Christmas night, Diane, on the way to a party, found herself in the fast line of the freeway with a car stopped in front of her and the brakes not working due to a patch of black ice. With cars and trucks honking on the right side, she had no choice but to steer for the shoulder, running over not one but two sign posts. The first sign, a tall one, she flattened without incident, but the second one, a yellow caution speed sign, grabbed the bottom of her car and wedged itself there so she could go no further.
The cause of the accident was a young couple with a 2-month old baby who had hit the ice and had probably thrown their hands in the air, then gone onto the shoulder, bounced off a cement wall, over a rise that must have had their car almost vertical, then back onto the fast lane of the freeway where they stopped, not knowing what to do.
Fortunately for them, another driver decided to pull up behind them and put his emergency flashers on.
When I got there in the (all-wheel drive) Subaru, only going 45mph and suddenly seeing her car around the bend, I put my brakes on and slid a little, but then steered onto the shoulder safely. When the cops got there with their flashing roof racks they blocked traffic in the fast lane, so it was finally a safe situation.
If that guy hadn't pulled up behind the first car, it would have eventually been creamed, I'm sure, with the baby in it, since they didn't think of taking the baby out of the car.
The tow truck company and the police said it would be hours before a tow truck could get Diane's car (due to several other accidents around town), so we left it there overnight.
This morning we were able to jack it up and pull the sign out, and Diane drove home without further incident, with no injury to the car except a mark in the bumper where she'd hit the signs.
So remember kids, don't trust other drivers to know what they're doing! (And only you can prevent forest fires.)
UPDATE FROM DIANE HERSELF:
I release all claim to the information contained in this report, Bill, so you have my permission to publish, although I can't speak for the author.
He is getting Chinese takeout for dinner later, in honor of those responsible for my accident :-)
Both the car and I are in perfectly good shape.
I don't have even the tiniest sore spot anyplace.
Hannah (the car) only has two large scratches on her very front, one for each sign, which I will dab up with white paint once the weather improves so that she will not be embarrassed by them, and also some blackberry-peach crumble over the front passenger side of the car.
I think the original accidentees were going too fast and hit their brakes on the same patch of ice that I did; but since I was only going 40-45 mph, even when I skidded I got off the road sooner (in terms of distance) and didn't travel nearly as far as they did.
I was able to regain control of the car way before I would have hit the wall the way that they did.
Looking at the trajectory in the snow that our respective cars left, that was really key.
So, says Snowy the Bear, always travel with your road conditions in mind.
It saved my car, and my butt, last night.
Hope everyone is having a great holiday!