my coworker caused a car accident and I don’t want to ride with her, taking notes at a job interview, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My coworker caused a car accident and I don’t feel safe riding with her

My job involves visiting clients and vendors at their offices, going to other offices for meetings, and visiting job sites. All of these visits are done via company car, anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours away from my workplace once or twice a week. My coworker was coming back from a job site when she caused a collision by driving into the back of an 18-wheel truck. She says she forgot that company cars don’t have a sensor which slows or stops the car automatically if there is an object or traffic like her personal vehicle does. She had the cruise control engaged because it was on the highway and traffic was stopping or slowing down in front of her and she didn’t slow down or brake and crashed into the back of a truck.

My coworker walked away without a scratch, but she had one of our students along and she ended up with a broken radius bone. The car had to be written off and my coworker was found at fault by both insurance companies and the police. She was arrested and charged by the police. But she has not been disciplined or spoken to about it here at work and the company is still allowing her to drive places in a company car. The student never came back because she was so mad at my coworker and some people have expressed concern about getting into a car with her after what happened. Management says it is fine and won’t authorize anyone else to drive in her place. There are only a couple of other people in my division who the company has authorized to drive their cars, and if those other people are out or not here my coworker is the only choice. How do I express my concerns about my safety to management? My coworker continues to minimize what happened and says it was not her fault because she forgot the car doesn’t stop automatically. She also calls her arrest a witchhunt and says the student exaggerated her broken arm to make my coworker look bad to the police. I don’t want to risk my safety by getting into a car with her.

How do you exaggerate a broken arm, I wonder? There are X-rays.

Anyway, you can and should refuse. I’d say this: “Given the accident and Jane’s cavalier response to what happened, I’m not comfortable riding in a car where she’s driving. I don’t think it’s safe. I’d be happy to ride with someone else, or be the driver myself, depending on what you prefer, but I’d need to see much safer driving from Jane over a sustained period before I’d judge it safe to ride with her.” If you get pushback, say this: “It’s really not possible for me to ride with Jane, for safety reasons. Given that, how should we proceed?”

Ideally you want other coworkers saying this too, possibly as a group. It’s going to be a lot harder to blow all of you off than if it’s just one of you.

2. Is it okay to take notes at a job interview?

Is it okay to take notes in an interview? I’ve got a not-so-great memory and I manage it with notes and other tools so my work isn’t affected. It’s mostly when talking in person that I have issues. I usually pull out my notebook and write notes of any work conversation because I have trouble remembering specifics after or sometimes that I had it.

Is it okay to do this in an interview? I haven’t interviewed in years and (haha) I can’t remember if I did that before. I’ll have a folder with extra resumes and references with me so I could keep a sheet for notes there. I’m also talking specifically about job details, hours, etc.

Yes, you can take notes in an interview! The key is not to let it it interfere with the flow of the conversation or with the rapport you’re building with your interviewer. You don’t want to be so focused on your notes that you’re not connecting interpersonally; be sure you’re looking at your interviewer significantly more than you’re looking down at your paper.

3. Being referred to as “support”

I work for a company where the obvious focus would be site operations and management, but we have in-house departments for IT, Marketing, Software Support and Training, etc. These departments work with all levels of operations staff and all of the site teams (many, many people), but don’t directly oversee staffs of their own.

Departmental employees are less respected than operations employees despite expertise or title. Department heads are D-suite employees with years of experience dealing with high level work, but are often referred to as “support.” While this term might not seem like a big deal internally, it’s also used with clients and during executive management discussions.

I’m not knocking traditional support staff. Ours love their work and we have a great team of them, but the work is entirely different in both scale and complexity.

I know that the greater issue is getting people to recognize how difficult and valuable the departmental work is to the organization, but is it off-base to ask not to be referred to as support? Like departments are just helping operations do the real work?

