It was a dark and stormy night.
I had just spent a very pleasant few days visiting with my aunt and cousins in central California. I was on my way back north and should have stayed in Portland at my sisters’ house, but I wanted to get home. I was cruising along the inside lane of I-5—at pace with the traffic in the other lanes—about a mile south of the Interstate Bridge over the Columbia River. In this area there is a large reader-board spanning the highway. I checked it for “cautions” (say, an accident ahead, perhaps). This was precisely the wrong moment not to notice that the cars in my lane ahead were at a virtual standstill. They were moving, but only just enough so that their brake lights were not on.
I briefly (very briefly) hoped I could avoid a collision by squeezing by on the left. Unfortunately, the wet pavement, in combination with how hard I had to brake, did not allow the time or control to get over far enough. I clipped the driver-side rear corner of a Subaru Outback. The Subaru was able to limp over to the left curb. As you can see from the photo, my poor little Tacoma was not going anywhere except to a wrecking yard.
Fortunately, there were no apparent injuries at that moment. Since then, my back has been complaining, but I am reasonably certain it is just a pulled muscle. The other driver did say she banged her head pretty hard against the headrest. The Portland police officers who arrived on the scene were awesome; they issued no citation, and they got us off the highway pretty quickly, considering.
All in all, it could have been a lot worse. I could easily have been rear-ended myself, and, with a full tank of gas back there, I probably wouldn’t be here. Instead, an angel pulled up behind me and turned on her flashers. She was a sweetheart and provided a couple of much needed hugs.
I had full coverage for the Tacoma, but, as a 2001 with 175,000 miles, it will be very difficult for me to replace with whatever I get for it.
The reader-board that precipitated all this was only informing me how many minutes I likely had before reaching the I-205 interchange—useless information for me, and sadly, wrong.