Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Is it just ME or is driving in Korea really dangerous?

You'd think that after 6 or so vehicular accidents in my 11 years in Korea that I might think about taking public transportation. But, I'm a little hard-headed that way. Today, it became number 7. Now, I don't claim to be the best driver (like so many of those taxis that you see out there) but I try to obey most of the laws most of the time. I figure that might be my problem. Here's the rundown up until today:

1. 1998 - riding in a tour bus near Mai-san (Horse-ears mountain in Chollanam-do) the driver temporarily forgets that he is driving a bus and takes a corner on a mountain road like he's in a Ferrari in the newly fallen rain and ends up in the culvert on the side of the road. No one hurt, but it took a while to get out of the bus since it was leaning against the side of the mountain.

2. 1999 - Driving a motorcycle about 2 minutes from my house in Busan. The driver in the lane next to me decides to take an illegal U-turn at the crosswalk from the second lane from the middle; I was nearest the double-yellow line. I was broadsided and knocked into very fortunately stopped oncoming traffic and unfortunately into a parked van, head first. Damage: motorcycle pretty much totaled, 5 days in the hospital but no broken bones. The other guy didn't have any insurance and paid the medical but couldn't pay for the motorcyle (750Kaw Vulcan)

3. 2000 - At the request of my soon to be wife, I gave up 2 wheels for a jeep-like Rocsta (Kia/Asia). Driving outside of EonYang, I was trying to make a Pseudo-legal U-turn at a 45 degree angled three-way intersection(legal place for U-turn but I was all the ay up to the stop line) the woman behind me decided I was making the obtusely-angled left turn, but too slowly. She tried to pass me from behind and crossed the double yellow and smacked into my right front wheel. Seemed like everyone was ok but grandma in the passenger seat seemed a little shaken up. Trip to the police station had the men in blue advising her to drop it since it was her fault.

4. 2002 - Rear-ended by a MaryKay Cosmetics sales rep when the traffic in front suddenly stopped, so did I. She must have been working on her makeup or something because she just didn't stop until she crushed the back end of my Longbody Galloper with her Sonata III. No one hurt and insurance paid for a new rearend and a rental car.

5. 2005 - Rear-ended at a stoplight near downtown Daegu. This one hit me pretty hard and crushed both the "battle bumper" and the regular bumper. I didn't feel it right away, but I went to the hospital for about a week on that one. Suffered something called an Internal Disk Disruption which basically translates to "well, we know you are having pain but there is nothing we can really do about it because the surgury is more dangerous and could potentially leave you worse off than you are. So...bear it." I'm still working on proper compensation to this day. Car was repaired at the expense of the other guy's insurance company.

6. 2006 - Rear-ended (YES AGAIN!!) at a crosswalk stoplight on the way back from a trip to the hospital for a doctor's consultation about the 2005 accident. Also, not totally resolved. But I can tell you that having another accident while you are still working on a resolution for another more serious accident is a real pain in the petut.

This bring me to today's fiasco:

7. 2007 - Sideswiped by a bus in front of my school. Imagine sitting at an intersection waiting to go straight into the front gate of your school. There are two rows of cars turning left on a green arrow while you wait for the green to go straight. On the right, cars are turning right. When the light changes, the cars on the left start to hurry up to make it into the intersection and you start to head forward on the green. Then a bus comes hurtling down the RIGHT TURN LANE and proceeds to turn LEFT across your path. The back end of the bus clips the front right side of your car. No injuries but MAN!! was I annoyed. However, the driver was appropriately apologetic which soothed my ire enough to keep from ringing his neck. He gave me all the info I needed and told me to call later about fixing the car. I took photos and got a recording of the guy telling me it was his fault. I guess we'll see what happens next.

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