Different Reactions To Getting Rear-Ended

Thomas Kreutzer
by Thomas Kreutzer
different reactions to getting rear ended

Yesterday I was out for a walk when I saw an accident happen. It wasn’t a bad one, the driver of a small delivery truck came off the clutch and his rig hopped forward and smacked the back of the small SUV stopped at the light ahead of him. The light changed and the two trucks involved pulled across the intersection and the drivers got out. The driver of the SUV was a well to do looking woman in a business suit and when saw the damage to the back of her car, smashed rear bumper and piece missing from the plastic bumper cover – there may have been other things, but I really wasn’t that close – she absolutely flipped out in the middle of the street. It go so intense that I am sure the sound of her shrill shrieking is still suspended in space somewhere over the city even now.

Last week, I took a trip to antediluvian Toronto and, thanks some massive construction project that left me sitting in traffic for almost three hours, got back to Buffalo just after midnight. My wife was waiting for me in the garage when I rolled in and I could tell from the expression on her face that the conversation wasn’t going to be a good one. Sure enough, while I had been gone, she had managed to strike the front fender of our Ford Freestar against entrance of our garage while she was backing out. The passenger side fender had a pumpkin sized dent and the damage included the headlight, which had broken out of its mounts and now hung by its wires in front of the van’s bumper. Since I take some pride n my vehicles, she assumed I would be quite upset. Oddly, I, a tried and true “car guy” wasn’t upset at all.

Years ago I read Mario Puzo’s The Godfather and this one sentence jumped out at me the moment I read it: There are men in this world who go about demanding to be killed. They argue in gambling games; they jump out of their cars in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender. These people wander through the streets calling out “Kill me, kill me.”

I decided then that I would not be such a person. While it pains me to see one of my vehicles damaged, I understand that these things can be repaired and, so long as no one is seriously hurt, there really isn’t much to be upset about.

The next morning, I wandered out to the garage and took a good look at the Grey Lady’s “red badge of courage.” I unscrewed and pulled back the inner fender lining and with the help of a hammer around the edge of the dent managed to get it popped back out. The body line is still not perfect and the places where I hammered so gently ended up with a few dimples but all in all it looks pretty good considering how bad it was. The headlight was cracked in several places where it broke away from its mounts, but I jury rigged it with some zip ties and ordered a brand new unit from Rock Auto for less than $100. When it arrives in the next few days I will fit it and the entire episode will be done.

Before you assert that these two incidents have nothing else in common let me tell you about the young woman who backed into the side of our Freestar at the supermarket a few months ago, scraping the corner back bumper. I wasn’t pleased, but since she had managed to miss all the fragile sheet metal and only left few scuffs and some baby blue paint off the back of her Chevy Cruz – paint that I removed with some polishing compound and elbow grease – I let her off scott free. Then there was the time a guy in Japan rolled into and scuffed the back bumper of my MPV at a stoplight and still another time before that a woman in Seattle rush hour traffic gave my 200SX Turbo a pretty good jolt as well. In those cases as well, after deciding the damage was minimal, I let the offending parties walk.

To be sure, the stories I am relating about my own vehicles all involve minimal damage while the car I saw struck is going to require some professional attention, but I still think the woman’s overreaction was totally uncalled for and I pity the poor delivery driver who hit her. I am certain the “victim” of the accident has already called her insurance agent and has probably made an appointment with her doctors to check for possible back injuries as well. This whole thing is going to cause them both a whole lot of stress in the days and weeks to come and I feel bad for both of them, her the victim of the driver’s carless mistake and he the victim of her senseless, over-the-top reaction. Better, I think, for everyone not to get too carried away lest we end up sleeping with the fishes.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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  • Rnc Rnc on Jul 11, 2013

