The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > In My Humble Opinion (IMHO)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-05-2012, 06:41 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
If someone has had 6+ car accidents are they a bad driver, regardless of fault?

Let me preface this by saying I'm not an amazing driver. Sort of average at best, but this is not about me.

I have a friend who has now had 6 car accidents in the city we live in - she has had more in another city. I believe that all of these accidents have been ruled the other drivers' faults - she has received settlements for injuries for all of them, I think, but I don't think she's doing it purposefully - she was 8 months pregnant for one, and had one or more of her children in the car for others and I just don't think she would do that.

So, at this point I'm thinking she's not much of a driver - surely defensive driving would have helped prevent some of these - no? Or is it possible to be an excellent driver and just have really bad luck? FWIW, I suggested that she should get a bus pass because her car obviously has a bullseye on it!

BTW - there is nothing riding on this - I'm just wondering what other people think.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 10-05-2012, 06:54 PM
twickster twickster is offline
Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space
Moderator
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 38,046
Depends on the timeframe. Six accidents in 5 years is one thing, six in 50 years is another.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 10-05-2012, 06:57 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by twickster View Post
Depends on the timeframe. Six accidents in 5 years is one thing, six in 50 years is another.
12 years although I think lots of people drive for 50 years and don't have any accidents.

Last edited by alice_in_wonderland; 10-05-2012 at 06:57 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 10-05-2012, 06:58 PM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
It's also a function of how much she drives. The more time spent behind the wheel the more likely you are to be in an accident. That said, it sounds like she's not a very defensive driver. But she could just be unlucky, too.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:02 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: In the Dreaming
Posts: 14,941
Let me see, in 34 years of driving;


1. Slid on ice into someone's back end, inconsequential damage, my fault, no report. (mid 80's)
2. Struck someone else from behind when traffic screeched to a halt, minor damage, my fault. (mid 80's)
3. Struck car from behind when she started pulling around a corner and then backed up (and I was creeping forward watching oncoming traffic), the cop said the scratch on her bumper was not visible from a distance of more than 8-9" away, but she still claimed damages. My fault. (late 90's)

4. Broadsided by kid who ran a red light at 3am. (1986)
5. Struck from behind (at speed) while stopped on an interstate (traffic jam, everyone stopped, this guy was too busy dicking with his radio) (1986)
6. Struck from behind while waiting to pull out of a grocery store parking lot. (1987)
7. Struck from behind (at speed) while stopped waiting to turn left into company parking lot. (1993)
7. Front end of my car driven over by the trailer of a semi who illegally turned right from a left turn only lane. (1994)
8. Struck from behind while 2 cars back from a light. (2005)

Probably between 7-10 instances where I was struck from behind with no damage that I could determine and I let them go without incident.

Am I a bad driver?

Oh, I haven't had a ticket of any kind in 18 years.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:11 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 30,537
Let me see, in 34 years of driving;

1. Had a car hit me in the side while it was trying to make a left turn onto my street with no room to fit in. The other driver got a ticket.

That is all.

I am an extremely defensive driver. I actually pretend my car and I are invisible and no one will see me or react to what I do. Then, I hope it's not true for people coming at me from behind.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:27 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 34,193
I've had 4 in over 40 years, only one of which was my fault, and no injuries in any of them. Are the injuries to her or to the car? 6 accidents with injuries to her is an awful lot, since it means that someone was going fast enough to cause the injury, and/or not paying attention. One of mine was when a guy (unlicensed, uninsured) pulled out right in front of me on a fairly large street. I was able to stop fast enough so my airbag did not deploy and my car was still drivable.
But I'd need more details of her accidents to know for sure about whether her problems are just bad luck. I doubt it, though.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:30 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chimera View Post

Am I a bad driver?.
Um, yes? Ok, maybe not a bad driver, but not a good driver either. I think three 'at fault' accidents precludes you from being considered a good driver.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:33 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Are the injuries to her or to the car? 6 accidents with injuries to her is an awful lot, since it means that someone was going fast enough to cause the injury, and/or not paying attention.
Both - the latest one was a head on collision. I don't think she's ever been rear ended ( although I've sort of lost track) they seem to be side swipes or head ons or other things.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:35 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 30,537
In that case she's a terrible driver.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:35 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Some people are very unlucky, others have a penchant for putting themselves in a bad situation. It's anyone's guess where exactly that line is drawn and which side of it any given driver resides on, however with each successive incident Occam's Razor would suggest that it's the latter.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:38 PM
alice_in_wonderland alice_in_wonderland is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
I haven't actually driven with her for years, but last time I did it was sort of speeding, and swerving a bit, but not more than our contemporaries at the time. She does have three kids now - maybe she's just really distracted so can't avoid things? (FWIW, I seem to be avoiding people doing crazy things here every time I drive so that could be a factor.)

