The Shyness Project

Collisions and Phone Calls

My first day of school started with a bang.

Literally.

For the first time, I was rear-ended on the freeway.  I was alone in the car and was on my way to my apartment before school started.  In my rearview mirror I noticed the silver car speed behind me, accelerating too fast to slow for the traffic, getting too close to me, and I thought please don’t hit me. Brakelights. Then, WHAM!

My mind shut down for a moment.  What just happened?  Did I really just get hit?  Yeah.  What do I do now? 

I saw the driver behind me switch lanes and edge toward the shoulder.  Dazed, I tried to follow her, but as I tried to get over to the right lane, an impatient driver sped through that lane around me, causing me to swerve back to the left to stay in my lane.  Soon enough, a bus in the right lane slowed for me so I could get over, and I did, pulling to the shoulder.

We got out of our cars slowly, nervous to approach one another.  She immediately admitted fault saying it was all her.  I said I was a little shaken up and had never been in an accident like this before.  We exchanged all the necessary info, noted the damage to my bumper, and then returned to our respective cars and went on our business.  I felt very wary behind the wheel afterward, and stayed in the right lane until I got back to my apartment to call my mom.  She advised me to call the insurance company right away and report the claim, and even though I wasn’t eager to get on the phone with them, I did.  No one answered though so I left a message and headed out to my first day of class this semester.

At school, I managed to talk to and introduce myself to one person next to me, one of the few females in the Criminal Justice class.  I told her about my morning with the accident and she said that her friend got hit on her 21st birthday before.  We talked about our majors and career ideas; she wants to be a police officer.  I thought of asking her if she wanted to exchange contact info, but I was afraid of asking too soon so I didn’t.  I don’t truly feel like I’ve made a friend in class until we’ve switched numbers and emails, and I usually do that right away, but there are times when I have a harder time asking.  I’m planning to do that soon though. That was my only class for the day, so I headed home after that.

One of the main reasons I’ve always had some fears with driving is because I’ve feared getting in an accident.  Well, that finally happened, but luckily this experience wasn’t too terrifying and I didn’t get hurt.  What I’ve realized though, is that the number of phone calls you have to make afterward is one of the worst parts.  I had to make and receive a lot of calls throughout the week and the week after with the insurance company and the estimate place.  I found this to be very draining, and I got quite stressed some days from being on the phone so much all day, relaying what happened.  But when I had to call people, I did it in front of one of my close friends, and I did it right away, which is something I’d learned to be helpful from my 2011 Phone Phobia experiment in my Shyness Project.  I wouldn’t allow myself the time to think or worry about what I was doing, which made it easier to call even though I still dislike doing it.  The people I talked to were very nice though and seemed genuinely concerned that I was ok after the accident.  After I finished calling the insurance company for the last time at the end of the week, one of my close friends helped de-stress me by doing a silly thing with a cookie. She tried to inch the cookie down her forehead and into her mouth, which was quite amusing to watch, even more so when my other close friend tried doing it too.  I laughed and felt more relaxed, grateful that the accident wasn’t fatal and my life hadn’t been changed for the worse that morning.

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11 thoughts on “Collisions and Phone Calls

  1. Great post. Good point with all the phone calls and organising that needs to be dealt with in a situation like that.

    The same happened to me a few months ago, just in a traffic cross. I stopped for red light, the car behind me didn’t:-) It was a mild bump with no visible damage to my car. I had a notebook and pen in my car I use for work so I went out, checked my car, wrote down the number plate and got their names and phone number just in case, and back in the car before the traffic light turned green… as if it happened to me every day and I totally knew what to do:-)

    I used to be very nervous of driving too, and what I think now is: for good reasons! I felt I didn’t have a proper overview, was prone to overlooking important details (as I was drowning in details) and that my auto-reactions were not automatic enough (e.g stop for red light, stop for stop sign). I tried to calm down and tell myself that ‘everybody feel like that, that’s just how it is to drive’. But now I think I was right in my worries, and that was why I had several accidents…I have had at least 3 at-fault accidents (material damage) depending how you define accidents, and lost my driver’s licence on one of these occasions (had to retake it).

    I have lots of little safety procedures built in now when I drive, and I am a good/fairly safe driver today because of that, so I am not nervous anymore.

    • Thank you Mados for your very thoughtful comment!