This is actually isn’t that uncommon; it’s not just a weirdness of your company. Technically speaking, departments like IT and marketing are supporting the main operations of the company, and sometimes (not always) it’s useful to be able to distinguish that. It doesn’t mean “support” in the sense of “I am your assistant,” but in the broader sense that those departments exist so that the operational staff can do the meat of whatever the company does.

If it’s literally just the wording that bothers you, I’d let it go; you’re reading more into it than you should. But if it’s bothering you because it reflects a broader issue in your company — where some work isn’t respected as much as others — that’s a legitimate issue. In that case, though, the issue still wouldn’t be the term “support”; it would be the bigger problems you’re seeing.

4. No going-away party because I’m non-exempt

My boss won’t throw me a going away get together during work hours because I am non-exempt. I asked why and she said it is because its not “work work.” Now the get-together is planned for after work, but people are already saying they can’t come because it’s … after work. In the past year, we have had going-away lunches (that last much longer than normal lunch breaks) for employees leaving, and even had parties for graduating students that last in excess of two hours long. This is leaving a sour taste in my mouth as I depart for my next gig. Am I being too sensitive here?

No, that’s pretty crappy.

5. I have to pick up a coworker, off the clock

At my job, we have an employee with no wheels. When this employee works a shift, we are asked to pick her up (depending on who is either working that day shift or with her on the night shift.) Recently, they told us that we had to clock out. Shouldn’t we get paid to pick up another coworker?

Yes, if they’re instructing you to do it. If you were going it on your own as a favor to your coworker, then no. But if your employer is assigning you to do it, they need to pay you for that time (assuming you’re non-exempt, which it sounds like you are). You can test this by seeing what happens if you politely decline to pick her up next time. If they say you have to do it, then you can say, “I thought she was asking it as a favor. If it’s a work assignment, I can of course do it, but we’d need to pay people for that time.”

{ 605 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Ramona Flowers

    #1 Wow. Making a mistake is one thing, though that’s a pretty big mistake, but saying a broken arm was exaggerated?!

    It sounds like management aren’t grasping that this person is a liability and/or is taking the path of least resistance. If nobody will get in a car with her, it’ll be harder for them to do that.

    Reply
    1. Blurgle

      I don’t know if this driver is being sexist, but calling a medical condition “exaggerated” is a common sexist method of minimizing women’s inconvenient injuries and illnesses. If you can’t say it’s fake, made up for attention, or all in her dim little head, say she’s exaggerating.

      And women do this to other women as much as if not more than men do it.

      Reply
        1. Nona

          (Obligatory “long-time reader, first-time commenter” disclaimer.) I agree that this would’ve been derailing, but I don’t understand why comments like this one are shut down while strings of comments that are solely about, for example, whether posters have cruise control or back-up cameras or drive standard or automatic are allowed. Those are the strings of comments that I find frustrating to wade through as a comment-reader.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            In this case, because I happened to see this one right away, addressed it, went to sleep, and then when I woke up discovered a zillion about the stuff you mention and felt the horse was already out of the barn, particularly on a day when I’m juggling a bunch of other work. It’s the result of me being one person and not on the site 24/7, more than it is anything intentional.

            Reply
            1. Steve

              Regular readers probably already know this, but do you have a day job? I can’t keep up with this site as an irregular user with a day job, I can’t imagine actually writing all these posts and moderating the thousands of comments.

              Reply
                1. Brisvegan

                  Can I just say: You do an wonderful job with this site and the moderation. The fact that you also do another day job on top of it is amazing. Thank you!

                2. Specialk9

                  I can’t reply to Brisvegan, so I’ll reply up-thread. They’re absolutely right, you do an amazing job with this site!

    2. Artemesia

      Wow. Someone actually said ‘I didn’t pay attention and brake because I expected the car to do it automatically.’ Yikes. I hope no one rides wit her. This is a lawsuit against the company waiting to happen.

      Reply
      1. Anon Accountant

        My jaw dropped at this and I’m shocked the company is allowing her to continue driving a company car.