Last edited by alice_in_wonderland; 10-05-2012 at 07:40 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 10-05-2012, 07:39 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ottawa Valley, eh.
Posts: 15,982
34 years of driving:

- Following too closely behind a friend, who suddenly changed lanes and I ploughed into the back of a parked car. My fault.

- It was a dark and stormy night, and a car had stalled in the right-hand lane. As I was looking in my rear-view mirror to see if anyone was going to slam into the back of him, my wife (fiance at the time) started yelling at me. DOUG! DOUG! DOUG! DOUG! So, my 2 or three seconds of looking in my rear-view mirror, coupled with two or three seconds looking at her made me plough into the back of a car in front of me turning left. My fault.

- Driving to work, 80 KPH. Dude in front of me pulls over onto the soft shoulder. As I approach him, he starts to pull back onto the road. WTF? I'll just go around him since no one is coming the other way, Well, he is actually in the process of making a U turn and didn't catch me in his mirrors. So, he pulls onto the road. I decide to pull into the opposing lane and pass him, and suddenly he's sideways on the road and I have nowhere to go but..........BANG! His fault.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 10-05-2012, 08:32 PM
tellyworth tellyworth is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,970
There was a period of about 3 years where I had five people crash into me. All were their fault. All were when my car was completely stopped. Once it was parked in the street and I was in the house.

I didn't do anything to make those accidents more likely. And I don't think there's any defensive action I could have taken to avoid any of them, unless you count not driving at all.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 10-05-2012, 09:32 PM
Sally Mander Sally Mander is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
My SO's 20-year-old daughter will tell you she's a great, but just terribly unlucky driver. People seem to stop suddenly in front of her at an alarming rate. In the two and a half years we've been together, she's had four accidents, and totaled two cars from rear-ending other people. But to hear her tell it, it's never been her fault. Those stupid people stopped suddenly in front of her with no warning!
Well, maybe that one time was a little bit her fault...she had her phone propped up on the dashboard and was listening, just listening, to a movie streaming on Netflix. She wasn't actually watching it, because that would be wrong.

(She's a horrible driver. She gets red light camera tickets and speed camera tickets all the time, too.)

Last edited by Sally Mander; 10-05-2012 at 09:33 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 10-05-2012, 09:58 PM
MLS MLS is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 7,278
Quote:
Originally Posted by tellyworth View Post
There was a period of about 3 years where I had five people crash into me. All were their fault. All were when my car was completely stopped. Once it was parked in the street and I was in the house.

I didn't do anything to make those accidents more likely. And I don't think there's any defensive action I could have taken to avoid any of them, unless you count not driving at all.
Similar story. For a while it seemed I couldn't go a year without someone plowing into the back of my car while I was (legally) stopped at a stop sign, light or yield sign. I had soft tissue injuries only, and in NJ you cannot sue for pain and suffering for that. Fortunately I had very good medical insurance at the time, but I spent the next 3 or 4 days in pain from the whiplash. Then, for a change, someone went through a stop sign right across my line of travel and I was unable to completely avoid hitting her car. I ended up with a totalled car, mashed up knee and a cracked bone in my neck.

In every single case I was doing absolutely nothing wrong, and was in no way driving poorly.

I could tell you more stories about others in my family.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 10-05-2012, 10:24 PM
picker picker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Auburn, CA
Posts: 2,437
driving 24 years, including driving a cab part time for the last 7.

No accidents with another vehicle.

Did have a rival cab company hit me when I was in PDQ getting coffee, but I was legally parked in a space. Nothing you can do about that.

I vote terrible driver. At least not a defensive one, I would guess most likely easily distracted and with poor situational awareness.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 10-05-2012, 10:36 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Getting into at least 6 accidents in 12 years, without having put in an unusually high amount of mileage in a high-risk setting strikes me as either the mark of a not-so-hot driver or someone with horribly bad luck (probably the former).

