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A little rant, and a request for info from you ESL folks.(27 posts)

A little rant, and a request for info from you ESL folks.Kristin
Dec 19, 2002 8:49 AM
Last night I got hit by a 5'0 tall foreign woman driving the biggest damn Land Rover I'd ever seen. It was raining, but the intersection brightly lit and I was able to see all the cars around me clearly. She was stopped 1 car length back at a red light when I attempted to pull accross her lane (in front of her truck) into the left turn lane on the other side. As I rolled slowly accross she rolled right into me at about 6 miles an hour. I got out of my car and approached her passanger side door. She spent 3 minutes fretting with the controls and couldn't figure out the passenger window. Finally, I opened the door. She didn't even know that she'd hit me--she said she didn't see me. We decided to pull into a gas station accross the street. I get back in my car and wait for her to back up. She doesn't back up. She just sits there. I had to get back out and tell her to back up because her truck was still resting against my car. She was really confused--and I was really angry at this point. When the police showed up, they explained that it was actually my fault. Even then, the woman kept offering me her information. After 10 minutes of explaining, she was still apologizing and offering to give me her phone number. I don't think she ever understood that it wasn't her fault (technically).

Okay, so the last thing I want to be is prejudiced. But I am also really concerned about some of the people who are driving around out there. I'm sure she's a very sweet lady; but could she hit me on my bike some day? She seemed to lack any ability to think critically during this accident. Why is that? I've encountered so many older foreigners who can't navigate tricky situations. Perhaps if I can understand why that is, I can have more empathy. But at this moment I don't understand...I don't get why this woman can't figure out that this truck is too big for her if she can't even see a car turn in front of her. Its the same with older people too. My grandparents still drive. This shouldn't be. They can't walk all that well. There is no way they could respond quickly in a scary situation. I really worry about them and others when they drive.

Lastly, I know it would mean that far fewer drivers would be licensed in this country--and as a result, fewer dollars for local government--but should drivers license testing include testing a persons ability to respond well during a crisis??
So many hot-button issues, so close to Christmas. I don'tRhodyRider
Dec 19, 2002 9:01 AM
EVEN have the guts to respond to this. SUVs, immigrants, no English language skills, oh man, this is fraught with peril.
Good Luck, Kristin, sorry you had the accident.
you forgot heightis...sorry, "the vertically challenged" :) nmKristin
Dec 19, 2002 9:22 AM
Argh...SIZISM! Where's Randy Newman when you need him nmRhodyRider
Dec 19, 2002 9:35 AM
driving privileges are far too easy to obtainDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 9:21 AM
Maybe she falls into the category of a "new driver," rather than a small woman or foreigner. Based upon your description, she may not be familiar with cars at all, or with American roads, etc. She may be no different than a 16 year old with no driver's education training. We assume that if you are older, you know how to drive, but some people, maybe foreigners in excess, are starting to driver later in life.

Small people can drive large vehicles, too. I've seen 5 feet tall women drive big rigs. While a larger person might have an easier time seeing around them, the small person should still be able to see sufficiently. I don't think we need to size cars like we do bikes.

I'd certainly be in favor of more difficult driving tests, and make people repeat the driving portion every few years. That costs money, though, and won't be very acceptable to the elderly.

As far as your situation is concerned, you probably both are at fault in relative degrees, maybe 50/50. Add up the total damage you each pay half, or whatever proportions apply.

Got an estimate for the damage?

Nope, I let it goKristin
Dec 19, 2002 9:34 AM
The police said I was 100% at fault and I never argue with the police--that is an excersise in futility. So I let it go.

There was zero damage to her truck--she has that big steal cage around her lights. I'm extremely pleased with my Saturn. I expected a huge hole--Saturn's version of the dent. What I found was a very, VERY slight dent and some black paint transferred from her truck. When I saw it, I was embarrassed that I'd even called the police. I scrubbed most of the black paint off myself, and since Saturns don't really get scratched--it just needs to be buffed. Saturn's panels aren't painted, they are solid color injected plastic. It'll probably cost about $100 to fix--which I'll pay for since my car is still so new.
Saturns are paintedmohair_chair
Dec 19, 2002 10:09 AM
Saturns are great for small damage, but the panels are not colored through. Saturns are painted and clearcoated. Trust me, mine got a scratch that peeled off the paint. You are lucky it wasn't a deeper gouge.