        Reply
        1. Kenji

          This was my thought too! One of my coworkers can’t drive because someone hit HER – because there’s an accident on her record, our insurance won’t cover her. I’m flabbergasted OP’s coworker is allowed behind the wheel after a totalled car and an ARREST!

          Reply
          1. tigerStripes

            That’s what gets to me too. Is this coworker a close friend or family member of a VP or something? Does the coworker have blackmail information on someone highly placed?

            It makes no sense to let someone drive a company car when she totaled the company car with her own carelessness and refuses to think that she was at fault.

            Reply
        2. Snark

          Even if just from a liability standpoint. I’m sure the student could come after them with the kind of lawyer who has big billboards all over town.

          Reply
          1. Getting There

            Yes, I’m sure Saul Goodman would be happy to take this case! :P

            Seriously, though… that whole scenario is terrifying. One of my phobias is semi trucks, and it’s the main reason I don’t like to drive on the highway. (Many years ago, while not doing anything wrong myself, I inadvertently got stuck in a “rolling coffin” in between two huge trucks that were going at about 80 mph through a construction zone, with cement barriers on either side. It was 20 minutes that felt like 20 years, and I still have some PTSD from it.) If I were told I had to ride in a car driven by this coworker, I’d have to quit my job or be fired. Or, dose myself with do much ativan I’d be useless.

            I’m amazed that young student wasn’t hurt even worse, and I hope she does follow up with a suit against this wreckless person. As a parent of a kid probably around her age, I’d be furious and leading the charge. They need to take away her permission to operate company vehicles. When I had use of a company vehicle, I exercised even more than my usual excessive caution!

            Reply
        3. CoveredInBees

          I wonder if their insurance knows about this…(That the employee continues to drive for them, they obviously know about the accident.)

          Also, it seems like the employee is playing rather fast and loose with the term “witch hunt” and might want to learn the phrase “owning up to your own mistakes.” Assuming LW’s description of the employee is accurate, I would be more concerned with her refusal admit responsibility and even paint herself as a “victim” than the actual crash. Even conscientious drivers can make mistakes but people who refuse to admit their mistakes behind the wheel would frighten me too.

          Reply
          1. Kali

            It makes NO sense, but LW says the insurance found her at fault, so they must? You can’t drive our work cars if you have a tiny fender bender with a personal car on your reccord. I can’t even fathom this.

            Reply
            1. SignalLost

              I think Bees is suggesting that even though this person was banned by the insurance (I assume that would happen) the company is ignoring that. Which, if that’s the case, the company has other problems, and one will be that they will go out of business covering an accident by this person. But it’s also possible that this is in a jurisdiction that does insurance differently. I don’t think the OP identifies what country they’re in?

              Reply
      2. Paul

        that is kind of terrifying isn’t it? Like, the accident is bad–but frankly, most people I know have been in accidents and everyone I’ve driven a lot with has at least come close to having one. But the attitude afterwards is just awful here and would have me more concerned than the accident itself!

        Reply
        1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

          Yes to this! My department handles our agency’s fleet of vehicles, and I am incredulous that 1) they are saying that the bad driver is still able to drive company vehicles, and 2) that they apparently only let very few people drive, and she’s one of them!

          Reply
        2. SKA

          I just can’t understand the “it’s okay, because I just forgot” excuse.

          It’s not that different than, “It’s not a big deal, I just forgot that red means stop” or “It’s not a big deal, I just forgot that pedestrians have a right-of-way” or “It’s not a big deal, I just forgot that we drive on the right side of the road in this country.”

          Also, drivers aren’t really supposed to rely solely on the automatic collision detection, are they? I always figured it was in there as a just-in-case safety mechanism.

          Reply
          1. #WearAllTheHats

            Right? To me, the answer should be, “Oh my gosh, I totally forgot and because I forgot, I caused a crash.” Not, “How was I supposed to know the car doesn’t stop automatically? Mybad or whatever. On with life.”

