If there is one thing my family can attest to, it’s that I am fantastic with lectures on driving safely. They’ve heard them all. The perils of texting and driving. Why following too closely is a fool’s errand. And don’t get me started on blind spots.
So you can imagine I had no fun enjoying that bite of crow when I recently got in a wreck that was completely and totally my fault.
First off, no one was hurt. My son was in the car with me, and he was a little shaken, as this was the first (and hopefully last) car wreck he’s ever been in. And the damage to the vehicles, while unfortunate, was not catastrophic, as both of our cars were driveable after the incident.
And don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting my family took delight in the fact that I caused an accident. I just know that they have heard the lectures from me for years about how there are two kinds of accidents: Ones you couldn’t have possibly avoided and ones you could have avoided but you didn’t. And here I was firmly entrenched in the latter camp.
It was a foggy, rainy Sunday. My wife and daughter had headed out to go shopping. Prior to leaving, I gave them one of my surely appreciated driving lectures. Roads are slick. Visibility is low. Keep those eyes moving! Alas, I should listen to my own lectures.
My son and I decided we would head to the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History in downtown Charleston. It’s a small but wonderful museum at the College of Charleston with amazing and cool exhibits, and definitely a hidden gem in Charleston. Fun fact: My Facebook profile picture is of my kids standing in front of a skeleton of a giant cave bear that is on display there. OK, that fact is probably not that fun.
Anywho, we were driving downtown and searching for parking. I figured that since it was a rainy Sunday, parking would be fairly plentiful near the museum. As I approached the building, I decided to see if there were some spots on a side road. I turned right and was traveling along, and saw an open spot on the road to my left. As I went to turn, I saw something in my peripheral vision. Yeah, that would be a car, in a left lane that I did not actually realize was there, as plenty of Charleston’s downtown streets are like 6 feet wide but still designed for two cars for some reason.
Now, I know it sounds like I am giving excuses for getting hit. I’m not. I screwed up. I completely own that. When the police officer showed up and asked the other driver and me what happened, I spoke first. “Yeah, this was my fault. I pulled in front of him and didn’t see him, and he didn’t have time to stop.”
I know conventional wisdom is that you should never admit to fault at the scene of an accident. But I have always told my kids that when you screw up, you own it. And I screwed up. So I owned it.
The officer wrote up an accident report, noting that I was the one who caused the accident. And he is correct. I have filed the appropriate paperwork with my insurance company, and we will hopefully have all this behind us in due time.
It’s an unfortunate life hiccup, but one you just have to deal with. I guess if there is a silver lining, I can tell the rest of my family that, “Hey, accidents can happen to the best drivers out there.” Even if I may have to do some convincing to them that I am still one of the best drivers out there…
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike.