Beware The 40-something Distracted Mother!

Friday, 5pm.

I was in my Alfa Sprint waiting to turn right at a T-intersection just near my house. I was waiting because a blue Mitsubishi was coming from my left along the street I wanted to turn into. The blue Mitsubishi has it’s right-turn indicator on. She’s going to turn into the street where I’m T-intersectionwaiting.

I’m the orange car and she’s the green one in the diagram to the right.

Suddenly, she’s heading straight for me! She’s cutting the corner and obviously hasn’t seen me! There’s absolutely nothing I can do as her Mitsubishi badge is heading straight for my RHS headlights. It happened so suddenly, so innocuously and there’s no time to reach for the horn in the Alfa.

Thankfully, she finally sees me and comes to a halt. She’s just inches from the front of my car. There’s nobody behind me so I back up to give her room to go around. Her window goes down as she draws up next to me and she’s extremely apologetic. She has a pre-teen in the front and a smaller kid in the back.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. I must have been in another world!”

In my head, I’m nodding furiously and shaking fists in her general direction. In real life, there’s no damage done and she’s been very conciliatory straight away, so I just smile.

“No problem”, I say. “Everything’s OK.”

We go our separate ways.

I’ve only had the car registered for a week and already it was nearly taken from me! I count my blessings as I pull up at home.

Saturday (today), 7:30pm

I’ve just called in to our local shopping centre. Chicken potato chips and a Coke. Nothing unusual. The Sprint is gleaming in the car park as I’d just washed it in preparation for a small photo session I planned for the next morning (Mark McC, take note 🙂 )

I reversed out of my parking spot and I was changing out of reverse gear when I saw a red object, car sized, moving towards me. It was the lady who had parked on the other side of the car park and she’s reversing out of her spot – right towards my front RHS guard and wheel!

This time I had just a second longer so I thrust my arm out to the centre of my steering wheel to sound my horn and let her know I was there.

This was not the best time to learn that the Alfa Romeo Sprint’s horn operates not via the central pad on the steering wheel, but via one of the stalks on the steering column 🙁

Her red Ford Focus proceeded at a slow pace to meet with my RHS front guard. A very small amount of damage is done, which I’m mightily annoyed about because while it might be my cheap, fun car, the body was accident-free and dent-free and that’s no longer the case now. I do want it fixed but I’ll be relying on her to some degree to do the right thing and lodge a claim with her insurer. My insurer won’t do anything as I only have this car covered for third-party damage. I’ll be contacting her insurer first thing Tuesday morning (Monday’s a public holiday here).

My tiny bit of damage, that I DO want fixed.

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Just like the previous lady, this one was a 40-something mother with two kids in the car. What do 40-something mothers have against Alfa Romeo Sprints??!!

Interestingly, her Focus has both a backup camera AND parking sensors and yet the car gave her no warning that I was there as she reversed towards me. And as you can see from the white paint I left on her car, the parking sensor is right near one of the white patches.

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She made a point of mentioning all the technology in the car that should have helped her avoid this incident and it got me wondering about whether people rely on this technology too much. I’ve often thought that too much tech makes people a bit lazy about the old-fashioned manual checks they should do when they’re driving. Today’s incident doesn’t do much to dispel the theory.

So that’s two 40-somethings ladies. One hit. One miss.

I’m getting a little fearful of taking the car out at all now. Sure, it’s small, but I didn’t think it was that small.

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19 Comments

  1. I was rammed on the beltway by one who didn’t notice 5000 cars stopped in front of her because she was fiddling with the heater in her car. I’ve had back problems ever since.

    To be fair though, the worse accidents I’ve seen were by men, probably in their twenties, driving too fast in fast cars (two mustangs and a BMW). One of the Mustangs ended up 12 ft off the ground stuck in a tree (and like the scene in interstellar when the spinning spacecraft is spreading debris everywhere, this one while spinning across the road, put their starter motor into my radiator)

    Sorry about your car. At least you were ok.

  2. Ugh, so sorry to see this, Swade! I hope insurance covers it properly. At least it wasn’t worse.
    I hope you’re still inspired, artistically…

  3. I’ve had similar results with smaller cars. It is very frustrating when you can’t do anything to stop the other driver. I almost haf an elderly man back into the XJ-S at the post office. It all happened in slow motion. Thankfully he finally heard my horn.

  4. I keep toying with removing those mandated God awful ugly 5MPH impact bumpers from the ’73 Sonett. But I know the day I do somebody in a car park will bump into the FRP body at 4MPH. Hope you get some satisfaction from the insurance.