            I can totally see forgetting — husband and I share two cars. One had a backup camera, one didn’t. I always expect both to have a backup camera on for some reason and stare at the dash expecting it to show me where I’m backing up until I have an a-ha moment.

            But that stuff is serious and you HAVE to claim culpability for a mess-up. It wasn’t the car’s error! Doing so might have been more effective and people might still ride with her if she admits a forgetful accident vs. brushing it off.

            Reply
            1. CarolynM

              THIS! I have 2 vehicles – a 2-door car and a full size extended cab pickup truck – so I understand momentary (MOMENTARY!!!) confusion when switching between vehicles, but this is ridiculous. If I have driven the car for a while, when I jump in the truck I reach for the gear selector in the console … where it is in the car, not on the steering column where it actually is in the truck. If I have been driving the truck a lot I get really frustrated when no one lets me switch lanes … and then I remember I am driving a smaller vehicle and only when i am in the truck do the other cars part like the Red Sea at the first flash of my blinker! The little things that are different are things you typically get mixed up with, not the basics of driving!

              This was not a simple mistake, this was abdicating all responsibility for the safety of yourself and others – no matter what vehicle you are driving, you do not rely on safety features in place of driving responsibly! Her cavalier attitude just shows that she thinks there is nothing wrong with that and in the OP’s place, I would refuse to get in a car with her too. If this took place in the US, I am curious why she was arrested because in the two accidents I have been involved in, even though the other drivers were completely at fault and were ticketed at the scene and had caused serious damage and injury (in one accident i had a dislocated collar bone, broken ribs, sprained ankle and knee and cuts and bruises), neither were arrested. The fact she was arrested beggars belief at the very idea the company is still insisting she is one of the few trusted to drive company cars!

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth West

                The fact she was arrested beggars belief at the very idea the company is still insisting she is one of the few trusted to drive company cars!

                I know; I had the same reaction. CLEARLY she was at fault or they would not have arrested her. If I worked for this company and they did nothing to resolve this, especially after any pushback, I’d be looking for another job. They obviously don’t care about anybody else’s safety.

                Reply
                1. CoveredInBees

                  Also, being at fault for an accident doesn’t usually trigger an arrest, as far as I am aware, without extenuating circumstances like appearing intoxicated or potentially fatal injuries.

                2. many bells down

                  @CoveredInBees – Yes, I have had two accidents where I was at fault; one where my brakes failed and one where I was distracted by a screaming toddler and hit a city bus. I wasn’t even ticketed (although I probably should have been for the first one).

              2. sap

                Seriously! I’m betting the arrest was because in a serious injury accident (that break sounds pretty serious) the police will usually be called, and even though I doubt the driver was intoxocated, I suspect that when the police asked what happened she kept repeating “the car didn’t brake, it was the car’s fault, the car is just supposed to stop when it gets close to a truck,” which is something that is not a common feature and that the police may have assumed meant she was on something that caused the crash.

                Like, dude.

                Reply
              3. Noobtastic

                At a guess, I’d say she was arrested because she argued with the police officer on the scene.

                “But you can’t give me a ticket! It’s not my fault. I forgot that the car doesn’t drive itself.”

                If I were a police officer, and someone said that to my face, yeah, I’d find something to charge them with, even if it was criminal stupidity. Probably “reckless endangerment.” Yeah, that sounds about right.

                Reply
            2. Annonymouse

              With her attitude I’m surprised the coworker didn’t blame the company for being too cheap to buy cars with auto sensors for the accident.

              I mean seriously.

              You were in control of the car, you didn’t control it and it crashed causing a serious injury to someone.

              This is all her fault.

              An accident I could forgive if it’s a momentary lapse in judgement/a genuine mistake and you take responsibility and it’s clearly not part of a pattern.

              This shows this person is unwilling to learn from their actions and could easily do the same mistake again.

              The attitude says “not my problem, not my fault and you being upset that I caused an injury to you is SO unjustified.”

