Thank you to the person who invented seat belts.

I got rear-ended on my way to work this week in Bradenton, Florida. First accident I’ve been involved with, in several years! In fact, I do not recall the last accident I’ve had, maybe it was twenty or thirty years ago. But thankfully, everyone’s fine.

Here’s what happened:

I was heading south on 9th. For those unfamiliar with Bradenton, this is a four-lane divided highway in a downtown area. My light was green and I was moving straight ahead, through the intersection. I did have to wait a minute before getting all the way across the intersection, as traffic ahead stacks and if you keep going, you may get stuck blocking the intersection, which you do not want!

This is the first traffic light on 9th, just after the Green bridge (by the Hampton Inn). All the locals here know that traffic is stop and go and stacks up all the way across the bridge, every weekday morning.

That’s life when you live in a coastal town, where roads fill up with people going to work, folks (and buses) taking kids to school, and tourists heading to the beach. I had already been cut off from someone in the left lane a few minutes prior, while we were on the bridge too. I don’t get too upset as, “It is what it is.”

Ironically though, 9th and 3rd was where, a year ago, I had failed to make a complete stop before making a “right on red” turn, and I had been mailed a citation for that infraction – keep this in mind. Yes, there is a camera there; no, I didn’t realize the camera was there at that time. (But, now I knew and so did the lady who hit me – but more on this in a minute).

I had been stopped, yes, even on the green light (waiting for space to open up on the other side of the intersection) and just as soon as there was room, I began to proceed straight ahead through the intersection, when a light colored car, came into view from my left, deliberately choosing to make a left turn (from the opposite direction), in front of me – effectively robbing me of my right of way / cutting me off! I had to think quick! Do I gun it and try to miss her, will she stop? Or do I stop? I instinctively chose the conservative option; I stopped.

Then immediately I heard tires squealing and CRASH! I couldn’t believe it! I got hit anyway!

Gal behind me, I’ll call her ‘Mom driver’ rear-ended me. I hadn’t even been looking behind me. Had I been aware of her, maybe I would have chosen the riskier move to try to gun it past ID10T, and see if I could get through the intersection. Had I done that, I might not have been in an accident, but perhaps those two would have crashed.

Mom driver was driving a car and I was in my husband’s truck. I was surprised later to learn that she could see over the truck, and witness the car cutting me off – but she did. Her and her son saw what happened, and her son wrote down the tag of the woman who had cut me off. Great kid, huh? I imagine their conversation:

Mom driver: “Why did she stop?”

Son: “Mom, there’s a car (pointing to the right).”

Mom: “I bet she cut in front of that truck! Let’s follow her.”

They did follow the instigating car. I went straight one block, made a right turn also, and came back around. Unbeknownst to me, the culprit car darted into a parking garage! I call that an evasive move!

Mom driver is now facing me; I had pulled into a parking spot and she had stopped in the middle of street (one block over from where the accident occurred).

I had not seen how bad her car had been crunched before, but as I had approached her on 10th I cringed. The damage was more than I had anticipated from how the crash had felt.

I put my window down and heard her ask, “What should I do, what do I do?” I answered loudly, “Do what you want, but I’d pull over. Your car got the worst of it.” 

We were about a block away from the police station, and several cruisers were beginning to head out. One pulled up, about two cars behind Mom driver, and hit the siren (not knowing why I was walking out into the street and why Mom driver was sitting there, blocking traffic).

Mom driver parks and the police woman takes down our individual stories. At first, I am not close enough to hear what Mom driver tells lady officer, so I walk a bit closer. When it’s my turn, I put my hand on my heart (why? I have no idea) and state emphatically, “I had the right of way. The light had been green.” She said, okay your stories match. A third car made a left turn in front of you?” “Yes, exactly, I had a split second to decide – chance proceeding (because she might not stop and hit me), or stop?” The officer nods in agreement and tells me, “You did the right thing.”

While the officer is writing things up, I walk up to Mom driver (who remained seated in her car the whole time).

She asks me, “Do you know if that garage has an exit on the other side?” “I don’t know, but I’d like to go in and try to find the car.” She explains that her son had written down the tag number, and she had given it to the officer. To my surprise, she asks if her son could go with me, into the parking garage and look for the car. I agreed. I don’t know why I agreed, as what would we have done, had we been confronted by the owner of the car? We did go though, all the way to the top (at least five stories) of the parking garage. We were on the hunt, feeling like detectives. 

Since we had most of the tag number, we thought it would be easy. It’s got to be there – somewhere. Also, since Mom driver had given it to the police woman, she had run the number and told them it came back registered to a Toyota of unknown color. All I knew was the sun had been on the car, and I could not swear to the color. I thought it had been very light blue pearl paint, or white. In  actuality, it was a light silver!

You must know something about me. I hate silver cars, yes, I do! They blend with the concrete highways, sometimes with the sky too, and can’t be seen at all when it’s foggy, etc. Oh, I hate them with a great hate. LOL! Uh-huh. I know it’s silly, but yes, I have quite the disdain for silver cars that can blend out of sight.

