What to do when minding your own business, on your daily commute, a route you’ve driven a hundred times before, when all of a sudden, “BAM!”. Something hits you from behind and your tranquil morning turns into an adventure. Thus was my predicament this morning.
Vicenza Ovest, Viale del Sole, essentially a northbound spur of the highway, or Tangenziale, which parallels the Autostrada A4 Venezia – Milano. Traffic on this bypass is forced to stop for the first time on it’s southern course around the city at a traffic light, right outside a big supermarket complex. So all the traffic lines up waiting for the light to change; a long line of cars, the guy in front of me, the guy behind me, we’re sitting there waiting, when a Ford Focus just plows into the back of the guy behind me shunting him into my rear end.
I rarely even see an accident, let alone witness one. So to be involved in one was even more of a shock. Fortunately, the whole process is pretty straight forward as long as everyone keeps their cool, there’s no flaming wreckage, and no one is seriously injured.
1) Keep Calm – Not a single person involved wanted this to happen. Most freaked out is the occupant of the vehicle causing the accident. She certainly didn’t plan to destroy two vehicles today, it just happened. The guy she ran into, who in turn ran into me, was in a company car on the way to a job. He was the coolest of all of us. Retrieve reflective vest and warning triangle. Make sure everyone is okay. Call the Polizia and request an ambulance, take pictures for insurance purposes, and wait for assistance to arrive. The Polizia Locale are the first on scene, followed by an Ambulance for the injured (broken wrist) driver of the Ford Focus that caused the accident, and then the Military Police because of my affiliation accompanied by the Carabinieri (National Police) and an interpreter.
2) Follow instructions – Turns out the Vicenza Polizia Locale have a sort of mobile accident response office on wheels. They show up after about 15 minutes and take stock of the situation, quickly determine exactly what happened – Car A plowed into Car B which was shunted forward into Car C (Car C is mine…). Everyone agrees to this, and we proceed to fill out what roughly translates as a “friendly” police report – where no one contests anything anyone else says. One by one drivers of each vehicle get into the police van, sit on a nice couch with a table, and fill out the paperwork. Afterwards, because my vehicle is the only one in a drivable condition, I’m free to go, paperwork in hand.
3) Call the Insurance Company – I immediately contacted my insurance company who immediately directed me to a contract local garage. Having scanned them copies of the police reports and filled out a diagram of the accident scene, complete with pictures, they determine that I’m good to go pending their investigation.
4) Visit the Body Shop – Because I’m not at fault, I don’t even pay a deductible. The body shop determines my bumper needs to be replaced (unless I want a permanent imprint of my license plate and outline of an Opel Astra’s front end on my bumper for ever), orders the part, and schedules the work for next week. Golf should be good as new in less than five days.
I realise how fortunate I am. Accidents can be really nasty. People can be seriously injured, or worse. Road rage. Reckless driving. Icy Roads. Today, nothing could have prepared any one of us involved from what happened. Maybe the Ford Focus wasn’t paying attention. Maybe she was distracted. We’ll probably never know. Two cars had to be towed. One lady was taken to the hospital. It could have been much worse. However, everyone was calm, polite, and clear-headed. The local police were friendly and helpful. They did their jobs, and got everyone on their way as quickly as possible. Was it a traumatic and stressful experience? Absolutely. But I drove away feeling good about what could have been a really bad situation.