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Tips For After An Accident and some Funny Insurance Claims

Most people wouldn’t expect to be involved in a car accident.  There are some driving habits which some drivers do have, illegal or otherwise, that would definitely make them more prone to having an accident.  With all the modern crash-avoidance safety equipment on-board new cars crashes still happen – whether it’s your fault or someone else’s.

So, what should you do after an accident has happened?  Here are some safe procedures you can make a note of:

  • Stop the car.
  • Turn off the engine.
  • Switch the hazard lights on.
  • Check for any injuries to yourself or your passengers.
  • Call the police and an ambulance immediately if anyone is hurt or if the road is blocked.
  • Share your name and address with everyone involved if the accident caused damage or injury.
  • Swap insurance information and details with the other driver(s).
  • Take down details of any other passengers and witnesses to the accident.
  • Try to find out if the other driver is the registered owner of the vehicle, and if they are not find out who the owner of the car is and get that information too.
  • Record the make, model, colour, and number plate of the vehicles involved in the accident or take pictures of them.
  • Record the time and date of the crash.
  • Record the driving conditions, including the weather, lighting, and road quality (such as road markings, whether it’s wet or muddy, repair of the road surface).
  • Record what sort of damage was caused to the vehicles and where. Use your phone to take pictures of the scene and the damage to the cars.
  • Record any injuries to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians.
  • Record the names and contact details of any witnesses.
  • Phone your insurance company as soon as possible – ideally at the time of the accident.

After the accident, submitting a claim for car insurance can be a bit of a stressful business, and it certainly pays to double check what you have said over the phone or have written on your claim form.  Here are some genuinely funny car insurance claim statements below:

  • A pedestrian hit me and went under my car
  • As I approached an intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before.
  • Going to work at 7am this morning I drove out of my drive straight into a bus. The bus was 5 minutes early.
  • I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way
  • I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel.
  • In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
  • I had been learning to drive with power steering. I turned the wheel to what I thought was enough and found myself in a different direction going the opposite way.
  • I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision and I did not see the other car.
  • I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
  • I saw her look at me twice. She appeared to be making slow progress when we met on impact.
  • I started to slow down but the traffic was more stationary than I thought.
  • I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.
  • I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.
  • My car was legally parked as it backed into another vehicle.
  • No one was to blame for the accident but it would never have happened if the other driver had been alert.
  • The claimant had collided with a cow. The questions and answers on the claim form were – Q: What warning was given by you? A: Horn. Q: What warning was given by the other party? A: Moo.
  • The accident happened because I had one eye on the lorry in front, one eye on the pedestrian and the other on the car behind.
  • The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.
  • The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
  • The pedestrian had no idea which way to run as I ran over him.
  • The pedestrian ran for the pavement, but I got him.

Designers, Please Explain This Feature

Over the Christmas and New Year holiday season, we went on a good old-fashioned road trip – well away from where all those horrible fires have been happening.  In keeping with old-fashioned road trips, we decided that this was a good time to give our 2000 Ford Falcon  AU a chance to show its paces. It’s been my husband’s doer-upper and mancave tinkering project for a while now, so why not? It certainly behaved itself nicely on the road and was comfy for long journeys.  However, it had one little design feature that puzzled me and certainly gave us something to talk about during the more tedious stretches of the road once we’d exhausted the topic of how appalling the fires are, what caused them, the smoke haze, etc. etc.

The feature in question in the boot.  The boot doesn’t have one of those old-school buttons that unlatches the boot on the boot door itself. Instead, you have to unlock the body of the car and put the key in the ignition and turn it on one click then press a button on the dashboard – which is rather faded on this 20-year-old vehicle.  Slightly fiddly, yes, but no worse than what you have to do with my mother-in-law’s Suzuki Kizashi  that uses an auto-unlock key fob.  The automatic key fob might seem like a brilliant idea when you’re approaching the back of the Kizashi with your hands full – and my mother-in-law loves this feature – but it’s a bit of a nuisance when you want to send one of the kids to go and get Gran her cardy out of the boot please, dear.  This means that the keys have to come out of wherever Gran’s put them and it takes a less experienced person to hold the fob in exactly the right way before the boot’s opened and Gran has to go and show the kiddies how to do it properly.

Anyway, back to the boot of the Falcon.  Despite the need to have the keys in the ignition to open the boot from the outside, the boot itself has a mechanical boot hatch release lever.  On the inside of the boot.  In a sedan.  A sedan where you can’t open the boot mechanically from the outside and where the body of the car has to be unlocked before you can open the boot. When on earth will you use this lever?

The lever is no good in the all too common scenario of accidentally shutting your keys in the boot. In fact, if you unlocked the Falcon’s boot, took the keys out of the ignition, locked the doors and then accidentally dropped the keys in the boot before slamming it shut, you would be in the poop, as you would have access to neither boot nor cabin.  So the mechanical lever was no good for that situation.