    1. My ’71 Sonett does not have the large bumpers and I am constantly concerned that some driver who is not paying attention will end up hitting my car. Which is why I try to drive it only the weekends or times when I can afford heavy traffic. The fact that the car is bright yellow does help its visibility…I hope.

      Glad your damage was minor, Swade.

  5. I also sometimes wonder whether the ever more elaborate safety and convenience features of modern cars lul people into a false sense of security. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many of these systems and devices have reduced possible instances of serious injury and prevented deaths on our roads and I do not advocate their removal.
    I rather wish that drivers become familiar with how they operate and their limitations. If you are driving well these safety systems should not come into play. If they do you should be alert to the fact you have done something innapropriate for the prevailing conditions.
    Tongue in cheek time. How carefully do you think we might all drive if there was a shiny, sharp spike in the centre of the steering wheel rising toward the driver?
    Here’s hoping the processing of the insurance claim and repair goes smoothly.

  6. To all the inventors out there…..

    All that’s needed is some sort of electric eye mounted on the inside of the windscreen in front of the driver that will track your eye movements. As soon as it detects (after a few seconds) you are not looking at the road ahead, alarms & brakes come on (or something similar)…..!!

    For most qualified drivers this would be annoying, but for those that ‘drift off ‘ it would be ideal………

  7. How much money did you save by opting for third party insurance over fully comprehensive?
    I have to say I’ve never had less than fully comp in this country…too many uninsured drivers on the road.

  8. That really sucks. I had an old duck in some oversized Peugeot wagon (not an suv) nearly change lanes into me the first day I drop my mx5. Just didn’t se me. Scary. Have to drive these little cars like they are a motor bike in this day of huge cars.
    Agree with the tech. Will kids these days know how to modulate brakes to prevent lockup? No, thanks to abs. Will they know how to catch s car that is losing control? No, thanks to esc.

  9. distraction? fear? deer in the headlights? I don’t know, but there was a horrendous accident last week just north of New York City where a woman with teenage daughters found herself caught on the railroad tracks on her way home from work….why? no one has said yet. was she rushing to get somewhere and tried to beat the gates? was she on a mobile phone call with someone? But whatever, she was’t aware of her surroundings.
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/02/04/nyregion/2015-02-04-metro-north-crash.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/nyregion/metro-north-train-crash.html

  10. How annoying for you, Swade. It sounds like you handled these incidents well.

    It could well be that people expect parking sensors to do all the work for them, as if it were a fully automated system. They should still be doing careful all-round observation and slow movements. Mind you, folk have been reversing into things since two blocks on rollers collided during the building of Stonehenge.

    I think the way these systems is advertised is partly to blame. It reminds me of when ABS (a fantastic invention) became very mass market when I was a wee lad – it does not in fact make it “impossible to skid” as the adverts claimed.

    Just to be fair to 40-something mother drivers, in my experience men are generally far more dangerous (and in particular deliberately dangerous) drivers than women.

  11. Bring it over here and Mrs Turbin will have a red-hot go at it with the Merc… and with absolute focus.

  12. Happened to me the other day, too. It was a 40 something year old mother and she did have mid-teenish kids on board. However, the precious body work nearly damaged was me, because I was on my push-bike in Elizabeth St, North Hobart. She, too, was apologetic but that would have been if sod-all comfort if we had collided and I’d hit the deck!

  13. I parked my Triumph Sprint behind my neighbor’s Chevy Subturban thinking “If he backs up, he’ll never see me..”, but I was just running in for a minute to feed my cat so…… A few minutes later, I heard a car start and a crunch! After my anger subsided, and we were talking, he said “You know, my parking sensor was beeping like mad, but it does it so often, when I’m not near anything, that I tend to ignore it…” Ain’t no substitute for being astute!

  14. Same thing happened when I was a kid on holidays in…..Australia..! Think it was Brisbane. We got the bus to Hertz. Rented a brand new Ford Falcon. Got in. Reversed out of the space. As my father gets ready to pull forward again, a woman – exactly how you describe with a young teen in the passenger seat – reverses straight into our back door and wing. She was in blue Toyota Corolla and explained that she was shouting at her son and not paying attention.

    That was 25 years ago and seems like yesterday.

    Btw, did I miss a post about the Sprint? Where did it come from?!

  15. Haha, being in “another world” meaning in a world where people drive on the other side of the road? According to a study reported in the Swedish movie “kitchen stories”, is unhealthy to drive on the right side of the road. Apparently, this doesn’t apply to cars.