Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Traffic Accident Details
Here's the rest of the story.
Last night, Russell was driving on the main road (paved, one lane in each direction with fairly good shoulders). He was alone in our Toyota Tacoma pickup. As he was passing a large, well-lit gas station just outside of town, he saw another pickup truck driving slowly in the same direction as Russell, on the right shoulder of the road. People commonly enter the road without looking, and frequently pull onto the right shoulder when planning to make a left turn. (I know that sounds nuts, but I guess they figure they aren't blocking traffic while waiting for an opening in the oncoming traffic, if they are on the shoulder? I'm not sure. The rules of the road seem to be mostly made up as you go along, around here.) Anyway, it is Russell's regular practice to honk a couple of times before passing in a situation like this, and he did this, as usual.
Russell was coming up to the other vehicle at speed, when suddenly the other pickup made the dreaded left-turn-from-the-right-shoulder maneuver right in front of him! There was no place for Russell to go to avoid the accident. The right front of our pickup hit the left front of the other pickup. With the impact, our truck pushed the other truck so that the two became stuck together, side-by-side.
Fortunately, there were witnesses to the accident, who all agreed that the accident was totally the fault of the other driver. In Honduras, it is not uncommon for the gringo to be blamed for an accident without regard to the facts, because it is assumed that the gringo will be able to come up with the money to pay for repairs and doctor bills.
Getting your rights and an accurate police report here sometimes depends on who you know. Russell immediately called some of our high-influence friends, to stand with him while the police investigated the accident. It was determined that Russell was not to blame for the accident.
During the time that the damaged trucks were still mostly blocking the road, along came a motorcycle, who didn't happen to notice our dark green truck, and ran full speed into the driver's side door! The driver and passenger of the motorcycle were taken to the hospital, but we have heard they are okay. Our previously undamaged driver's side door now needs to be replaced, however. This, of course, is a separate accident, with all new issues!
The truck was able to be driven back to town. Sadly, we had just finished a batch of repairs on this truck, including a new paint job, in preparation for selling it. Now we are set back several months (and we don't know how many dollars) on this.
Tomorrow Russell (along with one of our high-influence friends) will have the opportunity to review the official police report. This is important because there is always the possibility that the accident report will have been changed (due to bribery). The transit police will make a ruling based on the report, and will determine who will pay for damages, and how much will be paid.
I'll let you know how things develop.