Roadtrips & Driving TipsTravel

Why Every Car Should Have A Hitch And Every Driver Should Have A Camera

DRIVING ODDITY #5: How A Trailer Hitch Saved My Life

Yesterday on my way to work, I was rear-ended while driving with tens of thousands of other drivers during the morning rush-hour on I-65 headed toward downtown Nashville. I was not hurt. And, amazingly, there was NO damage to my vehicle. The other guy’s vehicle wasn’t so lucky, however.

There are a few lessons I learned from this little incident, like:

  • What to do when you get in an accident
  • What items affixed on your car can prevent your vehicle from sustaining any damage
  • What factors might prevent the accident to begin with

Allow me to share them with you now…

So, there I was, in the next-to-the-fastest lane (2nd from the left), and most of the way I had the same big silver-colored monster-SUV behind me.

Lynnette, the day she bought her 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee.Most of the way the middle-aged male driver was keeping a fair distance behind me, in preparation for the constant stop & go pattern we were all faced with on this morning.

By stop & go, I mean 60-70 mph for a good mile or two, then down to a drastic 10-15 mph all of a sudden in order to accommodate merging traffic at every major interchange, AND reckless drivers who were eager own the road and get where they were going faster than we were allowing them to go.

Screech, Bang, Crash!
The SUV that rear-ended me during rush hour traffic on the way to work. Here, the driver, a VERY nice gentleman, was writing down his information for me, but we never reported it as an accident, nor turned it in to our insurance companies. I don’t know if Mr. Big SUV Man behind me just took his eyes off the road for a second, or what, but after our 3rd or 4th bout with the stop & go’s, he didn’t notice fast enough that this time I was really STOPPED, and he subsequently slammed into my backside.

Evidence of Lynnette's 'bumper crunch' incident on the way to work. Truth be told, I saw it all happen from my rearview, and I think he literally slammed to a full and complete stop within a MILLIMETER of actually hitting me, only my trailer hitch (that sticks out a good 6 inches from my rear bumper) was pushing into his plastic bumper so fiercely that AFTER he had come to his complete stop, the plastic bumper actually gave way and was instantaneously PIERCED like a bullet by the metal hitch, causing his car to suddenly JOLT forward by the release of pressure — while surging my vehicle ahead a good foot or so. (Fortunately I had stopped several feet back from the vehicle in front of me, so pushing me 1-2 feet forward did no damage in the front.)

Anyway, the lessons I learned:

1. Run, do not walk, to your nearest auto dealership, U-Haul, or mechanics shop and have a trailer hitch installed on your vehicle! I base this not JUST on my own experience, but on the experience of the ONLY three other people I’ve discussed this accident with… ALL of them said they had been in similar situations once, where it was trailer hitch that ultimately saved their cars from any damage and only damaged the car that hit them. That’s 100% of the people who at this very moment know about my accident! There are no better odds as to the effectiveness of a trailer hitch in rear-end auto accidents, right?!

2. Always carry a camera (disposable, digital, film — doesn’t matter) either on your person or in your vehicle at all times. The first thing I did (after making sure that I didn’t pee my pants!) was to use my trembly, shaky hands to take several photographs of the wounded vehicle. I didn’t want him coming out of the woodwork months later claiming the damage was a) greater than it was, or b) my fault. Turns out, he’s a very nice man who happens to run a very reputable business here in town. (Since I had taken digital photos of the damage to his vehicle, I offered to e-mail him my photos, and I was able to find his company name and website from his e-mail address.)

Driving Pet Peeves
…Now, wanna hear some of my pet peeves about drivers? (Several of which would have prevented today’s little “incident”.)

UPDATE 8/23/05: Small world… a big honkin’ SUV merged into the lane next to me on I-65 this morning, and I noticed it was none other than my friend with the formerly punctured front grille! I’m happy to report that his grille now looks fine… and the vehicle appears good as new!