I don't think it was totally your fault, either. Maybe your move wasn't the smartest (althoguh it seemed okay to me), but that gives her no right or cause to run into you. Good thing there wasn't any real damage, so you can forget the whole incident.
Saturns and re-paint tiprollo tommassi
Dec 19, 2002 10:37 AM
yes, they are painted...on mine there was a grey primer then the color.

Advice: have the body shop strip the entire panel before repainting. If they just re-spray over the ding, there will still be a paint level difference between primer level and clearcoat.
Oh, question about tickets and suchKristin
Dec 19, 2002 9:41 AM
I wanted to ask you. I just got two tickets--another reason I didn't argue last night--one for speeding and another for expired registration. I simply forgot to renew with the purchase of my first home taking most of my attention. I told my lawyer about the tickets while discussing a contractor problem with him--he had to write some nasty-grams for me. He said I should have him go to court with me so he can help me get court supervision. But I've had tickets before and got court supervision without the help of a lawyer. Do I gain any real advantage by having him there?
Oh, question about tickets and suchDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 9:56 AM
In my experience, the registration ticket goes away if you immediately correct it and provide proof. Depending upon the jurisdiction and the severity of the speeding ticket, the lawyer may or may not be a benefit, at least economically. However, since tickets can cost you in insurance, even life insurance now, I think it's cheaper in the long run to hire the lawyer for $150 and get the help. Chances are the lawyer will know the judge or prosecutor, or at least their procedures, and be more likely to reduce it the ticket to a non-moving violation or something similar.

What the officer thinks about liability is totally irrelevant in a civil dispute between the parties. The officer usually does not hear or consider all the evidence, and only thinks in terms of who violated the law, not apportionment of fault. That's not to say they don't have a pretty good idea about fault, but their opinion may simply not account for relative fault, as that is not what they are doing.

Another thing -- the issue of tickets gets more important when you potentially have several, as you get points against your license or may have a reduced chance of having the latter ticket reduced or thrown out. If you already have had one ticket in the last few years, I'd not chance it and use the lawyer.

in traffic court?mohair_chair
Dec 19, 2002 11:24 AM
Isn't traffic court typically staffed by attorneys acting as judges pro tem? It is in my very limited experience. And if you show up to traffic court with a lawyer, couldn't that be considered a red flag? I mean, let's say you get a judge who was feeling generous that day and might be willing to dismiss a case where a young lady tearfully begged for mercy. If a lawyer steps up to the table, said judge might lose his generous mood and instead demand a full legal argument, which in this case, would probably not fly. "I didn't see the signs" and "I didn't know" don't usually work unless the signs were obscured and the default speed limit for streets of that type was higher. Or if the limit was changed very recently.
very commonDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 11:36 AM
When I was in Missouri, I was in traffic court all the time helping out friends. I'd say 90% of those who did not simply mail in the fine have lawyers there. Judges are far, far more pleased to have a lawyer show up, rather than lay people who waste time because they don't know any procedures or have a remote clue what the law is or what "relevant" means.

Sometimes prosecutors or cops make mistakes, and it may take a lawyer to figure it out. I had a trucker client once who was ticketed for "passing in an intersection". Missouri, at least at the time, did not prohibit passing in an intersection. It might not be a good idea, but it wasn't illegal. I looked it up. The judge dismissed the ticket.

Also, prosecutors often cut deals with lawyers, even before involving the judge. The prosecutors might be friends of the lawyers, went to law school with them, or hopeful of some day getting a job with the firm a lawyer might be with; so, they might be more inclined to cut a deal than with a lay person.