There are people who are fairly atrocious behind the wheel, but who manage to go their entire driving careers without logging an accident - such as my mother-in-law, who according to her daughter was a wretched driver but never had an official wreck, including the time she ran over a sewer worker emerging from a manhole (he ducked back down just in time).
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 10-05-2012, 10:40 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
I'll vote most likely bad driver.

I've lost count of how many accidents I've avoided by being a defensive driver. Seems like about every 6 months or so I have a "good damn thing I was paying attention because that other jackass wasn't" near accident.

So, IMO either darn unlucky driver or non defensive driver (which is just another form of bad driver) or perhaps some of both.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 10-05-2012, 10:49 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Let's see:
-Did a crappy job parallel parking in my early twenties, dinged a BMW. My fault.
-Was behind a tire truck driving on a residential street, stopped when it stopped, didn't get my ass into reverse fast enough when it decided to reverse and hit me. Their fault, but possibly could have been avoided if I were a bit faster on the uptake (I was honestly stunned that this truck decided to go into reverse on a residential street while I was behind it).
-Driving slowly on a wintry night, but not slowly enough, hit a patch of black ice and slowly slowly slowly slid into the truck in front of me, itself stopped because it had rear-ended a vehicle a few minutes earlier and stalled out. A minute later, I was, in turn, hit by a car behind me, and a car behind that one managed, barely, to slide into the ice-water-filled-ditch instead of hitting us. My fault, but pretty decent mitigating circumstances, IMO.
-Driving at night in the rain, with stopped traffic in the main lane of a 3-lane road, I got into the left-turn lane and got ready to take my turn. Before I could, a dude getting his kid from the daycare center to my right made a left-turn through the main lane of traffic and directly into my path. I plowed into him. His fault according to his insurance company, and I don't think I could have done anything to avoid it, unless maybe I'd been driving a car with higher clearance so I could have seen him over the roofs of the main lane of traffic to my right.

So that's four in about 15 years. I think of myself as a decent but not amazing driver.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 10-06-2012, 02:18 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 22,531
Been driving 37 years.

1. A woman ran a stop sign, and hit my right side.

2. A woman skidded on ice, and hit my left side.

That's it.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 10-06-2012, 04:40 AM
ticker ticker is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Maybe she is an unpredictable driver. Other drivers make wrong assumptions about what she is going to do.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 10-06-2012, 05:30 AM
casdave casdave is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Posts: 7,508
You cannot judge a driver all that well solely from accidents - that's because accidents are actually rare.

We don't tend to remember the near misses, these are much more common, so common that we forget them almost as soon as they have happened.

If you want to try it out, be my guest, but recalling all your near misses is more likely to be more revealing. If you have very few near misses, then I would expect that you are not putting yourself in risky situations, thus making you a safer driver.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 10-06-2012, 06:36 AM
don't ask don't ask is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 16,032
I have been driving for 40 odd years and have had lots of accidents, the most recent a few weeks ago. I don't consider myself a great driver but even with all these accidents I have never had to claim on my insurance, the other driver being at fault.

Off the top of my head I have been hit 4 times while in the car when it was stationary - once in a parking lot. I have had 3 people run into me turning across the flow of traffic while I was going straight ahead. The latest I was slowing down in a line of traffic and the car behind me plowed up my rear.

IIRC I had 5 of the accidents (3 stationary, 2 cars written off by turning vehicles) in the first 3 years I was driving.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 10-06-2012, 07:02 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Eastern Connecticut
Posts: 15,264
Hm, driving since 1977.

Had to bail off the road in 1978 because a semi hit black ice and came across the median at me. Cop saw it, told insurance company it wasn't my fault. Seriously totaled that car. [1973 New Yorker. Tree bent the trunk and luggage all the way up to the rear window. Front bench seat broke loose and ended up in the back seat. We walked away with nothing more than assorted bruises and sore muscles. Got to love the old school urban tank vehicles.]

Town truck hit my 74 mustang in 1984, peeled the passenger side door skin. I was standing in a bank watching this idiot in amazement. Got the sheet metal and hammered myself a new door skin while killing winter down time in my shop. Bartered services to a paint shop to paint my car 73 cadillac light gold. Not my fault.

Rear ended in traffic by some idiot lady in Norfolk VA in 1988. Not my fault, bumper replacement. I don't think there was an airbag in the car yet. [1987 hyndai]

1997 a freak april snow storm overburdened a pine branch and a third of the tree ended up on my 1996 Golf. Act of god, definitely not *my* fault.

