Thursday, 15 August 2013

Having a smashing time

After a lovely family dinner celebrating my mum’s 60th birthday last week, I turned a corner I had rounded a hundred times before and heard a horrible, gut-wrenching crunch as the metal of my car bonded with the metal of someone else’s (parked) car. To make matters work, I had to keep crunching before I was able to move my poor battered motor away from its new buddy.

I pulled up at the side of the road, and I’ll admit that a series of thoughts went through my head. Would anybody ever know if I just drove off without saying anything? (Yes, I’m ashamed about that one.) The thing is, my car has been hit two or three times in the four months I’ve lived in my street and no one owned up, so what goes around comes around, right? I couldn’t exactly justify that to myself.

Anyway, I left a note on the Audi (I don’t do things by half), apologising and providing my details. Then I went to my friend’s and wept a little. And panicked… And waited… And then, when I remembered what one should do in situations like this, I prayed.

Around this time, my mum texted me Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” It was hard to see how anything good could come out of a car accident, but I guess that’s why they call it faith.

Almost a week later I had heard nothing. Deep down I hoped that whoever owned it had chalked it up to bad experience and that I was off the hook. Not likely! I eventually received a call from a friend of the Audi owner, as the owner doesn’t speak English. The friend thanked me for owning up and said Mr Audi would accept a very small cash payment to fix his bashed-up motor. It then transpired that said friend is a car bodywork specialist and will be able to fix the damage to my car for next to nothing.

This might not sound like much to you, but I guess this was the best possible result from a situation that seemed pretty bleak at the time. I don’t need to claim on my insurance, and I’ve also made connections with two local people who I otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths with. And now if anyone else bashes into my car and doesn’t own up, I at least know who to call!

While I was looking for news stories to populate the Sorted site in the aftermath, I couldn’t seem to avoid car-related press releases. The first, from Admiral Car Insurance, was about drink driving, and worryingly revealed that 19% of Brits (27% of men and 10% of women) admit to having driven while over the limit.

The second showed that men aged 50 and over are more likely to get distracted behind the wheel than their female counterparts. Research from Saga Car Insurance claims two-thirds of men over 50 have been distracted behind the wheel during the last 12 months compared with half of women.

Men are twice as likely to be distracted by programming Sat Navs (23% versus 13%), rubbernecking (15% versus 9%) and channel hopping on the stereo (24% versus 18%). A quarter of men also admit to ogling attractive passersby, while just 1% of women say their eyes have momentarily wandered towards a good-looking male.

Having hit two parked cars and two birds with my car in the last two years, I’m hardly in a position to offer road safety advice, so I’ll let Saga's director of communication, Paul Green, do it for me. "Driving is like second nature to most of us and we forget about the risks of getting behind the wheel,” he says, adding: “The best advice to drivers is to stay safe and don't be an in-car fiddler."

When it comes to drink driving, no one says it better than Sue Longthorn, Admiral’s managing director: "It's vital that people are aware of how much alcohol they are consuming when they are due to drive, and remember that drink driving is not acceptable in any shape or form and it's never worth the risk."

"The difference between men and women in our research is a worry, as it appears the anti drink driving message is getting through to women, but not so effectively with men. The amount of alcohol in someone's blood is the same, regardless of their gender."

(Shameless plug alert) If you’re in the London area and you’ve had a few jars, why not jump into the Sorted taxi rather than taking the car? You’ll get a free copy of the magazine instead of a potential fine/ban/prison sentence! You can’t say much fairer than that.

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