So, IMO you are usually much better off with a lawyer. You might do well without, but I think it could only improve the odds.

Dec 19, 2002 9:59 AM
I'm not a lawyer, but I have been to court for speeding tickets. What on earth is court supervision? WHy would you need it? Are you fighting the speeding ticket? You can't fight the registration ticket.
Court Supervision = legalized bribery in the state of ILKristin
Dec 19, 2002 11:07 AM
In IL, if you pay a little extra for your speeding violation, the state promises to keep it off public record (as long as you get no new tickets for 90 days.)

I'm not fighting the speeding ticket. I can't--saw the radar. But its a stupid ticket just the same. I just moved here, and was on one street when I thought I was on another, so I didn't really look for signs. Anyway, I still can't believe the limit was 30MPH. Its a hugely wide, non-residensial street with few drivways or intersections in the middle of a business district. But for some reason, its zoned at 30MPH. I'm sure its a great speed trap.

The registration, I'm pretty confident they'll throw it out. I got the sticker within a week.
don't *fight* it, *negotiate* itDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 11:39 AM
Get a lawyer to go and cut you a deal to pay a higher fine in exchange for a non-moving violation reduction of the charge. It's pretty easy, unless you have a bad record or really pissed off the officer.

That way, if you have another ticket you can't get reduced, you'll not get yourself into trouble.

It's all perfectly legal and ethical. That's how the system works. Plea bargains happen every day.

First off........Len J
Dec 19, 2002 9:36 AM
glad you're OK.

I agree with Doug, it sounds like new driver itis.

I have always been in favor of:
1.) Tougher tests to obtain your license including, Actually driving on the street, driving on the freeway, driving in traffic, driving in bad weather, driving at night.

2.) I am also in favor of periodic random retesting for all drivers and age specific mandatory retesting.

I'm gonna bite!!rollo tommassi
Dec 19, 2002 10:07 AM
Only because I 'know' Kristin, and I feel we can have a reasonable chat. Kristin, the things I'm saying here are in no way an indictment of your feelings or actions. Firstly, I'm glad that you weren't on your bike and that no one was injured.

There is so much going on here in your story - that is what is making it so fascinating to me. Consider the sociological dynamics here - all the Push Buttons you could ever have, and it's not even on a talk show!
Let's break this down into manageable pieces:
Woman Driver

Suffice to say that these ingredients = Rant. haha!! (c'mon Kristin, I know you're giggling)

We must ask ourselves this: why was Kristin pulling across the lane? The accident description is not clear to me, and why was the accident Kristin's fault? Inquiring minds want to know.

Foreigner: becoming a driver in the US is, to an immigrant, a HUGE thing, oftentimes they are the first person in their family to ever own a car let alone be a legal driver. Whereas we 'natives' take this for granted, to them it is a privilege and this ethic is drilled into them from an early age. So a minor 'bump' such a this could totally mortify someone; she may have been thinking "I'll be deported for this!" And, in this post 9-11 world, immigrants in this country are by and large terrified. Critical thinking in a crisis? Perhaps she was petrified beyond all belief. Perhaps she was wondering why you put her in this situation (ie, life and liberty threatening)by crossing her lane.

I wonder if foreigners are actually better drivers in regards to cyclists?

SUV's: (RBR posters insert rant here) I do believe that the only way to eliminate this scourge is to truly classify them as TRUCKS, which is what they are, and require a Class D license. This would make life so much more fun for us in Chicago, as Trucks are banned on Boulevards - imagine Lakeshore Drive, Western, California, Ashland and Michigan Ave. without trucks! I'm just dreaming, though......

What if there were fewer licensed drivers? The thought that there would be 'fewer dollars for local government' is an Auto Industry Myth ("without us you'll all DIE!!!!") as taxes supporting municipalities come largely from sources not at all related to automobiles. So, yes, I'm all for it! May I live to see the day I complain about too many bikes taking up the road!

