Oct 21, 2011  •  In Personal

Don’t Be an A$$hole Driver

A few months after I first received my driver’s license, I tried to park my car in a very tight spot and ended up scratching the adjacent car.

The scratch was barely noticeable: two faint lines just 2″ long on the corner of the bumper. I am pretty sure that if I had tried to buff it out, or even rubbed some dirt on it, the owners of the car would not have noticed the scratches for up to months after the event.

But I was riddled with guilt. So I left a note.

And my family ended up paying $500 for their new bumper.

Because leaving a note is what I have done, and because — despite my often-pessimistic outlook on life — I still like to believe that we should all treat others as we would like to be treated, I have always assumed that this is the norm.

But the past 15 years of my being a licensed driver have led me to believe otherwise.

This Redditor took advantage of free business cards and had these
“You Park Like an Asshole” cards printed.

Since that fateful day circa 1996-1997, I — or more specifically, my cars — have been the victims of no less than THREE hit-and-runs. One of which left very significant damage costing approximately $6,000 in repairs. (Fortunately, my insurance picked up the majority of the tab. But they also increased my premium as a result.)

Just a couple of weeks ago, my SIL came for a visit and in the hour or so that she had left her car parked just outside our condo, someone hit her car and drove off, leaving serious damages to the left side of the vehicle.

In all four cases, no trace of a note could be found anywhere. And in my SIL’s case, it was obvious that the other driver had taken some time to check out the damages, because the side mirror was pushed in without any hint of damages on or near it.

I also recall one night back in college, when my drinking buddies for the night began to brag about their own hit-and-runs.

“I figured that if the other driver can afford a Mercedes, they could afford to pay for the repairs.”

“I called my dad and asked him what to do, and he told me that if no one saw me doing it, then I should just leave…so I did.”

“The other driver took up TWO SPACES in a mall parking lot during holiday shopping season. So I keyed the car.”

Okay, so that last one was not technically a hit-and-run. But still.

None of them had left notes. And the worst part? None of them seemed to feel any guilt. If anything, they seemed PROUD and RELIEVED that they were able to get away with these offenses.

Oh, and we can’t forget about the douchebags who pretend to leave notes containing their contact information, but are only scribbling nonsense so that they look good in front of others who have witnessed the event.

What the heck happened to common courtesy?

All I know is that when my children get old enough to drive, I will be telling them this story and instructing them to do the right thing. That I would be proud of them if they were to to wait for the other driver to arrive, or at least leave a note with their contact information.

Have you ever been the victim of a hit-and-run?

Have you ever hit or scratched a car and just run off? If so, do/did you feel any guilt about it? (Don’t be afraid to comment — I promise I won’t judge.)

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26 Responses to “Don’t Be an A$$hole Driver”

  1. Stephanie says:

    Oh, you just got me mad all over again. I’ve been hit and run several times. One note was left.

    But my husband? He had a two week old car (hadn’t even made the first payment!) that got hit in the parking lot of a thrift store. I’ve never convinced him to go thrifting with me again..

  2. Regina says:

    Gah. I used to live at the far end of an apartment complex and the only people who ever parked near my apartment were my neighbors. I took the bus to work, but I came home one day and there was a HUGE dent in the passenger side door. No note. I knocked on every neighbor’s door (only 3 neighbors, all who I knew!) and everyone denied it, even the woman with the blue paint from my car on her bumper. I still drive that car and it still has that dent, 8 years later. *seethes*

  3. Lauren says:

    I’ve never had a hit and run, but I’ve some friends that had it happen and they were not happy about it.

  4. penga says:

    Someone left a big door dent in the side of my prius not too long ago, no note. It could also be because the other driver doesn’t have insurance, or is afraid of a big angry scary person coming back to the car before they are done writing the note?

    Luckily I have not hit anyones vehicle yet..just my own against curbs and posts >_>”

  5. Ugh, someone keyed my car when it was parked in front of my old apartment building. So annoyed. And we don’t have the money to fix it right now, so every time I get in my car (it’s all down the driver’s side) I see it and it makes me mad again. People suck sometimes.