So, in 30+ years, 2 in vehicle accidents, neither caused by me, 1 act of idiot and 1 act of god with me not in vehicle.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 10-06-2012, 07:28 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,172
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
Some people are very unlucky.
I would ask for a cite that "luck" as an entity even exists; statistically speaking shit happens. There are people who have won major lotteries multiple times. With the number of people out there driving the number of miles they do, somewhere there is likely a perfect driver who has been in a dozen wrecks through absolutely no fault of their own. Shit happens. Cars are struck by falling space debris.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 10-06-2012, 07:56 AM
DCnDC DCnDC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Shit happens. Cars are struck by falling space debris.
Hence the second part of what I wrote.

If your car is struck by falling space debris once, *shrug* yeah, shit happens.

If your car is struck by falling space debris half a dozen times, odds are it's somehow being caused by you.

Last edited by DCnDC; 10-06-2012 at 07:57 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 10-06-2012, 08:24 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: America's Wing
Posts: 23,241
6 accidents in 12 years is above average, but could still happen if she drives a lot around town. Then again, it could be her driving, at that point you can't be sure.

However, it's another story if she typically drives a crapload of miles. In my 20+ years of driving, I've only had 2 at-speed accidents and I've put in around half a million miles. So if she also likes to go on lengthy road trips, that will count to her credit.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 10-06-2012, 08:35 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 14,172
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCnDC View Post
Hence the second part of what I wrote.

If your car is struck by falling space debris once, *shrug* yeah, shit happens.

If your car is struck by falling space debris half a dozen times, odds are it's somehow being caused by you.
I dunno. I've kayaked and hiked many times during thunderstorms, but have never been struck by lightning. Roy Sullivan was hit seven times.

Last edited by kayaker; 10-06-2012 at 08:36 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 10-06-2012, 08:43 AM
K364 K364 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Posts: 1,786
Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker View Post
Maybe she is an unpredictable driver. Other drivers make wrong assumptions about what she is going to do.
This is what I was thinking too.

Signals inappropriately. For example: there will be 2 or 3 entrances to a parking lot on your right, but you plan to turn right at the end of the block. Don't signal a right turn!

Or is hesitant or timid. For example: she is waiting to enter traffic and it clears but she won't move. Or approaching a stale green light and she slows... slows... and brakes when it turns yellow*; more aggressive drivers can judge that they should be picking up some speed to get through the stale green or early yellow.

In a typical city you will have a spectrum of drivers: 10% too cautious, 5% over-aggressive and reckless, and the rest in that sweet spot of confident efficiency**.

*or, in a spectacular coupe-de-mal-driveur, after slowing and freezing the car behind her, decides to go through the late yellow after all.

**which is what I call my 10k over the speed limit, tail-gating, aggressive lane changing habits Seriously, I've had two minor accidents in 40 years, both when I was relaxed, driving slowly and not engaged in what I was doing. When I'm intense I have the situational awareness that I need to keep my car and the other drivers cars in the right place.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 10-06-2012, 09:13 AM
Spice Weasel Spice Weasel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
I'm a nervous driver, used to drive too defensively but I've learned to be a little more assertive. I am constantly thinking about how I'm driving, which I think actually makes me worse.

The only accident I've been in was when someone rear-ended me at a stop light and totalled my mother's car (I was sixteen.) Ever since then I have been so paranoid about getting rear-ended that I probably pay too much attention to what's behind me.

But, I am really not that bad. I've had a few at-fault near misses (all of them when I was lost), but I've prevented many more accidents than I've caused. I live in Jersey and work in Philadelphia, so some days it seems like avoiding accidents is all I do.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 10-06-2012, 02:18 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lethbridge, AB.
Posts: 48,088
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sally Mander View Post
My SO's 20-year-old daughter will tell you she's a great, but just terribly unlucky driver. People seem to stop suddenly in front of her at an alarming rate. In the two and a half years we've been together, she's had four accidents, and totaled two cars from rear-ending other people. But to hear her tell it, it's never been her fault. Those stupid people stopped suddenly in front of her with no warning!
Well, maybe that one time was a little bit her fault...she had her phone propped up on the dashboard and was listening, just listening, to a movie streaming on Netflix. She wasn't actually watching it, because that would be wrong.

