Sunday, December 25, 2016

Hydroplaning and what to do in an Automobile Accident

So - THIS happened this year...

We were heading to the Prelude dress rehearsal for the Christmas Choir Concert this year.  The weather was not the best, but rain was not a big deal to drive in.  I have been driving in rain since I started driving - Rain is just part of living in the South.  So, I was not worried - However, I was concerned about the standing water in our lane - but I had slowed down because of the conditions.

If you remember anything about this incident (Or accident), I hope that you will recall that you witnessed NO LESS THAN 10 Miracles in a matter of 90 seconds (or less).  We hydroplaned from the HOV Lane on I-15 across 5 lanes of traffic and the on-ramp of Centerville.  Each lane that we passed through in our death spin, where we did not hit another vehicle and one did not hit us and we did not cause another accident - Each lane was a MIRACLE.  There were 5 lanes and an On Ramp - so 6 Miracles happened all in a row as we spun out of control across I-15.  THEN, we hit the mud and dirt.  Instead of hitting the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Fence - the fence was already down from a previous accident.  Because of this we did no damage to the car with a metal fence.  Another Miracle.  We then fishtailed in the mud and went trunk end first into the deep ditch - Yet, another miracle. Why?  Because by going in backwards, we did not have airbags deploy on our car which can be very dangerous to someone that sits as close to the steering wheel as myself.

 I looked over at you at asked if you were OK and if anything was broken - and you were fine.  So was I.  2 More Miracles.  We did not end up on the TRAX line - Another Miracle.

Then - as the events unfolded - I found out that no damage had been done to the Oil Pan, the Engine, The Exhaust, or the Muffler of the car. Miracle after Miracle.  We also found out that I did not bend the frame of the car, and only needed an alignment and some body work done to the car.  As you recall - because of the way we went backwards into the ditch, both of the side panels were a teensie bit crinkled and I did bust up my tail light on the passenger side of the car.  That part was not good because the insurance company ended up totaling the car out - but it could have been so much worse than that.

So far the worst thing is that I got a citation and my car was totaled.  (But then again, maybe that was for the best - it is still too soon to tell)  This is probably close to the BEST case scenario, son.  I have not been in a vehicle collision with another vehicle in my entire driving history.  I have had very scary things happen to me with walls, barriers, ditches, but never another car or person.  I thank the LORD for that.  I thank the LORD for seat-belts and for conscious drivers.  I thank the LORD for First Responders who arrived on the scene in less than 3 minutes after we impacted the ditch.  I thank the LORD that we were not hurt and that no one else was hurt.

Which brings me to why I chose to write this blog to you today.  There are a few things that you need to always remember whenever you get into a car and whenever you may be in an accident.  I don't think that anyone in this world will go through their life without having an accident. Accidents happen.  I hope that you will always remember to do the following:

1) Remember to always, always, always wear your seat belt. Seat belts save lives and help to prevent injury or ejection from a vehicle. Make your friends wear theirs in the car - as well as the passengers in your back seat.  Always wear yours - and never ignore the beep that reminds you to put it on.  Make it a habit to buckle up.  And not in the cheezy way like the commercials do - with the whole ridiculous "Dad - buckle up!" And the Thumbs up response.  You know the ones that I am talking about.  It really is serious business and I hope that you will always choose to wear your Seat Belt.
2) Remember that the difference between 80 Miles Per Hour and 75 Miles Per Hour is only arriving 5 minutes later at your destination.  Don't be in such a rush if you can help it.  Give yourself that extra time and enjoy the journey.  I understand that you will have moments where you are rushed and you will speed. Who doesn't do this?  Even Rick has been known to speed on occasion - but do your best to realize that you are not really getting there any faster.  I was not speeding when this happened - you can still Hydroplane going even 40 Miles Per Hour - it's possible... like skipping a stone across the lake - it's about surface area and impact.  But, there is no need to be rushing around when all you are doing is saving just a few MINUTES at best.
3) Always have insurance on your car.  This whole process would have been costly and much more stressful if I had not had coverage on my car.  It is the law that you maintain insurance on your car, but some people try to skirt this or go with the cheapest insurance that they can get. Insurance is expensive monthly, and when you don't get tickets or get into accidents - it can seem un-necessary and ridiculous.  Don't fall for that - these things happen and you will be glad that you had insurance when the time arises.  I have not had the stress that I thought that I would during this season THANKS to having a good Insurance company.
4) When you are in an accident - ALWAYS assess your situation before you move yourself or anyone else.  If you are the driver, check yourself.  Are you alright? Are there any bones broken?  If you can move and you are alright - then you check on your passengers to make sure that everyone is alright. If someone is in pain - do not move them.  Let the first responders do what they need to and help out you or your passengers.  ANY PAIN. Seriously.  I know that there is adrenaline going on - but make sure that you do not move if you are hurt or if someone else is hurt.
5) If everything is alright, feel free to safely exit your vehicle and move the the sidewalk or move somewhere that is safer than where you are.  You should call 911 or the insurance company first to make sure that you have someone on the way.  THEN you call other people.  I know that you were wondering why I did not call Rick or your Dad first when we got into our accident - it is because neither of them would have been able to pull us out of the ditch that we were stuck in.  Always report your accident first and get that process started.  If you recall, it clearly takes people a little bit to get there, assess everything, write up reports, and dig you out of the ditch that you are in.  If the accident is really bad you need to stay put and let the first responders help you out of your car and such.  Our accident was not bad, but we did not exit the vehicle when we went into the ditch until the officer assessed the situation. This is a good thing for you to do if you are ever in an accident.

6) Take pictures.  You did a great job of this during this particular situation.  Adrenaline is pumping and it is easy to forget what happened or not have a clear recollection of events later on.  However, taking pictures during this time is imperative to helping your situation later on should you have to fight anything in court.  (And you may depending on the citation and who may have been involved and the insurance company). So - always take pictures and take a lot of pictures.

7) Comply with the officers and first responders - and be appreciative. They arrive on scenes where things are often much worse than the one that we were involved in. Never admit guilt and do your best not to apologize.  The courts and the insurance company are the ones that deal with that.  I will admit - I did both in our situation. I knew that I was the one that hit the water and I was sorry that I had been the cause of inconvenience and a scary situation for everyone involved.  It's part of my personality to apologize and try to correct the situation. However, you should try not to do this if you can help it.

8) If needed, combat the decision.  The officer said that I had taken down the fence when I slid into the ditch.  Thanks to pictures, a great Mechanic, a wonderful body shop, and us being astute enough to go back to the scene and review the situation - the officer took the fence off - because I had not hit the fence at all.  We weren't sure when it happened, and he had to do his job and give me a ticket for the fence - but if you are reasonable and can show that you did not do something, approach the officer in politeness and let them know that you can show that you did not do something.  Officers and responders are people too, and they can be talked to and reasoned with. If you did not do something that they say you did, make sure that you document it to the best of your ability and then let them know that their decision might be incorrectly based.  This portion of my case was amended to show that I had NOT in fact hit the fence.

9) Be Thankful.  Regardless of the outcome, if you walk away with your life - remember to be thankful.  All of these things, cars, and fences and tires - all of these things are monetary and can be replaced.  Your life cannot be replaced. Be Thankful and remember that things could always have been worse.

I hope that you are safe out there in the world and that I love you.  And just remember... "Oh No! Oh No! Here we go!"

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