This is our car. This, of course, is our car after the wreck we got into. Our car is probably 4.5 meters long (or 14.76 feet). The point of impact is clearly right behind the driver's seat on the rear car door. We are both very grateful he didn't hit the driver's door. Jennifer was driving.
The morning started different than most mornings. Evan left his phone charger on the ship and his phone was dead, so he relied solely on his watch to wake up. We woke up at 0631. Since there is some walking distance from the parking lot to the ship, it would be easier if Jennifer drove Evan to the closest point to decrease the distance he had to walk. We left the house at 0635. We were leaving the cho trying to turn right. Keeping in mind that Japan drives on the opposite side of the road as America, in order to turn right, we have to cross two lanes of traffic going left.
There is a small (very small) space for the car to sit to turn. It is not a complete turning lane. There was zero traffic coming from the right (the two closest lanes) and there was traffic coming from the left. When Jennifer pulled into the turning area, a bus had stopped across the street causing two lanes of traffic to merge into one, leaving fewer chances to merge into traffic going right. All wasn't bad at this point. But then...
Traffic began to come from the right (in those first two lanes) we still weren't in danger because there was an opportunity to merge into traffic without causing a wreck ourselves. We could make it, however, the first vehicle in the traffic heading our way, in the inside lane was steady in its speed. Yet we saw the gap in the cars. We could make it. The van didn't slow down, but the gap in the cars was getting closer. Unfortunately, so was the van. For some reason, this van did not slow down or stop. We still do not know the reason for this.
As soon as the gap in the cars was available, Jennifer gunned it. Less than a second later, the van plowed into the rear seat, driver side door. It spun our car 180 degrees. What boggles us is that the car did not think enough to slow down, swerve to avoid hitting us, or stop. Why, oh why, did the driver not slow down? He was the first car in its lane, there were no obstructions to seeing us. It was dark, but there were street lights, and as he approached us, he should have been able to see us and slow down.
The speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour on that road. Presuming he was going the speed limit, he was going as fast as 31 miles per hour. If we consider that he was the first car, leading the pack, and in the faster lane, he was going AT LEAST 31 mph. This happened at 0640. We called the military security who managed to show up an hour later. The Japanese police talked to the other driver for all of 10 minutes. They talked to Jennifer for 2 hours trying to figure out what happened.
At about 0930, the tow truck arrived to take our car to base where it will wait until the verdict arrives from the insurance company on the fate of our car. Insurance here works differently than in America (or anywhere else for that matter). They can choose to use the police report or not. They can conduct their own investigation and go by that instead. When Evan went to the insurance company to tell what happened, they told him that it sounds like it was the other guy's fault because we were stopped in the road. Had we been moving into the line of traffic and then gotten hit, it would have been our fault because we moved into traffic. Insurance companies cover the cost of the car, but they don't cover any cost for personal injuries.
Our questions that still remain:
- Why didn't he (or the passenger in his vehicle) see us and slow down?
- What questions did the Japanese police ask the other guy?
- How fast was he going? Was he distracted?
- How was he able to see us from 100 yards away and not react yet every other car on the highway stopped within the few seconds this happening?
- How did the police look at our car and think the point of impact was on the driver's door, 1.4 meters from the front of the car? It's clearly the L-shaped dent in the back door. Anything infront of that was where our car hit the side of his fender as it spun into traffic.
- Why wasn't he questioned more than 10 minutes?