I was having lunch in a restaurant on Sunday, and my table overlooked the parking lot. I noticed a lovely white Cadillac there, circa 1990, driven by an older woman. She talked to a man there for a while, and then drove out.
Following my meal, I caught up with her again about a block away. Someone had backed a Honda CR-V out of a driveway, and it was obvious that neither Cadillac nor Honda driver had seen the other, possibly because there was a parked car in the way. It broke my heart to see that otherwise immaculate Cadillac: the passenger headlight was broken, and the car was heavily gouged down its side all the way to the back bumper. Given its age, it's probably a writeoff.
Two things should not have happened. The Honda driver shouldn't have backed out blindly, and the Cadillac should not have been scraped from stem to stern. Assuming the driver hadn't been able to avoid the crash entirely, the Cadillac shouldn't have sustained much more damage than just its lights and possibly its front fender. This was a driver who didn't react once her car was hit. Rather than slam on the brakes, it appears that she continued to drift along. Her car was stopped easily 70 feet up the block from where the impact had occurred.
I don't know why the Honda driver backed out blindly: given the seat height in those vehicles, he or she should have been able to catch a glimpse of the Cadillac over the compact car parked at the curb. I don't know why the Cadillac driver didn't stop: perhaps a distraction in the car, perhaps looking the other way, perhaps old enough that her reaction time isn't sufficient anymore.
No matter what, this didn't have to play out the way it did. When are our governing bodies going to stop worrying about emissions tests on five-year-old cars, and stop ticketing tuner car owners for having little blue lights on their windshield washers, and focus instead on first passing only competent first-time drivers, and then periodically testing all drivers, regardless of their age?
This time it was only sheet metal, but either one of those vehicles could have instead been a bicycle or a motorcycle. And somewhere, a family might well have received that knock on the door, and a police officer on the other side going over the words he has to say.