My girl is ok.
She has grazes on her chin and a swollen sore arm, from where both airbags went off. When she called to tell me about the accident (every parent’s worse nightmare – the words “Mum, I’ve had an accident” send chills down your spine), I immediately wanted to rush to her. However, she didn’t need me there (her friends were with her) and I could barely walk, due to blisters on the soles of my feet from an ill-advised 20kms on the Bibbulumun Track that day. Hardest thing to not go. Incidentally, this is the child who got held up at knife point at her work and refused to let me come there, either. She has an elfin, waif-like appearance but there is steel inside when it counts.
It turns out that her father had arranged comprehensive insurance for her old car and, even though the surcharge is amazingly high (she is under 25) and the book value will be low, she won’t be having to finance all of a new (old) vehicle. It could have been so much worse.
Of my two daughters, I think she is the safer driver and I have never had any worries about her driving while under the influence of anything or even texting, for that matter. This accident was purely an error of judgement and when I found out where it occurred, I could easily see how even an experienced driver might have made that mistake. She was waiting to turn right, with no filter arrow, at the bottom of a slight incline. The cars coming towards her were travelling down the incline, with a feeder lane leading off to the left. From the vantage point at the lights it can look as though vehicles are taking the exit lane, rather than coming straight on. She thought she saw the vehicle indicate to turn left but it was coming straight on and hit her right hand front side as she started to make the turn.
I do actually wonder if the vehicle had initially signalled to turn left and then the driver changed his mind; one blip of the indicator can be enough to convince an inexperienced motorist when those of us with more years of driving under our belt defensively would wait to be absolutely sure he was committed to the turn. But it doesn’t matter. She was hit by cops in an undercover car and, after making sure she was ok, they gave her a ticket straight away. If it had been any other driver, both drivers probably would have been ticketed. From anecdotal lore and from my own experience it seems that when there is an accident in those circumstances, with no documented proof, both drivers get cited for failing to pay due care and attention.
Certainly, I remember five years ago, when I was driving the bus home and got hit in almost the same circumstances. In my case, the light had turned orange and I was making the turn after assuring myself that vehicles were stopped in the oncoming lanes; a driver came up behind the stopped line of traffic in the left lane and swerved into the right, gunning it to get through the light on the red. He hit me broadside on and was convinced it was my fault, in spite of witnesses (including the girl who was coming across the other light on the green and who would have been hit by him if my bus wasn’t there.) They gave both of us a ticket!
I think very probably it was my daughter at fault and that inexperience caused her to make a mistake. But hopefully she will learn from this just how easily accidents can happen and it will make her a better and safer driver in the long run. And I hug her closer still to me, cherishing that which I might have lost.