Driver testing: The only thing state licensing bureaus can test for is knowledge of laws and highway markings. How would you test for crisis response? I've gone thru CPR training, and am qualified for life support, but how will I respond in a crisis? I don't know...I'd like to think that I will respond reasonably, but even if I do freeze up, at least I am qualified to perform a life saving function. Perhaps the question we should be asking is "is this person qualified to act in a reasonable capacity to operate a vehicle without risk of injury to others?"

There is no incentive to be a good driver, though. Have your insurance rates ever gone down? I've never had an accident, let alone been at fault, yet my rates go up.

I better stop here! ;)
I'll just use Cross Street from now on...Kristin
Dec 19, 2002 11:22 AM
Rollo, excellent post. No doubt, that Rhody now knows exactly where I was and why I was pulling accross. Here's the skinny... Warrenville Road, where I work, dead ends at Finely. Finely intersects Ogden just 20 feet further south. So most people at my office--instaed of going all the way down to cross street --will just attempt to cross three lanes of traffic on Finely so they can turn left onto Ogden. Okay...that's what I was doing. And I won't do it no more.

The rest of your post was spot and, and made me chuckle. Its funny how my little prejudices can cloud my judgement and keep me from seeing through to the real issue. I bet you're right, she was probably terrified.

That "stripping all the paint off" suggestion sounds expensive. And I swear that the dealership told me it was solid Perhaps I misunderstood their meaning. In any regard, it doesn't seem to be scratched past the clear coat.
sounds like a really bad intersection!rollo tommassi
Dec 19, 2002 1:59 PM
In that case, it might be interesting to find out how many traffic incidents are reported there, and if there are plans to alleviate this. That way it's safer for everyone, in a car or on a bike.

I'm glad you liked my post - it is a stressfull time of the year anyway. Prejudice will take advantage of us in weak moments, no matter how cultured and progressive we are.
My favorite quote is from PW Botha (premier of South Africa and major proponent of apartheid): "Any man who says he isn't prejudiced is also a liar!"

Re. Saturn paint - If it's not past the clearcoat then youi should be fine. Rubbing alcohol should remove skid marks. For repainting the entire panel it may be more $, but my door looked like poop for years (until I sold it). It's hard to explain...but the new paint that covers the scrape is 'lower' than the original paint. We are talking microns here, but it is very noticeable.
There was a huge debate about old drivers here....empacher6seat
Dec 19, 2002 9:03 PM
being the land of the newly wed and nearly dead, there's a lot of conflict between people under 25 and people over 65.

Last year, people were outraged because seniors were having their lisences taken away if they couldn't perform a basic road test and pass. One lady failed because she couldn't turn her neck enough to shoulder check... and there was a huge outcry because people thought it was unfair, and that they were taking away her rights to freedom.

Another man failed in a different way. He passed the test, then as he was pulling into the parking spot at the motor vehicle branch, he apparently mistook the break for the gas and plowed right through the building, almost killing his wife who was waiting inside for him. This was in the paper, and the columnist who wrote it openly sided with the old man.

I think once people get to the point when they cannot function quickly enough to operate vehicles, they shouldn't be allowed to drive!!! It seems simple enough. Driving is a privilage, not a right. Not only do the rules of the road change from the time you get your lisence to the time you retire, but the vehicles these people are driving are far more advanced and powerful then what they had in their earlier years.

There's no way I would trust an elderly person who can barely see with a huge ass truck packing a V8.
re: A little rant, and a request for info from you ESL folks.zeke
Dec 20, 2002 1:14 AM
"I've encountered so many older foreigners who can't navigate tricky situations. "


Happy Holidays!
Be carreful what you wish for.Spoke Wrench
Dec 22, 2002 6:01 AM
The assumption is that if driver's licenses were more difficult to get, that certain people wouldn't have them.

But if the decision were made solely on the facts of this example, I suspect that Kristin would be the one losing her license (driving the wrong way on a two way street) and the confused foreigner would still be out there driving.