      Sorry to hear you had to go through a little accident of your own a few months ago, glad it was just a mild bump though! The only time I had gotten hit before this was when I was driving and had stopped at a stop sign while the person behind me didn’t, similar to your story! And that’s great that you knew exactly what to do and were able to get all the necessary info so quickly. I have a much better idea of what I need to do now after going through this incident as well.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. :) I’ve always been a cautious driver but I’m even more on the lookout now and try to be more of a defensive driver. Thanks for reading and writing and have a good rest of your Sunday!

      • Thank you! (My little accident wasn’t traumatic at all, on the contrary… It boosted my self confidence to handle an unexpected situation so surprisingly professional!)

        It sounds like your handled your accident well too, and learned from it. You may be happy some day that you had it, in case you run into a worse accident and then you already know what to do!

        ‘Defensive driver’, that calls up some entertaining visions;-) I wish I could defend myself against speeding & pushing drivers when I drive my car.

        Long time ago, in around year 20o1 I bought an extremely cheap Fiat 127 from 1972. It had had the back seats taken out, and a wooden plate behind the front seats, so it was made into a ute like car. There was a huge projector mounted on the wooden plate, pointing rearwards and connecting to a home made wooden panel near the driver’s seat. The panel had a big button that turned on the projector… The guy who sold the car said he used it to get rid of drivers that were pushing him from behind at night time. He just needed to turn it on once, and then they didn’t drive close to him again!

        (the projector’s primary purpose was to be a work light for doing night work outside)

        Thanks for sharing your experiences too:-)

  2. That first time of learning all the steps and procedures for handling problems can be tough… but once you realize that it’s just a matter of following a whole bunch of steps, it’s not as overwhelming.
    I just got off the phone with my daughter…she just got her first driving ticket a few minutes ago, and didn’t have her proof of insurance in the car…very overwhelmed reaction.
    Someday, these challenges will be stories you tell to others, but at the time, they don’t feel so good. Good for you for just going through the steps that need to be done…a really positive accomplishment! Life is a process of learning skills and competencies, just doing the best we can in each moment…it sounds like you’re “progressing” along in a positive way… chin up……. Kathy : )

    • Yeah I definitely have a much better idea of what to do now that I’ve been through this experience. Sorry to hear about your daughter, hopefully there isn’t too much of an added penalty for not having the proof of insurance in the car.

      I love what you said about life being a process of learning skills and competencies and doing the best we can in each moment along the way. Thanks so much for writing Kathy and hope you have a lovely rest of your Sunday as well! :)

  3. I’m so glad to know you are okay. That bus driver was paying attention! It is definitely unsettling to have your first accident. I’ve been driving for a long time and I’ve had a few small accidents and I still find it unsettling.

    Here’s a hint when it comes to all the communication that’s necessary with the insurance company. Write down all the pertinent details about the accident on a piece of paper that you carry with you if you need to go to the Police station or insurance company. Names, addresses, phone #s, license numbers, a description of the accident, time, place, date, who was at fault. I also make a little diagram I can refer to. You can have it handy when you’re answering questions on the phone or in person. That way you’re not trying to remember all the facts.

    I find if I write all the stuff down, I decrease most of the anxiety that can come from accidents. And my insurance company has always been pleasant to me even if I’ve been at fault.

    Best wishes to you!

    • Thanks so much Donna for your concern and for your lovely comment! Yes, I’m glad he at least noticed what happened and let me over.

      I did exactly that, and I agree that it was very helpful. :) I had all the details, numbers, etc on a piece of binder paper in my notebook and had it out whenever I was talking to insurance or anyone else. Thanks for pointing out how helpful that can be, I didn’t think to make that point in my post.

      It definitely helps to have all the info down and on paper rather than just in your memory. Thanks again for your response, and best wishes to you too!

  4. Barbara Markway on said:

    Hey, Brittany! I just figured out you’re blogging again. Yea! I had an accident when I was 16–scared me more than anything. Not fun! Glad you are okay and sounds like you handled it well. Thanks, too, for your last FB message. It was good to hear how you’re doing. I’m bad at keeping up with things, so sorry I didn’t reply. I think about you often!

    • Hey Barb! Yep I’m trying to get back into blogging regularly again. Thanks I’m glad it wasn’t a bad accident and that I was able to figure out everything I had to do afterward. Thanks for your lovely comment!

  5. Andrew Wood on said:

    Geez, I’m glad you’re OK, Brittany! You did everything correct: get out of traffic (safely), note the license plate number and insurance info, and call your insurance agent.
    Call me back when you get a chance.

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