(She's a horrible driver. She gets red light camera tickets and speed camera tickets all the time, too.)
OMFG. You don't have a location listed, so I'm just crossing my fingers that she isn't in my area. If "America's Worst Driver" was still on, she'd be a contender.

Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
I'll vote most likely bad driver.

I've lost count of how many accidents I've avoided by being a defensive driver. Seems like about every 6 months or so I have a "good damn thing I was paying attention because that other jackass wasn't" near accident.

So, IMO either darn unlucky driver or non defensive driver (which is just another form of bad driver) or perhaps some of both.
This is my bet, too - she's probably not terrible, but a good driving instructor could probably reduce her collisions significantly by making her aware of how to avoid what all the *other* idiots are doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ticker View Post
Maybe she is an unpredictable driver. Other drivers make wrong assumptions about what she is going to do.
That's definitely part of being a bad driver. A thing I've noticed drivers here doing more of recently is driving as close to the right curb as they can - they go to the curb in between cars, then back out into the driving lane. I don't know *what* the hell they think they're doing - I absolutely hate driving behind people doing that.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 10-06-2012, 04:23 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,524
I had an accident once where I was dead stopped as the second car at a stop sign. The first car put his in reverse and backed his pickup into me, riding over my hood. He said he didn't see me and wanted to look at something on the side of the road. Was this my fault?

No, unless you feel that having a small sports car is my fault.

But maybe if I had stopped farther back, he would have seen me.

My point is that if you allow more for accidents, you are less likely to have them. Is something odd or uncertain happening up ahead? Slow down. Do you not know what the driver in front is going to do? Then avoid him as much as you can. Is another driver's visibility restricted? Then give him a wider berth.

People who drive defensively have fewer accidents.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 10-06-2012, 05:28 PM
Lamar Mundane Lamar Mundane is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 7,611
Not being at fault in accidents does not necessarily mean that you aren't a bad driver. Being aware and avoiding bad situations is what makes you a good driver. I once was driving side by side with another car at about 50 mph as we approached a cross street. This was in the country and I could clearly see a car on the cross street approaching the intersection way too fast (he had a stop sign). I slowed down while the guy next to me continued on, T-boning the guy who ran the stop sign. Not his fault legally, but it was his fault for not paying attention.

Another bad idea is to drive in packs in icy weather. I guess people feel safety in numbers, but if just one of the cars slides, it can take them all out. Stay far away from other cars and even if you do slip, you can recover without hitting anyone.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 10-06-2012, 05:43 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Like at least 95% of all drivers, I consider myself an above-average driver. I got my license in 1954 and in 58 years of driving, I have never had an accident. It is true that in that time, I have averaged probably only about 7 or 8K miles a year, but still. I certainly drive defensively, use turn signals (I think nearly all drivers around here are missing a left arm) and always try to track the situation.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 10-06-2012, 05:50 PM
tellyworth tellyworth is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 1,970
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
But maybe if I had stopped farther back, he would have seen me.

...

People who drive defensively have fewer accidents.
If instead you had stopped farther back, and someone had rear-ended you, would you be thinking "maybe if I hadn't been so far back he might have stopped in time"?

Recently I was stopped at a large roundabout. There was a car in the roundabout on my right. It looked like he was probably going to exit rather than cross my path, but I couldn't be sure, and it was wet, and he was going slightly too fast, so I decided to be defensive and wait till I knew where he was going.

The guy behind me drove into the back of my car.

So.. you can't drive defensively against everything. Defending against one thing means you're not defending against another.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 10-07-2012, 09:41 AM
UncleRojelio UncleRojelio is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: ATX
Posts: 5,316
I haven't been in a collision for thirty years now. In that time I got one ticket for running a red light and one for an expired inspection sticker. I think it's a matter of being aware of your surroundings. I'm a hyper aggressive driver so I pay very close attention to what is going on around me.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 10-07-2012, 10:39 AM
Simple Linctus Simple Linctus is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,991
You cannot be certain because with so many drivers inevitably some are going to have six accidents through pure bad luck but I tend to think that almost all accidents are avoidable by anyone of the parties. I would say it's at least 95% chance she's an awful driver in some respect, yes.