  6. Di says:

    Never been hit and run, never been a hit and runner. *knocking on wood* However, I was infuriated when a truck ran a red light and t-boned my husband’s car in the early morning hours when he was working graveyards. Because there were no witnesses and no traffic cams it was a his word against husband’s word situation and while this douche admitted to my husband he ran the light before the cops got there, he told his insurance company he was not at fault. Without collision insurance on his car, we couldn’t afford to make the repairs and had to sell it.

    While yes, this man’s insurance premiums would have gone up slightly, it still enrages me when I think about it (this was two years ago). I don’t understand people who don’t have enough personal integrity to take responsibility for something that was their fault.

  7. Nodakademic says:

    I’m usually very very careful about other people’s cars, because I really like my own and want to respect others too. Yet, there has been a time or two though where I have accidentally scuffed someone’s car with my door. In both cases, I have not left a note. Here’s the way I judge it: if it were my car with the scuff–and it often is-right now I have a big black scuff that looks like teeth marks (wtf?) on my bumper because I think a truck backed in to me lightly–ANYWAY, if it was my car with the scuff, could I fix this at home with a little rubbing compound, scratchX and/or touchup paint?

    If yes, I’m not leaving a note. To me, minor scuffs and super-small dings/scratches are a risk of driving your vehicle around. Minor wear. I make the (selfish) judgement that it is less of a hassle for them to spend 20 minutes to buff it than it is for me to fork over $500+ and have my insurance raised.

    If the answer is “no,” I would leave a note. If there was a big scrape, a dent, or something else requiring professional attention (like if I knocked their mirror off or broke a light), I would absolutely leave a note. There are exceptions to this too though. Mainly, if the vehicle is exceptionally crappy and it’s obvious that the people don’t care (like if a tail light has been duct-taped on, or it’s covered in dents and scrapes and rust already), I’m not going to leave a note. They probably won’t notice what I did anyway–their car is falling apart. With my luck, they’d probably tell the insurance/body shop person that I caused more of the damage than I did, hoping to get more of their vehicle repaired on my buck.

  8. Nodakademic says:

    Oh and, my husband and I were involved in a hit and run during snowy weather last year. It was in an intersection, we had some serious vehicle damage, and when my husband tried to cross the intersection (waiting for the light to change), the other driver drove off. They were at fault, too–made a left turn in front of my husband (on ice) when he had the right of way. Grr. We *WATCHED* the guy drive off, could not see the license plates and the cops took over an hour to get to our location to take our report. Of course they didn’t find him.

  9. Stephanie Appel says:

    I had to comment because my husbands one-month old car was recently SMASHED in front of our building… seriously, we had only made ONE payment, he was absolutely crushed. But miraculously the woman left a note and her insurance covered everything (over $6k and 2+ weeks of a rental car!) and he picked up his car yesterday. Fingers crossed that all is well… but anyway, yes – I would leave a note.

    My car was hit by a city vehicle (we could tell by the bright orange paint that matched the trucks driving by daily) and they didn’t leave a note… my insurance covered it but I still had that $500 deductible to pay. Grr…

    So yes, I would leave a note. Fingers crossed now that I never have to though… and I hope you are finished with car disasters too! 🙁

  10. serena says:

    Someone once left a huge dent in my RENTAL, which totally sucked! I agree with you – just own up!

  11. joyjoy says:

    I’ve been hit and run a few times. Normally just dings and dents on my car (nothing too huge) that I know weren’t caused by me. There was one time that I got rear ended on the way to work. I pulled over and the guy just sped away. Jerk.

    What’s even more frustrating is that I’ve also had the opposite happen to me, where I was blamed for something I didn’t do. I very lightly rear ended another car while in traffic. The driver was a kid who looked scared out of his wits, so I told him that we should exchange info even though there was no damage to either of our cars. I tried to be nice, explaining what should happen in an accident (even though it was my first one) to help the kid calm down and maybe learn something. We checked out our cars together and greed that there was no damage. I drive a Civic and the kid drove an 80’s BMW, so if there was no damage to my car, you know the hit wasn’t more than a nudge. SIX months later, I get a call from his insurance company that I had totaled the back end of his car. Umm, seriously? I argued that I drive a Civic, so there was no way that I could total the back of a car that’s built like a tank and get away scott free. The agent argued that she had a photo of the damage. I argued that at the time of the accident–SIX months ago–we had agreed that there was no damage. We argued back and forth for a long time until the insurance agent hung up on me. Almost a year after the accident, I get a letter from my insurance agency stating that I had accepted full responsibility for totaling this kid’s car. WTH?? I’m thinking the kid must have backed into something and given his parents my insurance information for the damage. It still makes me angry to think about it.