              Reply
              1. Noobtastic

                On forgiveness: I’ve been in multiple accidents (none of them my fault. Some of us are just accident magnets. I know a woman who was rear-ended six times, and no, she was not one of those who set it up for insurance. She was just really, Really unlucky in cars). I have only held a grudge in one of those accidents.

                Usually, the person who caused the accident got out and apologized profusely and we looked at the damage (not bad) or looked at the damage (Holy Moly! Here’s my insurance information, and let’s call an ambulance!), and “Oh, I’m so sorry! I just didn’t see you in time!”

                But the one about whom I hold a grudge is the one who blamed someone else and never apologized, at all.

                Nope.

                Accidents happen all the time, and it can happen to anyone, but you take responsibility, and say you’re sorry! And if you do that, I’ll forgive you. Sure, I’ll still make sure that your insurance pays me. I’m not going to hand-wave the situation away, and say there are no consequences. But there will be no hard feelings. If you apologize.

                This woman, on the other hand… I’m envisioning something worthy of Dante for her.

                Reply
          2. Mallory Janis Ian

            “Also, drivers aren’t really supposed to rely solely on the automatic collision detection, are they? ”

            And I don’t understand how anyone even would. I mean, wouldn’t your sense of self-preservation kick in and cause you to stomp the breaks before slamming full-speed into something? Even as a passenger, people use their imaginary passenger brakes. I can’t understand going all “Jesus take the wheel” under a semi truck.

            Reply
            1. sap

              Yeah, seriously. Plus, I don’t know how this feature works since I’ve only ever seen it on TV, but my understanding is that in a lot of cars it just stops the car. Like, if traffic goes from 70 to 50, responding to that by using a feature that will stop your car short just before it hits the car in front of you is so, so dangerous!!

              Reply
              1. Abby

                Yeah, our newest car has adaptive cruise control (which is a godsend on long, monotonous highway drives) and automatic braking, but I’ve never relied on my car to stop for me. There are warnings ALL OVER about how you’re still responsible for paying attention to your surroundings, too.

                Reply
                1. tigerStripes

                  Yeah, this type of thing is too important to rely on a car sensor working perfectly. The sensors should be for extra protection, not a replacement for paying attention.

            2. Ted Mosby

              Only explanation I can think of is she was on her phone or otherwise distracted and patting minimum amount of attention.

              Reply
            3. Noobtastic

              After the fourth accident (I’m a magnet), if I’m not driving, I prefer to be in the back, so no one can see me stomping all over the imaginary passenger brakes. Also, I stomp less frequently from the back seat, because I don’t fully see what’s coming.

              It may seem like I’m in a taxi, but there’s a lot less screaming that way, and my friends are much happier with the situation.

              Reply
          3. Ted Mosby

            It’s even worse than that, because it’s some how “it’s not my fault, I forgot!” Which is totally and completely illogical.

            Not only is my mind blown at the fact that she’s still allowed to drive company cars, but the way she’s acting about having caused an accident and injured a coworker is problematic for any employee.

            The first is just totally thoughtless. Tbe second is a refusal to take responsibility for her actions or admit she’s done anything wrong, even in a very clear cut scenario. This is one of those huge personality flaws that usually makes you a less than ideal employee/friend/etc. and even if she never needed to drive for work would raise MAJOR red flags for me as an employer.

            Cannot imagine why she thinks this is a “witch hunt” when she admits to having been at fault in the accident. Does she think witches were actually killing peoples crops for fun and just didn’t appreciate being called out on it? Would love her to explain this to me.

            Reply
            1. Noobtastic

              Yeah, and who would even want to WORK with a person who caused a co-worker an injury (pain she will remember for as long as that bone is healing, plus possibly any time the weather changes, for the rest of her life), and doesn’t even show the co-worker sympathy for her pain, but instead accuses her of exaggerating?

              Like, “I wouldn’t even be feeling this pain, if it weren’t for you, so don’t TELL me I’m exaggerating, every time I say OW!”

              No, I would not want to be on the same team with her, at all.