Sometimes it's easier to point out what we think is wrong than it is to say what would make things right.
LOL - I wasn't driving the wrong way on a two way streetKristin
Dec 23, 2002 9:00 AM
I was moving south (er...sort of southeast) in southbound lanes. I was crossing two lanes of stopped traffic in order to reach the left hand turn lane on the other side--a basic gas station manuever that I'm sure we've all attempted. I still believe that she should have seen me there--given that I was rolling slowly and had been there for more than 30 seconds. The fact that she didn't, doesn't equate to my losing my license or even bad driving on my part. Again, I think that Rollo was correct--this woman is proabably a new driver who made a new driver mistake. Goodness me, I remember some of my doozies that first year behind the wheel--a couple of which, could have ended badly. But this really was just an accident, and its only a scratch. This is my first new"er" car. It's akin to scratching a new bike the first time. You fret about it for a few days, then move on. And now the pressures off. My car is no longer perfect.

After Doug's post, I did check with my lawyer to see who was at fault. In IL this accident would be at least 80% my fault. Basiscally, the law says that it isn't her job to see me crossing her lane. Crossing lanes to make a turn is always a risk. I took that risk often at this particular intersection. It was the law of odds at work. You gamble...eventually you lose. I'm over it.

Oh, the damage. $800. They can't repair "impressions" in the plastic paneling. Its not technically a dent--the plastic was compressed in that spot. So to fix it means a new fender. No thanks.
I certainly wasn't intending to insult you.Spoke Wrench
Dec 26, 2002 8:45 AM
I was just making a joke. It occurred to me that you were driving east on a north/south street. For what it's worth, the last accident I had that was my fault was a similar incident. Some clown scraped the whole left side of his car on my front bumper while I was stopped crosswise in the street. Didn't do any damage to my car at all but his insuraance company didn't see any humor in the incident. It happened at about 35th and Archer in Chicago.
Have I been that wound up lately?Kristin
Dec 26, 2002 1:39 PM
Gosh. This has been a looooong Christmas season. And not the best in many ways. I guess I've been a little intense as a result. Having my car dinged didn't help. But I wasn't really insulted. The image of me going the wrong way "up" Finely is kinda funny--not very plausable or recommended, but funny. When I worked in the loop, I drove an older car. I would always offer to drive to the restaurant/whatever, but somehow we'd always end up in someone elses car. Later, I found out it was a conspiracy. They all said that I drove like a hack and that it scared them. Why? Hacks drive quite well, IMHO. No one appreciates good driving anymore. Do you live in Chicago or were you just vacationing on the south side?

Now this is funny. A car drifted into my lane this morning. I tooted and the driver pulled back over into his own lane. As I passed, I saw that it was a MAN who was brushing out his BEARD in the MIRROR. HA! I will accept beers and apologies from all the men on this board who have made woman driver jokes.
I used to work on the south side.Spoke Wrench
Dec 27, 2002 7:17 AM
I did insurance inspections and my territory started at Madison Street and went south to the city limits. Nice neighborhood! At that time (early 70's), race relations were somewhat less congenial than they are now. After dark, the Chicago Police went two officers to a squad car and two squad cars together. Three languages were commonly spoken on the south side and none of them was English. Also, to put it into perspective, I had just moved from Ames, Iowa where my wife and I had rented a house for a whole year and had never even bothered to get a key for the front door. I think that the Ames Police Department at that time was a meter maid.

Today I drive a school bus for a bunch of rich, surburban, middle school kids. The first day that I drove the bus a bunch of them made a group effort to intimidate me. It didn't work.
re: A little rant, and a request for info from you ESL folks.Duane Gran
Dec 23, 2002 1:14 PM
If I went to France and tried to take a driving test I would expect the test to be given in French and for the instructor to converse with me in French. If I failed to read or understand French I would expect to fail the test. Seems pretty simple to me.

I understand (to some degree) the frustration and challenge that newcomers must face in this country, but I don't think it is unfair to expect a person to be conversant in English before they operate heavy machinery in public. In the larger picture, I think drivers licenses are way too easy to obtain in the United States.