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I Hate Concrete Dividers

12/04/05

  02:04:30 am, by Nimble   , 1610 words  
Categories: Thoughts, Common Sense

I Hate Concrete Dividers

Just realized something today. The only two accidents I've been in of any note, both of them involved concrete dividers.

One was with my Nissan Multi way back when. It was a miserable night, but I thought I had left enough time before leaving so that trucks would have a chance to sand. That was incorrect. I slipped on black ice going just under 50 on the northbound Deerfoot and started sliding towards the right; the roads are sloped for about 85-90, I would guess, so it was pretty significant.

I would have been fine if there was no concrete divider there. It's dividing the highway from the offramp, which is of marginal utility, but it's so close to the road that your tires won't bump into anything before your fender does. Nissan's have plastic bumpers, so they 'catch' on concrete, and I ended up spinning, and it struck the concrete twice more. I was eventually rescued by the only vehicle that would stop. Ironically enough, the sanding truck.

At least I was safe. Not having been in an accident ever before in my life, though, and this one being with myself, and not knowing how freakishly expensive bodywork is on a car (the biggest mechanical bill I've ever had was still under $500), I made some significant procedural mistakes.

I went to the body shop to get an estimate. It was way out of my league in affordability. They said I could reduce the cost by getting my own parts. So I went out to the junkyards with no luck, but settled on asking for parts through Clarke's, which is a great way to get parts, really. It took a while, though. There aren't a whole lot of Nissan Multis, and the few that are around don't die that often, so I got bumper assemblies eventually, and ended up having to compromise on colour.

So, a year and some later after managing to gather the parts while still working my job, I go back to the body shop, and they quote me higher by an amount equal to the savings my parts would have brought me. Well, I went elsewhere. The other place, A1 Autobody, was willing to compromise on what work was minimally necessary, and I said yes, and it was at that point that they asked me if I had filed a police report.

A what?

Okay, colour me a bit naive. It's okay. I've been through AMA's driving courses and can recall pretty much everything they gave us, right down to the Walt Disney driving videos, but I didn't remember anything about that. I suppose it was presumed that the police would show up on the scene or the insurance agents would take depositions and such. I didn't remember anything about filing police reports for >$1000 damage, and I didn't know enough about bodywork to know that I was looking at $3-4000 in damage (still stuns me, really).

So I go to rectify the situation. Most of the police officers I talked to on the phone were pleasant, and they told me to take the vehicle down to one of the local police stations, which I did. I was not prepared for the rudeness, accusations and unhelpfulness that I received upon going there.

He came out with all sorts of crap like did I have all my insurance documents with me back to the year I owned the car and all but accused me of trying to get away with a hit and run, all the while giving me the distinct feeling that he just wanted to scare and get rid of me. I mean, if I had done a hit-and-run, would he not be obliged to follow up on such a suspicious event?

I've been, to understate, a bit gun-shy about it ever since. On top of some of the interim time not being able to afford to fix it, anyhow.

Anyhow, the second accident, where I got sandwiched in-between two cars when the car behind me was accelerating to merge just as the car in front of me slammed on the brakes, I'd like to attribute to concrete barriers as well. Perhaps not to the same degree, but there was no possible way I could have gotten out of the way had I wanted to. On the merge from Macleod Trail to Glenmore East, there's a solid line of concrete on the right hand side, with no shoulder to speak of. No way for me to avoid what was coming, as I saw it in my rear-view mirror.

Just as a piece of advice for anyone doing the turn-off onto Glenmore from Macleod Trail... if you can, just don't go that way. Go up to Elbow and turn from there. Since they've basically taken out the intersection from the back of Chinook Center, there is simply no end to the traffic that comes by there until late at night, and a pretty short area for merging. Guaranteed, that contributed to the accident.

So, errr, I hate concrete dividers.

At least the ones they use in Calgary.

(If I'm not mistaken, the dividers they use over the mountain passes are much more sensible - they curve down to the base more gently, so if you ever ran against them, your tires would go up, and redirect you back onto the road... like dividers should)

...end whine :)

Comment by Adam:

The change to the intersection by Chinook (basically turning west from Macleod onto Glenmore) is better now. There's no merge with the traffic coming from further east so there's no chance of being schmucked trying to get over now as that lane doesn't disappear until you get to 14th. The exit behind the Chinook Centre has reopened but it's somewhat further down due to the new curve in the road giving people a lot more room if they're trying to go right. As for getting onto eastbound Glenmore from Macleod, I think that's just as miserable and your Elbow drive suggestion is a good one; it's easier than trying to get down to Blackfoot or Fisher Road and merge from there.

As for the cost of bodywork, yep, It's horrible. I've only been in two collisions and I've had a slightly different experience. The first time was in a car park where a driver pulled out in front of me without looking while in icy conditions. Since I was to his left (although I was on the through lane and he wasn't,) I got dinged with the responsibility when the inevitable collision occurred. We immediately went to the nearest police station and went through the whole reporting thing. Fortunately both vehicles were drivable and no one was hurt as both of us were going less than 20 kph. The police were pleasant and businesslike. I had no problems. The repair cost (from what I understand) was about $2500 per car and hit my insurance nastily for five years as the company recouped its costs several times over.

The second time was when a teen in an SUV ran a red and t-boned my car. In this case, both cars were quite dead, but (again!) no one was hurt. The police turned up, cleared up the scene and wrote the accident reports. Again, they did their job well and were very pleasant (at least to me -- I was pretty shocked at the time.)

Does this have anything to do with barriers? Er, no, not really, except in the last case the force of the impact forced the SUV into the centre divider, smashed its axle, flipped it and caused one of its wheels to break off and bounce down Crowchild Trail. An impressive sight when I was calm enough to think about it.

Comment by ElTwo:

I remember with my first accident that I didn't really have a good idea of the procedure to follow in reporting either. I think that must have tweaked the desk-nazi when I went in to the district office. He was pretty snarky and unpleasant.

Ob-barriers: There was a Mustang high-centred on the right-side barrier of west-bound Crowchild Trail in front of Brentwood Mall Friday night.

Comment by Ritchie:

Insurance, apart from the personal liability insurance, seems like far too safe a bet for insurance companies. What is the difference between getting collision insurance and taking out a loan to get the repairs done yourself?

Adam, I'm envious of your experience with the police. I suppose, all in all, that gives us two good and two bad experiences, and you got all the good ones. Why? (You can make a reason up if you so choose *grin*)

The snarky one I encountered was at the police station down by Heritage Drive. Sad thing was I phoned ahead. I think the congenial one of the good cop/bad cop pair was tied up talking to other people.

That SUV thing sounds pretty spectacular. I don't have anything equivalent, but something spooky on the road during the Glenmore accident (which might explain why people were so distracted. I was more worried than distracted, with what turned out to be good cause), was that something was dragging something in the left lane that made sparks. Not a small bit of muffler sparks, but a lane wide of rolling sparks, like someone was towing a boat trailer with no wheels or something, but with no accompanying noise which would indicate that.

Glenmore East, much of Crowchild (especially since all the construction in the north) and a number of exit ramps have those bloody barriers right close to the road. I've, of course, come too close and personal to two out of three of those :)

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