              Reply
          4. Traffic_Spiral

            Yeah. Like, if you were used to driving an automatic, would they accept “It’s not my fault I forgot you have to use the clutch?” Or would they be like “well, if you can’t drive a stick, don’t drive stick?”

            Reply
        3. aebhel

          Yes! I was in a couple of bad car accidents when I was a novice driver–both of which were my fault, and which I was ticketed for–but (a) I was a teenager both times and (b) I got driving lessons afterward. If you’re at fault for an accident, you take responsibility and take steps to keep it from happening again! You don’t just blow the whole thing off as a witch hunt!

          Reply
        4. Katie the Fed

          I was in a BAD accident about 10 years ago. Totalled my car and another one – luckily nobody was hurt. I responded by slowing my ass down in the future.

          Reply
        5. Artemesia

          This one doesn’t feel like an ‘accident’ which is why she was arrested. Stuff happens; most of us have had a fender bender from time to time and sometimes it is our fault. But totally a car by ramming the back of an 18 wheeler — lucky they weren’t dead. And this was negligence which is why she was arrested. It is amazing the company would risk having her drive a company car after that. The OP should not risk her own life. Period.

          Reply
          1. aebhel

            Even in a serious car accident where one driver is clearly at fault, it seems odd to me that someone would be arrested on the spot unless there was something else going on. When I was 17, I was t-boned by another car doing about 55 mph because I had failed to yield the right of way–I was an inexperienced driver, but it was absolutely negligence on my part, and both cars were totaled. I was written a ticket, but I wasn’t arrested. IANL, but I think in most cases negligence requires more egregious behavior than a momentary lapse of attention while behind the wheel. Makes me wonder if she mouthed off to the cop, or was under the influence, or something.

            Reply
            1. Ted Mosby

              Yea, any lawery types care to comment on this? Very confused as to why she would have been arrested.

              Reply
              1. Anonymous Boomer

                Maybe she had some warrants out for other issues….outstanding tickets, or something else?
                You don’t typically go to jail for an accident or ticket unless it borders on criminal behavior
                (reckless driving, dui, gross negligence, hit and run).

                Reply
              2. DVSA lawyer

                Probably reckless driving. It’s a full misdemeanor in my state with mandatory jail time. And if she told the police she was expecting the car to stop FOR her than she would be able to be charged and convicted.

                Also, the company is just asking to be sued. The injured person can sue the company for her injuries and pain/suffering. The truck driver can sue. The truck driver’s company can sue. They are directly liable for literally everything she did that day. I can’t believe they aren’t banning her from getting behind the wheel of a car they own ever again.

                Reply
            2. SignalLost

              Hell, my first accident, I hit a cop. (After Much Fun & Games, TM, I was found not guilty and the city had to pay for my totalled car.) I wasn’t arrested. I was ticketed, and I wasn’t let out of my car, and it rained cops for a while, but I wasn’t arrested. And I’m pretty sure the officer I hit, based on his courtroom testimony, thought I was at fault.

              Reply
      3. AnnaleighUK

        It sounds like she’s become too reliant on the car’s gadgets and forgotten that even with those you still have to be paying attention and DRIVE. Until driverless cars become a Thing everyone is going to have to actually pay attention when behind the wheel.

        And she shouldnt be allowed near a company vehicle after causing an accident. I wouldn’t get in a car with anyone who drove along assuming ‘the car will do it for me’ – you must pay attention. This is awful – definitely make a case for not getting in a car with someone with that attitude!

        Reply
        1. Amber T

          The radio show I listen to in the mornings just talked about keyless cars – the host rented a car that had a key and forgot how to start the car. To be fair, I drive and olderish (2011) car with zero upgrades, so the fanciest thing in my car is cruise control (which, like the coworker, I enjoy using, but unlike the coworker… I pay attention to the road). Assuming you’ve been driving since you were 16-18 and you’re an adult in the professional world, you’ve probably been driving for 10+ years. That sensor thing that slows down your car is relatively new, so I don’t understand how you just forget.