After going all the way up and around the garage, checking many similar cars, all either light blue or white, and not finding the culprit, as we approach the only exit of the garage – I spy the tag number. The boy checked it and agreed. This is the car. I also notice that it’s parked in the handicapped parking spot.

By this time, the police lady was approaching us and asked what we were doing. I explained WE had found the car. She checked it, very interested also, that it was in the handicapped spot, yet it did not have a handicap sticker or hangtag. I thought, “Great, at least she’ll get a citation for that!”

The woman who had started this whole fiasco, had left the scene, hid in a parking garage real fast, and left her car. A lady came out to leave, coincidentally, parked right beside this silver Toyota, and told me I could ask inside the building and they’d tell us who’s car it was. But, the officer took care of that. My detective duties were done.

Back with Mom driver, she is upset. Not crying upset, just irritated and frustrated. She was annoyed the officer had not gone into the garage to find the car, and that her son and I had to do it. Had we not went into the garage, we would not have found the car. She probably knew that if we could shift the blame to that person, she might have a better chance with her insurance company. But, that’s pure speculation on my part. Maybe like me, she just wanted to see justice done.

I wasn’t mad at the lady for cutting me off actually. I analyzed the situation ten ways to Sunday. I imagined what might have happened had I sped up to try to get on through the intersection. I even felt a bit guilty that Mom driver was going to be late to get her children to school, because I chose to stop to avoid ID10T, then unwittingly, became a victim in another! Was it just the Universe telling me that one way or another, I was going to be in an accident? I hadn’t been rushing, obviously. I had been taking the slow roll in to work, as I am always early.

Was I meant to meet Mom driver for another reason? Were we connected? Could I help ease her anxiety? I decided it would be a thin line, between speaking with her about her feelings, and listening to her – just allow her to vent.

I thought about how the first thing the lady officer had said to me, when I eased closer to her for her to question me, had been, “Where have I seen that purse before”? Isn’t that funny? Such a question to ask? Maybe she was judging how upset I was. After all, she had probably just heard a lot of emotion from Mom driver. I told her I’d bought the purse at a Farmer’s market. But, I had actually bought it at a First Unity church event; I pondered if perhaps she had gone to the same event. Hmmm.

About a half hour passes and the lady officer passes our accident information to two male officers. One is in training apparently, as the other has to explain who’s right, etc. I noticed one officer had a bit of a stutter. I decided to mentally send him appreciation. The other officer was trying to soak everything in, and I realize their on-the-job training (OJT) is very different from all the OJT I’ve had in my career – and I am thanking God (I’ve had it so easy)!

Eventually, I saw the woman to blame moving her Toyota car, attempting to leave the garage! Ah, not so fast though! Haha I thought! One of the officers walked over to her and got her to pull back into her spot. He talked with her for a few minutes.
When he returned to Mom driver and I, he revealed that this woman said she had NOT seen ANY accident! Well, duh! What else did he think she would say? That she saw it and evaded? Good grief. I wondered, how gullible are these officers? And I thought Mom driver was going to lose it!
She did a good job of holding it together though. She had firmly insisted the woman had to have seen the accident and purposely skirted around the block to hide. The officers listened, but did not think the Toyota driver woman was guilty of anything. They didn’t cite her for turning left in front of me, or leaving the scene (which is a felony in Florida)! They didn’t even cite her for parking in the handicap spot!
Mom driver and I had been talking, me standing beside her crumpled car, and her still seated in the driver’s seat, when the wrongdoer pulled out of the parking garage and left! Mom driver excitedly asked, “Why does she get to leave? Why are we still inconvenienced, and that person gets to go on about her day?”
Finally, one of the two officers expressed that since they did not witness the accident, they would not cite the guilty party, and that is why she was able to leave. I should have said, “Mom driver and I saw her! We’re your two witnesses!” But, I didn’t. The officer just continued to point out he was not going to cite Mom driver! He said in reality, she had either:
  • Been following me too closely
  • Been going too fast
  • Or had not been paying attention to the road
He conveyed calmly to Mom Driver, while pointing to me, “She stopped. If she was able to stop, you should have been able to stop too.”
That was the end of it. The fight was out of Mom driver by that time I think. We knew there would be no fair resolution, at least not something that would truly satisfy us – especially after we went to all the trouble to find the root cause of the situation. The officers gave us back our licenses, insurance cards, and registrations and we all continued with our day. But, I know Mom driver was not happy. And I had a sore neck for a couple days. Ah, but we were all lucky. No airbags deployed. We’d all had our seat belts on – so no injuries. Life goes on.
I kept thinking of a Bob Proctor quote the rest of that day, ““You never die from a snake bite; you can’t be unbitten. You die from what continues to pour through you long after the bite has taken place.”

In the game of truck vs car – truck always wins. But cars and trucks do not care; they don’t have feelings. We do. And I choose to care more about how I feel, than who is right, because I always want to FEEL GOOD.

I send love, care, concern, prayers, and blessings out to all involved. Peace. Let it begin with me.

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