For the first two weeks of October, I griped and complained about getting stopped by the Police in Dickinson and almost getting 9 points on my driver’s license at one time: 3 points for failure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, and 6 points for not being able to find my proof of liability insurance. I ended up with just 3 points on my driver’s license for the time being. When you get over 11 points, you automatically lose your driver’s license.
The job site where I have been working for the past two years is about a one hour drive from Dickinson, it’s not like I can walk or ride my bicycle there if I lose my driver’s license. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, a rural area with large farms, not a place where you can rent something close by if you can’t drive there. Besides that, the owner of the company that I work for stated last week that if any employee gets a suspended driver’s license, they can’t work there.
So I am trying to be very careful driving. On top of everything else, I hit a deer on the way home from work two months ago. This was the first time in my life that I ever actually hit a deer. One of my coworkers hit a deer two years ago on the way to this job site and it did $20,000 damage to his new truck. Another coworker hit a deer on the way home about eight months ago and it totaled his Dodge Caravan, then two weeks later while driving his mother’s car to work he hit another deer and it totaled his mother’s Chrysler 200.
I don’t want to hit another deer, and I don’t want to get stopped by Law Enforcement again, so I drive very slow to and from work. When vehicles start getting close behind me, I pull off the road at the nearest approach and let them pass me. About three times per week on the way home, I pull off the road to let one of my coworkers pass me.
This past week, there was a very severe early snow storm that lasted for several days. Several times, the interstate that passes through this area was closed due to the number of vehicles sliding off the road. On the way to work on the two-lane highway, I did see a couple of snow related accidents, one where a four-wheel-drive Dodge 1500 pickup truck slid into the back of a dump-truck snow plow.
Last week, getting ready to drive home from work in the dark after working a twelve hour shift, I stopped at the job site exit to let the coworker who usually passes me on the way home, I let him go ahead of me. He drives a front-wheel-drive Honda Civic, which handles very good on snow and ice, probably even better than a four-wheel-drive truck.
My coworker got out onto the two-lane highway where the speed limit is 65 mph, and he drove 45-50 mph, which was what I was planning to do. The highway was very icy, probably about the worst I had ever seen. I stayed about 300 feet behind my coworker. Every time he came to a very bad ice spot, I could see his brake lights come on, he was slowing down, but he shouldn’t have been using his brakes so much, I thought, just let off the gas pedal.
After about eight miles, I didn’t see my coworker’s tail lights in front of me. Driving another 100 feet, I then saw that my coworker’s Honda Civic was sideways across both lanes of the highway. At first I thought that he was trying to turn around, but then I realized that he had hit a bad ice spot and spun out. Now only about 200 feet from him, I gently put on my brakes, but all wheels locked up, and I began sliding towards him, not slowing down at all, going about 35 mph. Colliding with him was inevitable.
The vehicle that I was driving, is my most favorite vehicle of any one that I have ever owned. I try not to drive it too much in order to not put many miles on it, and keep it safe. I don’t think that I will ever be able to replace this vehicle. But here I was, sliding towards my coworker going about 35 mph. He was sitting there appearing to be in shock, and I am about to smash up my most prized possession.
The vehicle that I was driving is all-time-four-wheel drive, it’s always in four-wheel drive, so when I was about 100 feet from my coworker, sliding sideways just like he had slid sideways, not slowing down at all, I let off the brake and I gave it about 15% throttle. The wheels caught just barely enough to pull me towards the high side of the highway.
I slid past my co-worker still going about 35 mph, but now with the tail end of my vehicle headed for the snow embankment on the high side of the highway. When the rear end of my vehicle hit the snow embankment, it would be just like the rear tires hitting a curb, causing my vehicle to flip over. All I could do was wait for impact. When I hit the snow bank, I didn’t hit solid enough to flip over.
I drove my vehicle out of the snow bank, and I parked on the edge of the highway. I spoke to my coworker briefly, and he said that he wanted me to go ahead of him for the rest of the way home. I drove about 45-50 mph the rest of the way home with my hazard-flasher lights on. This was the worst and most icy road that I had ever seen in my seventeen years of driving in snow.
This time, I gradually put about two miles distance between me and the vehicles behind me. It was more than a one hour drive home this time, only going 45-50 mph, but not even the idiots could go any faster and catch up to me. My coworker called me just as I was entering Dickinson to see if I had made it, I was out of sight from him. I told him to stop at Hardees restaurant when he got into Dickinson.
When my coworker arrived at Hardees, I said to him that if I had hit him, that I would probably have been cited for the accident. I asked him if he knew that we would have had to report this accident, if you don’t report an accident in North Dakota, it’s six points on your driver’s license. Judging from my coworker’s response, he didn’t know that you had to report the accident, he would not have wanted to report the accident, at first.
I was kind of angry, not so much at my coworker, but at the whole situation. I was driving slow, I let my coworker go ahead of me, I was staying 300 feet behind him, plenty far enough I thought to be able to stop in time. The ice that he spun out on, in a front-wheel-drive car, was the ice that I had to try to stop on, and I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t even steer away from him, let alone stop.
I would have been cited for the accident, 3 more points on my driver’s license. My coworker who acted like he would not have wanted to report this accident, because he didn’t know that he had to, would probably have changed his mind once he talked to his insurance company. Another 6 points for me for not reporting the accident, plus the 3 points for being cited for the accident, plus the 3 points that I got at the beginning of the month, means a suspended driver’s license for me.
I am so uncomfortable, uneasy, and unsettled living in North Dakota. So many bad things are always happening, even though all I am trying to do is just go to work, go to the grocery store, and just pay my bills. Living here really is like being in prison, nothing good ever happens, only bad things happen here.
I talked to a Highway Patrol Officer for about five to ten minutes, describing what had happened, and asking him questions. He told me that the Highway Patrol does not always make a determination of who was at fault in an accident, nor do they always give someone a citation for an accident, as in a weather/road condition/stalled vehicle related accident.
The Highway Patrol Officer also informed me, that up until August of 2019 it was mandatory to report a vehicle accident where there was more than $1,000 damage. After August of 2019, the vehicle accident reporting law was updated, where it became mandatory to report a vehicle accident where there was more than $4,000 damage.
Lastly, the Highway Patrol Officer indicated that if all parties involved in a vehicle accident choose to exchange identification and insurance information, and forego reporting an accident where no one was injured and there was not that much damage, the Highway Patrol is not interested in trying to give anyone a citation for not reporting the accident.