          OP, your coworker’s response is horrifying, and your company’s response is even more so. Also, there’s a *very* good chance that student will sue your coworker and potentially (probably) the company – if everyone involved is saying it’s coworker’s fault, including the police, his medical insurance at the very least might start a legal process.

          Reply
          1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

            I didn’t even think of that; it could be the case where the student’s insurance won’t pay unless they try to sue (like the aunt that had to sue her nephew for damages so the insurance would pay out).

            Reply
          2. kittymommy

            This reminds me of when I drive one of our company cars. Now I have never owned anything newer than a 1999 car so it took me a good five minutes to get the darn thing to start because apparently you have to step on the brake to start cars now. I felt ridiculous.

            Reply
            1. GigglyPuff

              I had no idea that was a thing. I have a 2001 and have driven a couple of rentals, but that probably would’ve stumped me. Now I know, thanks!
              (Although after thinking about it, I realize I automatically put my foot on the brake when I get in before I turn it on, not sure if I actually compress it, but definitely one of those habits you do so much you don’t think about it.)

              Reply
              1. Dust Bunny

                My parents’ 2006 Toyota (automatic transmission), yes, you have to step on the brake. I didn’t know this *wasn’t* a thing because I’ve always had standards and assumed you always had to step on a pedal somewhere to start a car. :-)

                Reply
                1. aebhel

                  I have a 2010 Toyota, and I don’t have to step on the brake to start it (to shift gears, yes, but not to start it). I wonder if it’s specific to certain models.

                2. Koko ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                  I still drive standard, and we’re a dying breed. It was so difficult to find in a 2016 Honda Fit that I had to have one shipped to my dealership from another hundreds of miles away.

                  My previous car, a Suzuki, had a smart key but still had a key ignition on the steering column. You could just turn the ignition without the key physically present if the smart key was present. I much preferred that to Honda’s push-button start because in a standard transmission there’s no way to go directly from engaged to accessory. When the engine is engaged, pushing the button shuts it off, and then you have to press it again to get into accessory. This isn’t an issue in automatics, because the behavior of the push button varies depending on if you’re in drive (button switches to accessory) or park (button powers off). But since I have no “park” gear, there’s only one behavior available. It surprised me when I realized how often I arrive somewhere and need to wait around for a while, and I want to keep playing music but don’t want to idle and spew out a bunch of pollution because I’m sitting in place and don’t need climate control. It’s just annoying having to cut everything off and then restart again.

              2. CityMouse

                I don’t think it is a bad habit to have because it protects you if say, the car was still in reverse when it was turned off and you did not notice.

                Reply
                1. Lefty

                  Very true!

                  We actually had a staff member forget to put our car in “Park” when parking it in our lot. Luckily the vehicle automatically goes into “Park” when the keys are removed, but we realized the issue when the next user couldn’t get the car to start; the engine would not start until the lever was actually moved into “Park”. Huge differences between our situation and OP’s- no one was injured and our coworker took FULL responsibility and apologized profusely. He also volunteered to not drive for a few months, but the managers declined his offer.

                2. Gaia

                  I didn’t realize you could remove a key from the ignition if your car was in gear. Every car I’ve owned (the oldest was a 2003) if you turn the car off with the gear any other than park, you cannot remove the key.

              3. SophieChotek

                Yes me too. but I now that I think about it, I think I have to step on the brake to shift gears?

                But back to the OP’s coworker…I would not want to ride with her either and I’m shocked the company is so cavalier about the entire issue, especially when they had to write off the car no less!

                Reply
                1. Amadeo

                  The brake often acts as the clutch would in a standard if you’re driving an automatic. You use it both to facilitate switching gears from drive to reverse to neutral, but also to keep the car from flying in whatever direction you send it once you’ve found your gear.

                2. Slave to a toddler overlord

                  My car can still drive with the key fob outside the car. We actually do this all the time when getting mail and the mail key and the fob are on the same key chain.

