Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I had a 2012 Nissan Versa to drive this week and was planning on taking some pictures, as usual, and giving you loyal readers my opinion of this inexpensive entry-level sedan that the Japanese automaker has packed with numerous standard features for its class.
The operative words here are “had a 2012 Nissan Versa” and “was planning.”
To explain, I was on my usual Tuesday routine of heading to the University of Miami football press conference where coach Al Golden would feed us the usual B.S., er, I mean give us insights into the upcoming opponent for the Hurricanes, in this case Florida State this Saturday in Tallahassee.
As I tooled along expressway a couple of minutes behind schedule, I debated whether I should take my usual back way or take the expressway all the way out to Dixie Highway. Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) could be quicker, unless I ran into heavy traffic, always a possibility, if not a likelihood at noon time.
My usual back way didn’t have such a risk with traffic. So I decided that’s what I would do.
Wrong choice.
I eased off the expressway and as I sailed down the ramp I saw to my good fortune that the light at the bottom had just turned green. Sometimes Providence smiles on people in a hurry.
In this case, though, Providence was playing a mean trick.
For though I saw one car to my left on the cross street at the bottom of the ramp had stopped, my view of the closer lane was blocked by the roadway itself.
Just as I reached the street, I saw a Chrysler Town & Country to my left, and it wasn’t stopping. Though my foot was already on the brake to slow it, stomping on it didn’t get the Versa stopped in tie and the minivan clipped its front end.
No, I wasn’t hurt, obviously, or I likely wouldn’t be writing this now, and neither was the other driver. His vehicle came to a stop on down the street and he got out and ran back to check on me.
I told him I was okay, and we both pulled our vehicles off the right-of-way. I don’t know how it is where you live, but that’s what you do down here when nobody at the scene is hurt.
I called the press fleet manager to inform him of the accident, and while on the phone the other driver came up to me with an unusual request. He wanted to get his girlfriend, who owned the minivan and lived just minutes away, to come over before the police arrived so she could say she was driving.
Because, he explained somewhat nervously, he didn’t have a driver’s license. And he was here illegally and had been for six years.
Imagine running across an illegal alien who doesn’t have a driver’s license in Miami. What are the odds?
But it wasn’t a triple play. Thanks to his girlfriend, he did have insurance. Not that that mattered to me. One of the great advantages of driving a press fleet car is that when something like this does happen, the company pretty much takes care of everything.
Not that I have a lot of experience in such matters.
The remarkable thing is that the police didn’t take too long to arrive to take down the report, and the tow truck he called arrived rather quickly as well. He was only a safety officer and doesn’t have arrest power, but he did talk with privately with the other driver and his girl, who had come over anyway. What was said I don’t know.
The officer just took my papers and I explained to him that it was a press fleet vehicle and owned by the manufacturer. He didn’t even ask me what had happened or how the accident had occurred, which, looking back on it, seems odd now.
I had expected a long wait for both really, but maybe there wasn’t going on around the county at the time. My wife had barely gotten there to pick me up before the tow truck arrived.
One of the guys in the tow truck took the info on where to drop the car, the other threw the front fascia, which had been ripped off, into the backseat, and they jacked up the car and were gone in minutes.
If you still would like a review, I must say I was impressed with the way the damage was confined to the front end, though that was more due to the way the accident occurred. The airbags didn’t even go off.
It wasn’t until later in the evening that I got to thinking that if I had been just a tenth of a second or so quicker into that intersection, the guy in the Town & Country would have T-boned me. I’m not sure how the Versa would have held up to that, and I’m glad I didn’t have the opportunity to find out.
As for this damage from this incident, my guess, considering the car’s low cost, would be that this particular Versa would have been totaled and headed for the crusher even if it wasn’t a pre-production prototype, which this one was.
And as for the press conference, I missed it in person but watched a replay later on the athletic department’s website. Golden said the Hurricanes were excited with the opportunity to play Florida State but that it would be a great test.
I didn’t need any more tests this day.

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