Key thing is getting her to describe the accidents. If in most of them someone "comes out of nowehere" or "suddenly did something with no warning" then chances are she is awful at anticipation skills. I'm trying to think of an accident that isn't avoidable, the one I had a week ago possibly counts, I was parked up and someone crashed into me as she was having a sneezing fit, then again arguably if I was superman and for some reason watching the traffic around me, had the engine running, and the car in reverse just in case I could have avoided it...
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 10-07-2012, 11:25 AM
Folacin Folacin is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ludovic View Post
However, it's another story if she typically drives a crapload of miles. In my 20+ years of driving, I've only had 2 at-speed accidents and I've put in around half a million miles. So if she also likes to go on lengthy road trips, that will count to her credit.
Not all miles are created equal. There's a reason most accidents are within 3-5 miles of where you live (and it's not because you're living in the wrong place (mostly)) - most people live where there is lots of stop and go traffic. If your half a million miles is mostly outside of urban areas, you greatly reduced your accident risk just by where you were driving.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 10-07-2012, 11:29 AM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boyo Jim View Post
I am an extremely defensive driver. I actually pretend my car and I are invisible and no one will see me or react to what I do. Then, I hope it's not true for people coming at me from behind.
Ride a motor scooter like I do if you want to experience what it's like to be invisible. People will stop at an intersection, look right at you, then pull out in front of you. People are looking for oncoming cars, and a motorcycle simply doesn't register as an oncoming vehicle. When I ride, besides being invisible and always expecting the other driver to do the stupidest possible thing, I imagine that all autos have a bubble of toxicity surrounding them - an area I must avoid being in if at all possible. Haven't been hit or had to lay the scooter down. Yet.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 10-07-2012, 12:52 PM
Musicat Musicat is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Sturgeon Bay, WI USA
Posts: 17,524
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrendajo View Post
Ride a motor scooter like I do if you want to experience what it's like to be invisible.
A big scooter? I is to larf! For invisibility, try a bicycle sometime!
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 10-07-2012, 01:08 PM
pinkyvee pinkyvee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
I've been on the receiving end of an auto collision several times. Every one of those accidents occurred while I was driving in Los Angeles. IMO the cities with the highest insurance rates will be the cities where good drivers have more accidents by just being in the way of a crappy driver.

Now that we have moved to a lower-insurance-rate area .... we are accident free (so far).
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 10-07-2012, 01:19 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 30,537
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arrendajo View Post
Ride a motor scooter like I do if you want to experience what it's like to be invisible. People will stop at an intersection, look right at you, then pull out in front of you. People are looking for oncoming cars, and a motorcycle simply doesn't register as an oncoming vehicle. When I ride, besides being invisible and always expecting the other driver to do the stupidest possible thing, I imagine that all autos have a bubble of toxicity surrounding them - an area I must avoid being in if at all possible. Haven't been hit or had to lay the scooter down. Yet.
IMO it's safer to act as if you're invisible whether you are or not, so we are in agreement.

I just wish I could tell which drivers are actually blind from further away.

My two favorite blind driver stories:

I was walking past a parking ramp once, and the driver hit the attendant's booth, apparently not able to see the entry lane. Then he backed up, turned his wheels, and crept ahead, and hit the booth again. Then, the idiot attendant got out of the booth and started giving the driver instructions on how to straighten up to get into the ramp, where he could hit lots more stuff, including people and parked cars.

Another time I was driving along a main street and saw this car creeping out of a side street. At first I was so far away that I thought he'd be finished through the intersection before I got there. Then he stopped for a bit and started creeping again. By this time I was getting close and I thought his view might be blocked by cars parked close to the corner. Then I saw the driver and he was still creeping and I thought, "He's pulled out far enough to see me for sure, so he will stop now." But he didn't, and even though he was probably only going 5 mph, I ended up having to hit the brakes and stop to let him go by. And then I was close enough, stopped right next to him, to see him really close up, and I could tell by the way he was peering around and squinting that he STILL didn't see me. If I had a cell phone I would have called the cops on him.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 10-09-2012, 10:18 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Accidents are (for most drivers) a rare thing, but close calls happen more often, and as was suggested upthread, they are perhaps a more statistically useful indicator of questionable driving skill. The more close calls you have, the more likely one of those close calls will eventually match up with an occasion when someone else isn't paying attention either. And even if the accident is officially ruled someone else's fault, that doesn't mean you could not have avoided it.

I've been driving for 26 years. Two accidents, both times I was rear-ended at very low speeds by another driver, neither one involved visible damage or a police report.