    Forgot I had been rear ended once, was driving a mazda B2200 (original mazda one) and just happened to be rear ended by another B2200 (this was 95' or so), this happened on the interstate*, we both pulled over, I walked back and saw the terrified look on his face and the reekingness of weed and realized that I too had just been smoking at that point and suggested that perhaps we could handle ourselves, he gladly agreed (we had our rear bumpers switched). *Old lady decided that as soon as she hit the off ramp it was appropriate to decelerate from 65mph to 5mph as quickly as possible, watched what could have been a 20 car pile up averted by alot of cars positioned at 45 degree angles all along the emergency lane and grass leading up to the off ramp, remember this lady specifically as a few weeks later ,she drove a 72' two door caddy, she pulled out of a wendy's and we hit her doing about 35mph in my friends nissan n2000 (whatever that little nissan death machine in the age of SUV's was called, but it was a blast to drive.) and when we got out and walked up to her car, she was still shoving fries into her mouth completely unaware that anything had happened, he went to court to make sure her license was taken.

  • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on Jul 13, 2013

    I got rear ended in my LS 400 at a stoplight a few years ago. Classic tapped while stopped story. We both looked at our cars, I had not a scratch but she had bunged up her Cherokee's bumper pretty good. I said OK by me if you just want to forget about it, she was very grateful and we parted ways. Later I saw the car in a driveway and realized she lived nearby. Several people said I was a sucker for letting it go. There were too camps: the "you should have at least got $1000 from her" camp and the "you don't know what hidden damage you might have camp." Not much I can or care to say to the first camp. But several years later no damage has ever manifested itself. I come to this attitude honestly. Over 20 years ago my fiancé and I were tapped at a stoplight while on the way to the courthouse to get married. I was younger with less perspective and despite no apparent physical damage I insisted on a police report. The car that tapped us was a van belonging to social service agency and full of handicapped people being transported. The cop came, looked it over, gave an "OK if you insist" look, took our licenses and insurance cards. A few minutes later he emerged with a ticket for the other driver "Not because of the accident but because your license is expired". The guy was crushed and apologeticly explained that he was recently separated and his wife probably was throwing out his mail including the renewal notice. He asked if he could get a warning and promised to clear it up in. 24 hrs but the cop wouldn't budge. It may have cost him his job as a driver for that agency. My fiance's car never manifested any damage. To this day I feel like a total heel over that incident.

    • See 1 previous
    • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jul 14, 2013

      OK, OK guys, you got me again! ;-D In this case, I'd contact the agency and plead with them to not bust the guy. (Perhaps the cop could have checked in with the court to see if some leeway could have been granted, as well.) But looking at this from my jaundiced "take responsibility" angle, the expiration date is on your license, and that you still need to be aware of it. Especially if such a transportation job requires a CDL. (Obviously, it could be understood that @JapBuick could have been less than pleased with this little dark cloud on the happiest day of his and his wife-to-be's life!)

  • Slyons My guess is they keep the 2.0 liter they have now with minor tweaks, and shoehorn in the 48V mild hybrid system that just debuted in the CX-90. Should allow for all the regular fun of wringing out the 4 cyl and bump the fuel mileage up at least a couple points. I don't think we'll see a major evolution of the drivetrain until the next next model (NF?).
  • 28-Cars-Later " as long as internal-combustion engines exist?"So... forever until society collapses, rebuilds, and then the Hunger Games begin?
  • Jeff S It would be a neat project but the 6k should include the parts car.
  • Kcflyer Why oh why does every manufacturer slop the roof so much on vehicles that are supposed to be utilitarian? Especially a three row people mover. Let the rear roof square off like an old volvo wagon for cripes sake! And get off my lawn. And don't give me the mpg noise. I'd happily give back a couple mpg for some utility in a "utility" vehicle.
  • Varezhka KISS, just like Miata always has. No exotic powertrain options, a simple 2L NA with MT with similar power output as Mazda3 and CX-30 would best match the car; as much as I have always dreamed of a rotary powered RX-5.That said, the Miata that I actually liked and driven the most was NC. It was just practical enough and comfortable enough over long distance that I can actually use it as my DD/road trip vehicle without losing the lightweight nimble feeling. ND as nice as it is lost some of that IMHO.The only other thing I'd like would be the new MazdaConnect which is so much nicer, and a less angry face.