If you couldn’t get out of the car doors for some reason but you were inside the cabin of the sedan, you could possibly exit via the boot.  In the unlikely scenario that you opened the boot, took the keys out of the ignition again, then shut them in the boot, you could do the same. This would require you do fold the rear seats of the sedan flat and move the luggage out of the way first. Fortunately, the seats do fold flat, allowing access into the boot, although I haven’t tried this myself. The load-through slot that appears when you fold down the arm rest and the cupholders is far too small for anybody over the age of three to squeeze through. You could, in theory, reach the mechanical lever by reaching through the load-through slot but only if (a) you had arms like an orangutan and (b) the suitcases and the picnic basket aren’t in the way, as the boot release lever is nearer the front of the boot.

The only time that you would be able to use that release lever is if you were riding inside the boot of this sedan and the hatch door was closed.  Again, when would this happen?  In the rather dangerous and illegal case where you’ve got a sixth person needing to ride in the car and you’re out of seatbelts, you could smuggle that person in the boot.  This is NOT RECOMMENDED (although I’ll admit to having taken a passenger this way once over 20 years ago – and it wasn’t in Australia, either).  However, even then, the passenger riding in the boot wouldn’t want to open the hatch and get out while the car is moving.  He or she would have to push open the load-through slot and ask the driver to stop. Then the driver could also push the button to open the boot as well, so the lever wouldn’t be used anyway.  However, if everybody else had left the car and someone was still inside the boot, they could let themselves out – and the only times we could see this happening was if someone was trying to stow away on a ferry or sneak into, say, a music festival or military base without the gatekeepers noticing.

After much discussion, we figured that the only time you’d really want to use the inside boot release lever is if you had been kidnapped and shoved in the boot, and you wanted to alert other road users to the fact so that you can be rescued – or so you can jump out of the boot.

I am somewhat aghast that the designers built in a feature that is only useful in the case of being abducted or when doing something illegal.  Did they really think that cases of kidnapping are that common? Did they design a car that’s useful for sneaking in unofficially or for people smuggling? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING????

If anyone can throw any light on this feature, I would love to know. Please give us your best speculations in the comments!

 

The Perfect Form of Transport???

Here at Private Fleet, we keep an eye on trends in car design and the way things are shaping up.  At the moment, I reckon there are three biggies: fuelling systems, autonomous vehicles and sensors.

Let’s start with fuel.  We all know that the supplies of crude oil aren’t as big as they used to be and the ones that are left are frequently in places that are very hard to get at or are located in politically volatile countries.  This means that if we can cut down our dependence on non-renewable fuels, we’ll be able to keep on trucking the way we’re accustomed to.  We’ll also help cut down on greenhouse gases, which is supposed to stop global warming or climate change.

In our quest to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we’re trying a bunch of different things, all of which are getting a lot of attention in the automotive world.  Electricity is the hottest one at the moment, with a major push towards EVs and hybrids that use both electricity and petrol.  However, that’s only one of the three.  Just as well, as one has to ask where the electricity is coming from and how it’s being generated.  If it’s being pumped out by coal- or gas-fuelled power stations, then EVs aren’t the perfect green solution.  The other hot topic in fuel is to look for other things that can be used to make diesel and petrol that are renewable – biofuels.  The trick here is to find something that can be grown without taking land and water resources away from what we need to feed a hungry world.  Lastly, there’s the hydrogen fuel cell option, which doesn’t produce much in the way of waste but is a little on the fiddly side to produce and transport, although they’re working on that.

All in all, this suggests that the perfect transport of the future should be able to run on something sustainable that’s easy to get hold of, and that it should produce minimal waste, or at least waste that can be useful for another purpose.

The second hot topic is the all the innovations being added as active safety features and driver aids.  There seems to be a new one out every time I turn around.  Temperature sensors for automatic climate control, 360° vision and reverse parking sensors are old hat. Now we’ve got side impact detection and avoidance, lane change assistance, autonomous braking, even systems that detect when the driver is getting tired or annoyed.  They’re working on getting the car to listen to you, with voice activated commands for all sorts of things.

This suggests that the perfect transport of the future should have a ton of sensors for all sorts of things, should be able to react according to the input of those sensors without the driver having to do anything, and should be able to interface with the moods of the driver.

Lastly, we’ve got the topic of autonomous cars: ones that will steer themselves, pick the right speed, pick the right part of the road and all the rest of it all by themselves.  This is closely related to the improvements in sensors and driver aids.  If autonomous cars reached their full perfection, you’d be able to hop in when well and truly under the influence, tell it to go home and then nod off until you find yourself parked outside the front door.

If we all of these factors together, we can get an idea of what the designers are trying to come up with.  Let’s imagine what it would look like: something that runs on plant-sourced fuels and produces biodegradable waste that can be converted to fertilizer; has ultra-sensitive sensors for temperature, mood and upcoming hazards in practically a full circle; is voice activated and even does voice-activated acceleration and parking; and can think for itself even when the driver is exhausted or drunk.  Natural materials for the upholstery and a cheap production method would be an advantage as well.  It already exists: when I was a child in a rural town, we called this a HORSE.