As I was approaching a red light in the left-turn lane, a driver going the opposite direction did not stop, T-boning the car in front of me, which had started turning left when the light changed. The red-light-runner struck at about 30MPH, bounced off of the car turning left, and came straight at me. Before I could get into reverse, the red-light-runner cranked the steering wheel over and missed my car by perhaps three inches, passing on my right and coming to a stop in the middle of the busy street.

I was able to to execute both "scene safety" and "summon help" steps simultaneously, by pushing the red button that many newer cars feature while driving my car carefully onto a side street, out of the way of traffic and later out of the way of the emergency responders.

By then both drivers were out of their vehicles and ambulatory. The driver turning left was essentially uninjured, the red-light-runner had what looked like it could be a broken arm but that was it. Neither vehicle contained passengers. The red-light-runner wasn't wearing a coat appropriate for the cold and sat down in the undamaged car of another witness who stopped.

I performed quick, hands-off evaluations of both drivers and double-checked for passengers before going back to wait in the warmth of my own car.

The police were visibly angry with the driver turning left, who apparently is a professional driver (in uniform for a local business), with a revoked license, who for reasons unfathomable lied to the cops about his direction of travel and tried to talk over me when I was giving my statement. I expect he was arrested shortly after the cops sent me on my way. The red-light-runner got much less ire from the police while I was there, and was taken by ambulance quickly.

Several things to ponder:
  • Situational awareness: Whether the light was red or not, the driver going the opposite direction from me could have avoided the collision if they'd been paying attention. The left-turning driver similarly had an opportunity to hold off on the left turn while waiting to see if the other driver would stop.
  • Situational awareness again: I stopped a few feet short of where I normally would have, as I saw what was happening, and this saved me some property damage (and a whole hell of a lot of aggravation, as I was leaving later that day for a road trip).
  • Scene safety comes first!
  • Whenever feasible, get out of the way of anticipated first responder vehicles.
  • The "red button" subscription was helpful, allowing me to make the call much faster and also to not be bounced between dispatch centers as I would certainly have been if I'd called 911 from my cellphone. It also had the advantage of sending my precise location immediately, which doesn't work quickly or well with most Public Safety Answering Points where I live.
  • With an excellent fire department, a single-digit-minute response time, and no visible life-threatening injuries, I was glad to be fully equipped with medical gear appropriate to my level of training, and even more glad to not need to use it.
  • I'd have gladly given the driver who wasn't dressed for the cold one of my Heatsheets blankets if there hadn't been a warm car for them to wait in.
  • The last time my car was struck in a collision, witnesses stopped and then got impatient and left before giving me their contact information or speaking to the police. This contributed to about nine months of shenanigans with the other driver's insurance that I would have been happier to not go through. If I see something like this I always stop, and I always wait when the cops are called.
  • Always wear your seatbelts! Airbags deployed in both cars involved, but they work a whole lot better when you're wearing a seatbelt.