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By Jordan W. Charness

Statistically, most car accidents with injuries happen to people in the 18- to 25-year-old category. In fact, every time there are collisions involving young people, people assume that these newer drivers were the cause of the accident. Of course, that is not always the case.

Here’s an example: two young men, who we will call Bill and Jim, were good friends. Bill was 21 years old and Jim was just 19. Bill had recently bought his first car and was anxious to show his friend Jim what it could do. Unlike many young drivers, Bill was more impressed with the safety features of his new vehicle than with its apparent performance factors. It did have some cool safety features. In addition to the usual ABS and multiple air bags it also had intelligent cruise control as well as a back-up camera and screen.

The two friends were driving in the third lane of a three-lane highway. At the same time, Neil, a 45-year old driver who had rented a small truck to move furniture from his old house to his new one, and who was unfamiliar with the controls and the new neighbourhood, got lost on his way to his new house.

By the time he noticed the highway exit he needed to take, he had passed it by about five metres. He jammed on the brakes and pulled over. He looked into his rear-view side mirrors and not seeing any traffic decided to back up to the exit so that he could get off the highway where he was supposed to have exited in the first place.

Unfortunately, Neil failed to see that there was 18-wheel truck coming towards him at about 100 km/h. The driver of the 18-wheeler did not expect to see a rental truck driving backwards, and slammed into him.

The resulting impact threw Neil’s rental truck across two lanes of traffic where it impacted Bill’s brand-new car. Bill had been travelling at the speed limit, properly and safely. The only reason that he was in the third lane was because he had passed a car in the centre lane and was just beginning to cross back to the centre lane after the pass.

At the end of it all, Bill’s new car was jammed between the guardrail and Neil’s rental truck. Bill managed to escape through the driver’s door but poor Jim was stuck inside the vehicle. It took rescuers two hours using the Jaws of Life to extricate him and he was taken to the hospital. The car was demolished. The rental truck was a write off and too, and even the 18 wheeler suffered serious damage. Fortunately, the only injury was to Jim who will survive.

The above story is a slightly fictionalized account of a real traffic accident that happened recently. The driver of the rental truck was charged with dangerous driving causing injuries, a criminal offence that could lead to many years in jail.

Sometimes, even when a young driver does everything right, an older driver’s bad decision can lead to tragedy.

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