  12. Cyndi says:

    When i first got my license i backed into a car..I was backing out of a friend’s driveway on a narrow street and the car i hit was parked on the street..It left a larger dent in the door..No one was around b/c it was late at night. BUT being the person i am i got out of my car and knocked on the door of the person i hit.

    The car belonged to an extremely CRANKY old couple who SCREAMED at me..My friend’s mom heard the commotion and came to my rescue. She quickly reminded them that i could have easily left and no one would have known but it didn’t make them any nicer to me..

    My parents paid for the damage and they NEVER got that car fixed! It was a neighbor of my BF in HS so i went to her house a LOT (even in college) I got so burned up every time i saw that dent. Not only were they mean to me for being honest but they took my parent’s money and didn’t use it for repairing the car..

  13. Ashley says:

    I’ve never hit and run someone (well, maybe I’ve “love tapped” someone while parallel parking, but caused zero damage), but I HAVE been hit. My car, while not the nicest in the world (an ’04 Sunfire), is my baby – we’ve been through A LOT together, and I bought it myself right after I graduated high school. When I was away at college once I had it at home (I couldn’t afford parking on my school’s campus), and my brother ran into it – TWICE – in our driveway the DAY he got his driver’s license. In order to avoid raising insurance (which my parents were paying), they decided not to repair/report it. So I have two lovely dents on my passenger side. Then, just recently, a car obviously hit my car (same passenger side), causing yet ANOTHER large dent, a door panel fell off, and my mirror fell off. They just drove off and I feel like it’s because it looks like I don’t care about my car because of the other dents. It’s so frustrating and sad and really makes me aware of how rude people are. Ugh.

    I’m just glad the dents are on the passenger side – that way I don’t have to see them every day.

  14. Sarah says:

    When I was in high school, I was parking at the mall during the holiday season and bumped the car next to me. It wasn’t too bad, but there was definitely a little dent. I freaked out since I’d only been driving for a few months, and I was terrified my parents would be mad at me. I went inside without leaving a note.

    It gets worse. When I came back out hours later, the car was still there (must have been another mall employee), and a well-intentioned stranger who apparently saw me bump the car had put a note under the windshield wiper with my license plate number on it. That freaked me out even more. I took the note, threw it away, and left.

    I KNOW. SO AWFUL. That was more than 15 years ago and to this day I still feel HORRIBLY guilty about it. Thankfully I’ve never been in that situation since, but if I were, I would definitely leave a note.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    My biggest pet peeve is dishonest drivers. Between that and people without insurance, it almost seems useless for us to have insurance.

    I almost leave a note. Always!!! Often times I never get called but I always leave them the correct contact information.

    My car has been hit multiple times, ones with extreme damage that needs to still be fixed, without any note left. Once time, we caught the hit and run driver and they ended up paying to fix the damage but the only reason we caught them is because they left a piece of their vehicle behind and they lived near us. So we sent the cops.

    My husband has also had hit and runs happen to him, as well as someone who gave fake information and wouldn’t pay up even after my husband found him. At that point there was nothing my husband could do either.

    Pretty much I just pray karma kicks them in the butt and they get paid back for being so dishonest. And, like you, I will teach my kids that leaving a note is the only right thing to do.

  16. G Lee says:

    ugh. we had a hit-and-runner at the complex we’re at now. she left without a note or anything. luckily, i had a witness that had a description of the car and we’re in a gated community so it was easy to find out that she was the owner of the apartment next door (she rents it out, but i guess she was visiting that day – hasn’t visited since!) she got out of the car to check her car, but supposedly didn’t notice a humongous dent on my car. luckily, within a month, the police were able to track her down and i was able to get my deductible reimbursed. i wanted her down for hit and run but she claimed that she didn’t see any damage so she just left.

  17. eemusings says:

    My fiance has been in a few accidents – all while moving, unfortunately, so no chance of driving off.

