My excuse for not blogging more today: I was in a wreck

Actually, that’s my second excuse.

My first is that all the Midlands Reality Check stuff this week put me behind on my day job with ADCO, and I’m hustling to catch up.

And as I said, my second one is that I was in a wreck this afternoon. I was on Sunset Boulevard in West Columbia, heading west, and another car coming from the opposite direction turned left in front of me. I slammed on my brakes, skidded for 20 feet or so, but couldn’t stop. Totally destroyed my headlights on the right side and buckled up the hood. The other car’s front passenger door was dented in.

The main thing is, no one was hurt. Except for a stiffness in my neck afterwards, but that may have been from the tension of spending more than half an hour on the phone with my insurance company.

Anyway, I’ve been distracted…

17 thoughts on “My excuse for not blogging more today: I was in a wreck

  1. bud

    Glad you’re ok. Just shows how in an instant our focus on life can completely change.

    Given the fact than we have more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year just in SC resulting in 40k injured and around 800 deaths each year it is fascinating how little attention this gets. Fortunately the number of people killed continues to drop. Nationally the worst year was 1972 when more than 50,000 people died on the nations highways, a number just shy of the number of troops killed in Vietnam. Last year that figure was about 33,000.

    Many factors have helped in this decline, vehicle safety features among the most important. But almost all the improvements can be attributed directly or indirectly to efforts made by the federal government. At one time safety was not a concern with auto makers but as they were dragged along kicking and screaming they discovered, belatedly, that safety sells. But without the guiding hand of government vehicles would not have become the safe transportation vessels that we enjoy today.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      yup. In law school in the early eighties, when the economics of law was popular, we studied the Pinto case. Ford decided it would be cheaper to pay the lawsuits from Pinto passengers’ being burned up in a rear end collision than to retrofit all Pintos. The jury in the lawsuit decided to alter that calculation.

      1. Norm Ivey

        And this is a good reason to oppose tort reform. Once penalties become a calculable expense, it gets worked into a corporation’s budget just like any other expense. Companies whose purpose is to make money will choose pay penalties rather than address safety concerns–not just with cars, but with environmental contamination and other liability issues.

    2. Juan Caruso

      Brad, we certainly hope you are ok (“stiffness in my neck afterwards”).

      But, Bud, due to the misguided hand of government many vehicles would certainly not have become the moving hazards enjoyed today by so many the uninsured, unlicensed, illegal immigrants, and drunken motorists involved in too many hit-and-runs, injuries , deaths, escalating insurance costs, and lawsuits that profit a government-entrenched profession today.

      1. bud

        In the words of Doug Ross -WOW. How do you reach THAT conclusion given the overwhelming evidence that lawsuits have helped make auto makers accountable for improvements in the safety of automobiles. The Pinto case cited by Kathryn destroys the notion that it is a good tradeoff to allow a few folks to get incinerated in a completely and inexpensibly preventable tragedy. Ford suddenly discovered religion and decided to make their cars safer rather than risk more very expensive settlements. In this case the “evil” lawyers made things better. And 10s of thousands of people are alive today because of it.

  2. Phillip

    Glad you are OK, too. A reminder that drivers all the time are doing unpredictable things and we have to be ready, almost expectant for that. Glad your fast reactions (and your car’s brakes) probably reduced the severity of what could have been a worse wreck. Did your airbags deploy?

      1. Ralph Hightower

        Glad to hear that you’re okay. Nothing ruins a day worse than a wreck.

        If Brad’s truck doesn’t have seatbelts, then it doesn’t have airbags either.

        Dealing with insurance companies to file a claim can be a pain, particularly with the at-fault insurer.

        Late June 2011, my wife and I were T-boned in our Chevy HHR by a Chevy Tahoe that ran the stop sign on Lady at Huger. It pushed us into the next lane. Our air bags did not deploy, but we were okay. I didn’t want a rental “dog”, ie, no XM radio, on my trip to Florida to see the final Space Shuttle launch. Since our car was drivable, I drove my car down with a dented in rear passenger door.
        The at-fault insurance company wanted to replace the rear wheel with a remanufactured wheel; since the car was less than two years old, we said “No. It’s going to be new!” My insurance company would replace the wheel with a new one and do the repairs, but I would have to pay my deductible. They said that I would be able to get the deductible back after they billed the at-fault insurer. I said “Fine, you deal with these jokers.” It turned out the car needed a new rear axle because it could not be realigned. I made two trips to Florida in July 2011 for Atlantis for the launch and landing in a car that needed a rear axle replacement.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Airbags did not deploy.

      This was my Buick Regal, not the truck. Probably a good thing, since the truck is heavier. The other driver might not have escaped unscathed had it been the truck.

      It’s very weird how your brain works in that split-second before the crash.

      All of this happened in a second or less….

      I saw her. I hit the brakes. My mind went, probably in a few hundredths of a second, from “good thing I saw it in time” to “there’s no way I’m stopping in time.” (Somewhere in there, I think I considered swerving, but that was pretty much out of the question given my inertia, and anyway, a swerve might have sent me head-on into someone who wasn’t turning.) Followed by, “there’s no way this is actually happening” (a very dreamlike sensation) to IMPACT to “oh, wow, this actually happened; it’s real, and now I’m going to have to DEAL with all of this…” Which seems a silly way to react, but for a second all I could think was, “what a HASSLE.” That was followed by, “Is the other driver OK?”

      Then, she started her vehicle back into motion and pulled into the parking lot of the Jiffy Lube that was right there. I looked around me for a few seconds, getting my bearings. Eventually I noticed all the traffic that had stopped behind me, and decided I should move. The car ran OK, and I pulled into the Jiffy Lube next to the other car, and sat there and hyperventilated for a moment before getting out and going to check on the other driver.

      Thank God she was OK.

      But my mind keeps going back to the feeling of utter disbelief, the feeling it wasn’t real life, when I knew I couldn’t avoid the impact…

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        Good call on not swerving. They say in deer collisions, it’s the swerving that results in greater human injuries, as the car ends up hitting a tree or flipping, etc.

      2. Norm Ivey

        I remember reading about the slo-mo effect a couple of years ago after I was in an accident. I was fascinated by the fact that following a sudden stop, I was able to look in my rear-view mirror and think, that car’s not going to be able to stop, and after getting hit thinking, I wonder if another car will hit us (it did). I found the article on NPR.

        The experimenter thinks that it’s not that we are perceiving in slow-motion, but that every detail is etched into our memory and we re-experience it later over a longer period of time. We have just as many thoughts in the same short periods of time during more mundane events, but we release them without putting them into memory. During a traumatic event, we record those details for recall later.

  3. Bart


    The sensation of everything being in slow motion is common in accidents when you know it is going to happen. I had a wreck years ago when going over a hill in Roanoke, Va. on my way to work. As I peaked the hill in a residential area, a small vehicle was coming directly at me on my side of the street. I hit the brakes, steered to the right and hit a parked car on purpose instead of hitting the young lady driving the other car. If I hadn’t reacted the way I did, she would have been seriously injured or killed. And, all of it happened in slow motion, even the moment of the impact. I could see the glass from the other car and mine flying in all directions in slow motion. Sometimes you do have to swerve depending on the surrounding conditions.

    You did the right thing instinctively and the slow motion is the brain’s defensive mechanism when one is not impaired with drugs or alcohol.

Comments are closed.