Fender bender etiquette

By Miranda Lightstone-Styker

As I sit here listening to “Crash Into Me” by Dave Matthews, it’s more than just appropriate, it’s spot on. Now, don’t worry oh faithful reader, yours truly has not been in an accident, and I am also listening to a ’90s alternative radio station and have not fallen into the Dave Matthews cult of deaf followers.

What I am doing, however, is reflecting on the madness that was my drive home yesterday evening. Normally, I take public transportation throughout the week as it is much easier on my wallet and much easier on the psyche and my general health. However, Mondays are my car-change days and so I have to drive.

As I was making my way home yesterday I opted for the alternative streets, the side-streets and non-major motorways thinking it would help me in my quest for freedom and peace at home. Such was not the case.

In a particularly bad stretch that’s always full of stop-and-go traffic I came to a dead stop. I was literally sitting in a parking lot on the road. And in a stretch that would normally take less than 5 minutes (with no traffic) I sat for nearly an hour.

That’s right, oh faithful reader, an hour.

And why did I sit there on the road in my Infiniti G25X instead of cooking dinner at home? Because people don’t understand fender bender etiquette.

Along a stretch of maybe 3km of road there were 5 fender benders — count that: FIVE. All separate from one another and none of them damaging. They were all, quite literally, fender bumpers with zero damage — and yet they managed to bring traffic to a standstill. Why you ask, oh faithful reader?

Instead of going off on the rant I’d love to go on, I will instead list a few etiquette points to remember if and when you are next in a fender bender:

1 – Make sure you actually stop when you hit someone. Back up if you’re the bumper and give your victim a bit of space.
2 – MOVE YOUR CARS. Now, this is a very, very important rule in fender bender etiquette. I’m not sure why people think they are supposed to leave their cars jack-knifed in the middle of roads and intersections, blocking everyone — just don’t do it. Especially if your car isn’t damaged, just agree to pull over to the curb or shoulder or perhaps into a nearby parking lot. Just get your bloody business out of traffic.
3 – Leave your hazards on if you have to obstruct traffic. I understand that sometimes moving is impossible due to lack of space or damage to your poor car. Therefore it is common courtesy to alert others of your peril. And that’s what the hazard button is for — I know, shocking that it’s not just for light shows.

There’s really not much more to say on the subject. Really, it comes down to (once again) consideration for others on the road.

All five fender benders I came upon last night were positioned squarely in the middle of one lane or stretching across two, therefore holding up oodles of traffic. The drivers chatted idly in the middle of the road while those of us who actually wanted to go home for the night struggled to move around their stupidity and inconsideration.

I’m usually quite calm in traffic and take it as it comes, but what I saw and experienced last night was just infuriating and could have been avoided had those involved in the fender bumpers been kind enough to see the world around them and consider the impact they were having on other drivers.

Is it too much to ask that drivers look beyond the nose of their own cars to the world around them? Might help put an end to a few of those fender benders too. Just sayin’.

Drive on,
– M.


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One thought on “Fender bender etiquette

  1. Dan S says:

    Regarding point #2 – surely this is the considerate thing to do, but it is right for your own well-being? Do you have any support stating that it’s okay to move the evidence from its current state? I’ve read other sources which say that you should leave the cars exactly as they are so that police can better understand who is at fault.

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