Saturday, May 24, 2008

Accident Woes: Part One

Dearest readers, I come to you this week not with pent up rage over a particularly irritating social phenomenon, but rather I am going to share a story with you. What is to follow is a long and arduous tale about a boy that got in a car accident and the issues and legal woes that follows. I will try and keep this moderately objective and you can form your own opinion on the matter.

It all begins on a fateful April day, myself, T.J. and Curt were driving down from Owen Sound to Toronto to witness a live performance by ska legend Streetlight Manifesto at the Phoenix concert theatre. All was going well until we hit the portion of Highway 10 in Brampton at around 4:30pm or so and traffic was significantly congested. At approximately 5:15pm I was in the middle lane of three lanes on this highway and passed through an intersection, only to have traffic come to an abrupt halt in front of me. I slammed on the breaks but didn’t have quite enough room to come to a complete stop and ended up rear ending an Accord that had stopped or was close to stopping in this middle lane.

For the sake of objectivity I will not elaborate on the causation of the collision, point is, I was the hitter in this situation, as is the case with rear ending situations it seems. (I will admit to nothing until after December 23).

Since I actually did hit the brakes quite hard the front of my car dipped with forward momentum and went underneath the bumper of the Accord, causing my hood to buckle, grill and radiator to crack, bumped damage and fender damage. No airbags deployed nor did the headlights crack or even stop working. Could this perhaps indicate just how low the impact speed was? Since the hood was crumpled and radiator was cracked we had no choice but to wait for a tow truck to conveniently happen by within five minutes of the collision.

The accord suffered minor cosmetic damage, with scratches and a dent on the rear bumper and the muffler being pushed out of one of its hangers. No airbags deployed either. In my opinion, drivable. In fact, I bet my van is in worse shape normally.

We are now pulled off onto the shoulder of the highway waiting for the police to arrive to fill out an accident report, the lady understandably yells at me a bit but is otherwise pretty calm about matters, all factors considered. Her two daughters who were also with her got out and noted nothing regarding injury, other than being a little shaken up by the matter. No ambulance was called.

Tow trucks swooped in on the scene within mere minutes and began giving us the Torontonian once over. Claiming he somehow knows my insurance policy inside and out and my car has to be stored in Brampton for the night and they’ll fix it here and give me a rental, and so on... This was not the case at all, which took many phone calls with my Mom to get sorted out.

The Police arrive at 6:15-6:20 (over an hour later) to take drivers statements and fill out an accident report. Although we had exchanged few words with the family, all conversation pointed to they said they were all “Okay” and that’s what matters in this situation. The cars are then towed to a nearby gas station where the officer finishes the report and the family has their dad/husband come pick them up. I was deemed “at fault” for the accident and was then issued a ticket for “Careless Driving”- a ticket that is 6 demerit points and a $325 fine.

Meanwhile the family's dad/husband has arrived, and our parting words with the woman revolved around “sorry”, and she again confirmed that they were all fine and all was good, relatively speaking. The dad/husband is busy talking with the tow truck drivers (who had indeed towed the accord) and didn’t appear to be upset regarding the incident. He even went so far as to hand the tow truck drivers his business card (mattress salesman?) and they left.

Myself, T.J. and Curt then had to wait for just over two hours in a nearby Wendy’s/Tim Horton’s for my mom to come and pick us up. All the while I just sat there processing “what in the fuck” had just happened.

My ticket was the main puzzler, as I had always considered careless driving a very serious offense for serious accidents. This is the MTO's breakdown of high point offenses. Somehow I am on par with people who pass stopped school buses and street race.

7 Points –
Failing to remain at the scene of a collision
Failing to stop when signaled/requested by a police officer

6 Points –
Careless Driving
Exceeding the speed limit by 50 km/h or more
Failing to stop for a school bus

Here are 3 quick examples of cases that resulted in Careless Driving Charges being pressed.

1. “A road rage incident in downtown Owen Sound Thursday morning quickly escalated into a chase and a mini smashup derby. The incident ended near an elementary school with both drivers charged under the new stunt driving section of the Highway Traffic Act, along with careless driving and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.”

2. “The most extreme case of the long weekend involved a 17-year-old Barrie driver who was charged with going 239 kph in an 80 zone on Highway 26 north of Barrie. His father's Lincoln was impounded and the youth was charged with street racing, careless driving and failure to surrender his license”

3. “Police say a compact car heading eastbound on East Main Street was attempting to make a left hand turn on to Moyer Road. The vehicles collided and the man was thrown from the bike. The sole occupant of the car, a 34-year-old Port Colborne woman, was unhurt.
Police say Catherine Bowen has been charged with careless driving”

You can decide if I’m really a “careless driver” after reading those particular incidents.

If convicted my insurance rate will go up by 480%, from $2500 per year to a whopping $12,000 a year. I, of course had no choice but to fight this ticket. The catch to that is, you have fifteen days to file for a court date, and the kicker is I have to drive down to Mississauga to file in person, whilst the court houses hours are 9am-12pm and 2pm-3:45pm only on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Leaving a rather inconvenient window to arrive in. A rather clever structure built specifically so that people become deterred from fighting tickets, thus garnering more money for the province. Fuck.

After driving for two hours, standing in line for ten minutes and driving back home I have my date booked. Wish me luck on December 23rd, 2008 at 10:30am as I am to plead my case of not guilty of careless driving.

Chapter two will come within a week or two and it will include info about insurance dealings with my car and some further ugliness in the situation.

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