I Got Into a Trivial Accident This Year on Christmas Eve - Dec 29th 2008

Today I called my car insurance company, and got some car trouble tips.

On Christmas eve, I was driving my car to go to see the illumination of the Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos(333 Blossom Hill Dr., Los Gatos, CA). The park was decorated by many electric lights and opened as "FANTASY OF LIGHTS." It cost $15 to enter the park by car, we could see beautiful Disney-like illuminations while driving. It's another world only for 15 minutes.

By the way, we had to wait in traffic to enter the park. All of the cars had to be patient and had to repeatedly stop and go slowly. When I was stopping, the car behind me hit my car. I heard a big sound in my car. When I pulled over and got out of my car, the driver of the car behind said "I'm so sorry." I was a little surprised because I had heard that people in the US never say such apologetic words in accidents. But she said it. I was upset.

I said to her that "It was the first time for me to have an accident in the US. And I don't know what I should do. Is it usual to call the police?" She answered to me that "We don't usually call them for a small accident like this." Indeed, my car seemed to be undamaged. At last she wrote down her contact information for me. She seemed kind... However, I asked for her insurance information because I did not understand how much damage there was. She seemed to be offended because she seemed to be unwilling to give her details.

Fortunately, when I checked my car the next morning, the damage seemed little. When I talked to my insurance company (in Japanese), the agent gave me some pointers for traffic accidents in the US.
  1. Drivers are responsible to report any accidents to their insurance company. However if the accident is small, people sometimes skip it.
  2. At the time of an accident, drivers can call the police. But if the accident is so small, a dispatcher may refuse to send the policeman because they might have other crimes to attend to that are more important than a minor accident. Insurance companies can handle such minor accidents without a police report. But people sometimes tend to change their testimony. So my agent recommended that I try to call a policeman even if the accident is small.
  3. People in the US don't repair their car if the damage isn't big. In Japan, we call the police and our insurance agent to repair our car even if the damage is small. If the damage is small, the assailant can pay without using insurance not to affect the next insurance contract. It depends on him/her. Finally, we can solve and clear the accident only if the accident is small and trivial. But in the US, people is very willing to admit fault of their cars and forgive, right? It is thought that it depends on the culture about how much people take care of their cars, and I think it is interesting.
Anyway, Santa didn't bring me any gifts. But I learned many things about traffic accidents that night. Now I have a flow-chart that I made for traffic accidents which describes what I should do and what information I need from both parties. I will not be upset by it any more.

P.S. I had to turn off automatic headlights by covering them with paper bags of Trader Joe's. How pretty my corolla was!

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