Amy Tries Again

My First Car Accident
January 23, 2011, 7:53 PM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again

This driving thing is harder than it looks.

After the floods delayed my plans to get back behind the wheel, I had another go today. It was the first time in years, and I was quite excited. My venerable sensei was my mother’s partner, Peter the Surly Dermatologist. (Remind me to tell you their unlikely old people love story sometime, it’s quite sweet.) Peter is a gruff, sarcastic old thing with a fondness for inappropriate jokes. I do a really good impersonation of him, but sadly I can’t do the voice over the internet. Also, you probably don’t know him. He’s a good egg, and what made him the ideal choice to be my teacher is the fact that he happens to drive an automatic. As my previous attempts involved manual cars, and a rather unimpressive success rate, I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be a driving purist, and embraced the easy option.

Hang on, did I say easy option? Peter drives an enormous tank of a 4WD. Just getting into the driver’s seat felt wrong. I mean, it probably would have felt wrong anyway, given that I had spent the majority of my life on the passenger side – but I was very high up indeed. The car seemed too wide. I wasn’t used to this. Lights and buttons were flashing at me. Okay. Deep breaths.

I took a quick refresher course on the important things (the brake is the big pedal!), adjusted the seat and the mirrors, and we were off. We drove around the streets of West End, near the river. This was weird. I’d never driven where people were before – any previous attempts had been in (after hours) industrial areas or similar. This was different. There were joggers, buses, bikes – I was basically inside the examples on the Queensland Transport website. I couldn’t do this. Nonsense, declared Peter. Okay then.

He’s a good teacher. It didn’t feel normal (how could it? I was driving a freaking car) but it became less and less weird very quickly. It was even a bit fun. This automatic thing was a good choice. I wasn’t busy worrying how to make the car go, so was able to actually drive it around. Peter told me a (frankly quite unsubstantiated) tale about London cabbies balancing a pint of beer on the dashboard and being able to stop suddenly without spilling a drop. I was not quite at that point, but the car wasn’t making any of the great shuddering leaps I had anticipated, so I was fairly pleased with myself.

The whole thing was quite surreal. I was in a car, going down a normal street. This had happened to me countless times before. This time, however, I was actually in charge of the very grown-up business of steering, braking and accelerating. Things were going well. I felt it was not only possible that I could learn to drive like a real adult, but actually likely. We did several laps of the same route, and my confidence grew.

Then it happened. As I drew close to a stop sign, the light turned orange.

‘I should stop, shouldn’t I?’
‘Grumph harrumph.’ (That’s Grumpy Old Man for ‘Yes Amy, I believe that would be the appropriate course of action at this time’.)

I stopped. The car behind me didn’t.

It wasn’t scary at all. There was a noise, and a solid sort of thud. The tank had taken almost no damage, but the small car behind wasn’t so lucky. The driver was fine, but one side of his bonnet was crumpled. Fuck. The small amount of cool motoring composure I’d scraped together in the previous 20 minutes fled. Peter went to talk to the man, and I burst into tears. Some joggers asked if I was okay.

The other car (‘hrumph bloody little coke can masquerading as a vehicle garrumph hrrrrr’) was still driveable. Its driver was not happy, but I was too scared to face him. Peter and the joggers argued with the man about exactly what had happened, and I took some relief in the fact that apparently I actually hadn’t done anything wrong. The other driver had been following too closely, and had been lighting a cigarette when I stopped (rather ungracefully) at the lights. It was cold comfort. The whole experience had me overwhelmed. When insurance details had been exchanged (the other driver eyeing Peter’s admittedly completely terrible SKIN-DR vanity plates with great suspicion) something was harrumphed in my direction about getting back on the horse. No. Not today.

We retired to my mother’s house, where I was fussed over and given cups of tea. My sister gave me a six-chambered Nerf suction cap gun (apparently the jar of pickles she’d given me at Christmas was just a placeholder gift), which cheered me up no end, and Peter attempted to express his sympathy by presenting me with a large bag of expired Cetaphil samples.

Armed and non-comodegenic.

I’m trying to think of the whole experience as a gritty reboot of my driving education. Part of me wants to resign myself to passengerhood and stop my efforts. Still, I suppose an accident was inevitable. It wasn’t too bad, really. Nobody was hurt, and whatever happens now, I won’t be waiting for that first prang.

Driving, you haven’t seen the last of me. Just you wait until next weekend.


7 Comments so far
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Pretty much any collision from behind is not your fault. (Unless you open your door in front of someone in Queensland. The fiend learned from that simple mistake.) Not getting ‘back on the horse’ was a very good idea. When you’re in an accident your adrenalin system kicks in floods your system. Driving like this is apparently very dangerous.

Very pleased you are okay.

Comment by DNABeast

Crikey. Glad you’re OK.

It’s good you stopped and relaxed, but you certainly should drive again relatively soon – not necessarily this week, but don’t leave it a year or anything like that.

No car accident is pleasant, but you and Peter and the other driver are OK, and so you do win. Sort of. 🙂

Comment by GirlClumsy

you want accidents? check out – that was technically my second accident but the first where the car was a write off.

I was forced back behind the wheel the very next day when I had to pickup my mother’s car that was awarded out of a settlement of her Estate – despite every bone in my body just wanting to curl up and never drive again.

The point of my dribble is that you have to keep trying…you cannot simply give up when things get too hard. Everyone other driver on the road is out to get you and most cannot obey simple road rules probably because they’ve changed immediately after obtaining ones licence. This is a fact you just have to accept and everything works out fine.

Comment by LilMissNorti

Glad you’re ok!
Could have been worse, at least you weren’t learning to ride a motorbike.
Drivings like anything, its all about practice practice practice. Reckon you’ll smash it. Ok, maybe not the best choice of phrase there…

Comment by drej08

Thanks everyone! Looking forward to getting back on the proverbial horse.

Comment by Amy

[…] My First Car Accident […]

Pingback by Things I Do Not Like: Driving « Amy Tries Again

Hi Amy how are you? I was also injured in an car accident when my daughter & I were out on Mother’s Day (2012) but thanks to my friend who helps me to file my car accident claim.

Comment by Jamine Glade

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