My record includes 165,000 miles of motorcycle riding over the past 14 years; close calls in the saddle are also very rare for me because I made it a point to develop my riding skills and maintain a high level of situational awareness. I wear high-viz gear and have extra forward lighting; it's very rare that people pull out in front of me in traffic. I recognize that things may be different for riders who dress head-to-toe in black leather and ride a bike with one small dim headlight out front.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 10-09-2012, 11:22 AM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
The answer is yes. I don't care if someone crashed into her every single time; it's called watching the road. People do stupid shit, people fly around corners without yielding to oncoming traffic, people merge without signaling, people blow through stop signs. Pay attention. I've dodged a few accidents by being cautious of stupid jerks. If she's not doing that, she's a bad driver.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 10-09-2012, 11:40 AM
drachillix drachillix is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland View Post
I believe that all of these accidents have been ruled the other drivers' faults - she has received settlements for injuries for all of them, I think, but I don't think she's doing it purposefully - she was 8 months pregnant for one, and had one or more of her children in the car for others and I just don't think she would do that.
I'll play devils advocate here for a sec...

I drive quite a bit (20K-25K mi a year mostly city) about once a month I see someone do something stupid that if I were to help things along would result in an accident that was not my fault. Several offramps in my town have bad visibility and cars tend to nose a couple feet across the line for a better view, if you sat and watched that intersection, its not uncommon for some folks to push that to 3+ feet which puts them into the cross traffic.

We also have a lovely no U turn spot. The no U turn rule is to provide cover for a protected right turn. I used to go through that protected right several times a day and stopped to avoid collisions with people making the illegal U turn on no less than 3 occasions.

If I had wanted to I could have easily plowed my honda ridgeline into one of those U turners....saw them coming every time and had several seconds to react. easily could have racked up plenty of insurance $.

If you are seeking it...people leave openings every day. Being pregnant or having kids in the car makes you look a heck of a lot less likely to be doing it on purpose, even if you are.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 10-09-2012, 12:23 PM
Blaster Master Blaster Master is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
I think it depends on the circumstances. Just because a driver isn't at fault doesn't mean that driver couldn't have done more to help avoid the collision. For instance, if you're stopped at a red light and you get rear-ended, there's nothing you could have done. But if someone clips you while in the process of cutting you off, it's still their fault, but an aware driver might have swerved and/or adjusted speed to avoid the collision. In my 14 years or so of driving, I've avoided plenty of potential accidents because I was able to avoid that sort of situation or had a feeling someone might run a stop sign and took the extra precaution.

In my case, my car has been hit twice while I've been in it (and an additional 2 times while parked, which certainly can't be blamed on me). One I was stopped at a red light and rearended fairly lightly, nothing I could do to avoid that. The other, it was stop and go traffic, I stopped and the guy two cars back just kept going and slammed the car behind me into me, nothing I could do there either. Those are the kind I don't feel like could be used to say I'm a bad driver.

However, in the case of the OP, mentioning that most of them have not been getting rear-ended and have been head-on or side-swipes, I'm inclined to think that she probably isn't very good, or is at least distracted enough that she's missing the cues that might have helped her avoid those sorts of things. Chances are, a side-swipe might have been avoided if she'd observed an erratic or distracted driver and changed speed or changed lanes to get away from the driver, whereas distraction might have made her blind to those warning signs.
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 10-09-2012, 02:16 PM
Disheavel Disheavel is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
23 years of driving. Never an accident and never a scrape with a wall or pole or gate. The worst thing was I came back to my (rental) car and it had its bumper corner buckled in from a hit-and-run in a parking lot. I have had two windshields chip/crack from thrown rocks though.

1 ticket for driving on a sidewalk, however. The moment I saw that it was a sidewalk (about 10 feet onto it) and not a driveway around the KFC, I stopped and backed out, but the cop was not so forgiving.

So I say emphatically, Yes your friend is a bad driver.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 10-10-2012, 12:46 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,749
Quote:
Originally Posted by alice_in_wonderland View Post
Um, yes? Ok, maybe not a bad driver, but not a good driver either. I think three 'at fault' accidents precludes you from being considered a good driver.
Note that those were all back in the 1990s or thereabouts, so Chimera may well have improved since then.

With the person mentioned in the OP, I'd say she's not necessarily a *good* driver; even if she wasn't held at fault, being in that many accidents suggests she's at the least not good at driving defensively. Also many accidents have some contribution by the "not at fault" party, even if they're not officially cited.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.