor) a4anurag Motorbikes 35 26th November 2017 17:15
Mercedes-Benz globally recalls 10 lakh cars. Faulty part has caused 51 fires so far! dZired The Indian Car Scene 4 21st June 2017 09:41
The kindness of a stranger at 2 am....... Foxbat Street Experiences 13 12th September 2012 21:17
Damage caused to your car during service/ repair at a workshop ff1609 The Indian Car Scene 11 6th June 2012 08:22
Travails caused by a fault in my Sumoís alternator. kollamraja Technical Stuff 0 12th June 2010 20:17


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 04:49.

Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks