It Came Out of the Blue

 In Vehicle Safety

I answered my phone to hear my brother’s voice saying, “Is this a good time to talk?”

I caught my breath. The tone of his voice, the tempo of his words, the unexpected midday call. These all added to my dread.

When he said, “Colleen and I were in a car accident,” I quickly said to myself, “No … not in the Audi A4 …” When that man crossed the yellow line and hit my brother and his wife head on, they were in their Jeep Grand Cherokee. I thanked the stars above.

Then my brother gave some details:

“Just driving home from a nice dinner with friends.”

“We weren’t going more than 20, 25 miles per hour.”

“He must have been going at least 50 on this road – just a regular road – traffic signals every 400 yards. Not a big road.”

“He says that he swerved to avoid a guy in the street. I don’t believe him. No skid marks, why didn’t he go to the right instead of head-on into us?”

“He must have been texting or talking on the phone.”

“He was in a Dodge Charger.”

I listened, too tense to think. Only words between us. No emotions. Shock. As my big brother, he again sounded confident and assured me that they would be fine. They would recover.

But my mind was racing. Here I am an expert in fatal car accident statistics, and someone in my family came close to being in my statistics. My worst nightmare. They were doing everything right – but it was the other driver. They were victims of distracted driving.

My brother's cars

The other driver's car


My brother has a pretty keen bull___ meter, so when he suspected that the other driver was texting or talking on the phone, I believe he could be right. Distracted driving has become an important, recognized factor in car crashes. The recent article in the New York Times Wheels section by Eric Taub highlights the potential danger of taking our eyes off the road for even a few seconds. This gripping (or compelling) discussion includes a wide cross-section of experts in industry and regulatory bodies who share a common concern: how to prevent or reduce distractions to drivers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and The Auto Alliance say that drivers should never take their eyes off the road for more than two seconds at a time.

In the meantime, the best guard against distracted drivers is to select a car that offers your family the most protection. Here’s where the Auto Grades can help. The team behind the Auto Grades understands that distractions will occur. While we recognize that electronic distractions are frequently identified and sometimes can be eliminated, there are other actions that could be called distractions. As discussed in the Times article, even turning to look at the right front passenger could be called distracted driving. These are everyday actions that can, unfortunately, contribute to a crash. That’s life, it’s not perfect. But we offer information that could help protect your loved ones in a crash, no matter the cause.

I try not to assign some cosmic meaning to the timing of my brother and sister-in-law’s crash, within days of the launch of our website and the Auto Grades. My brother has assured me that they will use the Auto Grades to choose their next car. But, in quiet times, when I am trying not to obsess about the phone call and about what could have happened, I keep hearing the chilling but familiar words that he used to describe the crash …

“It came out of the blue.”

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.