    I have scratched up another car, twice. Once when I first learned to drive and was backing out of a parking space and hit the car next door – unfortunately the person was still in the car, and jumped out screaming “You were OBVIOUSLY going to hit me! Why did you do that?” which resulted in me having a mini breakdown, I was so stressed out. Luckily it was really minor and we let it go – it was just a matter of scraping some of our paint off their car.

    The second time was the same situation in our apartment parking lot – I actually scraped it twice but nobody was in the car, and no, I didn’t leave a note. It was the same kind of thing as above, with a bit of our paint on their car – I personally wouldn’t have cared if it was the other way around. Karma got me though as later on somebody keyed a huge scratch into our car in the parking lot.

    Once somebody broke our side light in that parking lot and they DID leave a note, which was much appreciated.

  18. Carol says:

    Ugh seriously! I’ve been the victim TWO TIMES (so all of the damages on my car were the works of stupid little Asian girls that thought they could get away from it.) My brand new car had a HUGE dent in it but with a note from TWO witnesses that said that they saw EVERYTHING and thought it was so messed up that the girl in her huge SVU just drove off. I sent both of my witnesses 2 jamba juice gift cards in the mail because I was so grateful! I will always be a note writing witness if I ever see it!! (I’ve done it once for someone already.)

    Seriously…. you need to raise your kids right!!

  19. My brother recently had to deal with a hit and run; SO LAME. I had one really awesome experience about a year ago. I walk out of the grocery store and there are five teenage boys standing next to my car.

    “Is this your car?”
    “Um we were getting in our truck, and our door accidentally hit your door. I was going to write you a note – here it is – but I thought it would be better to wait for you. There’s a mark, right here, see? Magic Eraser should get it out though – my dad does car stuff on the side. If you need us to take care of it, let me know.”

    I go to look at it, and the mark is miniscule. I feel so bad for this kid who had to confront me in front of his friends.

    “It’s not a big deal, don’t worry about it. Thanks for letting me know.”
    “Well, here, take my information just in case.”

    SOOOO nice. Ridiculous. Someone taught those kids really well.

  20. Miranda says:

    I have a couple of bumps in my car that are my fault due to run in with a planter someone left behind my car. I once caught this guy who scratched my car and when I confronted him, his view was essentially that since my bumpers were dented in, he figured I wouldn’t mind. People suck.

  21. Lina says:

    I’ve read your post earlier this week, and tonight, i thought about it when I read and watched the video of the 2 years-old chinese girl who got hit and run by 2 cars, and ignored by 18 passengers. She didn’t recover. As a mother of a toddler myself, i felt so sad and angry. those people were heartless.
    Hit & run over a baby…

  22. Anonymous says:

    I did back into a car once, but I got out and looked and it seemed, really, that no damage had been done to the other car and all the damage was done to mine. So I didn’t leave a note. Not my best moment, that’s for sure. Usually I am very conscientious about things but I think when things like that happen sometimes you are so freaked out and maybe people’s impulses are to run. If anyone is judging me, don’t worry–I totally got paid back for my bad behavior–I was a ‘victim’ of not one, but two, hit-and-runs (and bad, too–major damage done both times), no notes left either time. Karma is a bi*ch, so they say! 😛

  23. Catherine says:

    I’ve been the victim of a hit and run but never did it myself. A friend of ours saw his car get hit while he was on the phone with us. They drove off despite him waving at them.

  24. Di says:

    So I’ll totally be the judgy mcjudgerton, but I am surprised by how many people wouldn’t leave a note if a car already had dents or scratches. My old car had a scrape on the side that I couldn’t afford to fix, but I would have been mad as hell if someone had damaged the car MORE and then been dishonest enough to not leave a note.

  25. De says:

    My car was very recently hit while I was parked on the street, with enough force that my car was knocked all the way to the curb and actually chipped pieces of it off. Not only did it take $600 to fix the huge dent, but now my engine light is always on because the hit messed up the air intake doohicky (not worth fixing on a 10 year old car).

    The driver did leave a note…with a fake number.


  26. Kylie says:

    After watching a car drive into a parking spot, bump the car next to them, drive back out, scratching further, attempt it again and do further damage and then give up and drive away without a second glance, I took their number plate, wrote it (with an eye-liner pencil on the back of a shopping docket) with my contact details, and left it on the rather bashed up car they left behind…

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