              4. Bea

                It’s important to remember every car that is not your daily vehicle will be different. I drive numerous cars and trucks for work and pleasure (my boss had me use his truck, my friends have me drive their cars because they hate driving, are ill or something and I rent cars for trips etc)

                So it’s good to be aware that many newer cars may have the mechanism that require you to step on the brake to start but no, it’s not a “all newer cars have this now!” thing. 2 rental cars in 4 months, one had that, one did not. One had keyless push to start that is the thing I loath the most, that leads me to fear leaving my keys in the ignition one day and causing a lockout, locks don’t pop the same way of course, doh.

                It’s like when you didn’t know the cars lights won’t automatically turn off. My daily car does, my moms nicer than mine vehicle, slightly newer even does not.

                Reply
            2. ThatGirl

              A couple years ago I had some work done at the dealer and they loaned me a newer car that had the keyless start, and I didn’t know about the brake thing either – I finally had to go back inside and ask how to start it, I felt like such a dingbat.

              Reply
              1. Elizabeth West

                I’ve had Oliver (my car) since 2012 and I STILL forget / am not sure how to do certain things I hardly ever use (mostly the dome light; I messed that up and could not for the life of me reset it). Now I keep the manual in the glove box just in case!

                Reply
            3. Artemesia

              I thought that was standard in all cars and had been forever. It is such an automatic thing with me that I never thought about it.

              Reply
          3. CMF

            We have two cars – one of them is keyless, one is regular. My husband and I switch who drives which car, and our problem generally is trying to put the key in a non-existent port, not trying to drive without using the key.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              My car has the ignition on the dash next to the steering wheel, rather than on the steering column itself like most cars. Anytime I drive my mom’s or partner’s cars, I always stab the dash with the key at least once before remembering, hey, this isn’t my car, ignition is somewhere else.

              Reply
              1. DArcy

                My car has the ignition on the *console* between the shifter and the emergency brake. Apparently the classic (pre General Motors buyout) Saabs did it that way too.

                Reply
            2. Turquoise Cow

              I do that all the time in my husband’s push button car. Also I tend to turn his lights on, because he has his set on automatic and my car doesn’t do that.

              Also whenever we switch cars, we have problems with the wipers – the controls are totally backward.

              My mom had a car with the shift on the steering wheel forever, so even though she’s driven her console shift for ten years now, she still occasionally turns the wipers on or something when she means to park.

              Reply
          4. Infinity anon

            I thought the sensor thing was supposed to be back up so that the car would slow or stop even if you were distracted or too slow. If you are using it as the primary way of stopping in traffic, that is a huge problem! What if the sensor stops working?

            Reply
            1. LDP

              Some cars now have “adaptive cruise control”, which adjusts your speed depending on traffic in front of you, so maybe that’s the sensor she’s talking about? I’m not sure if that technology would actually stop the car, but I do know it can slow you down significantly.

              Reply
              1. MCMonkeyBean

                I will slow you down but if traffic on the highway is at a sudden stop relying on that seems like it would cause an accident either way–even if it slams on the brake automatically to prevent you from hitting the car in front of you, the car behind you would be likely to then slam into you because your car stopped so suddenly.

                Reply
                1. blackcat

                  Yes, but the car is far less likely to slam on the breaks in such a way that it loses control (which is in general far more dangerous–if you’re going to get in an accident, you want to get hit at the ends, not at the sides, and not roll over). So I’ll take the car stopping feature over not having it.

          5. Anna

            I don’t know if you read Bloom County, but way back in the long, long times ago, one of the comics was a group of the characters on a trip in an RV and Opus the Penguin was driving. At one point all of the characters are sitting around a table talking and one of them says, “Wait, who’s driving?” Opus says, “It’s okay. I put it on cruise control.” The next panel is the RV bouncing off the road and wrecking. This is exactly the person Berke Breathed was talking about.

            Reply
            1. Your Weird Uncle

              Ha, also a scene in The Simpsons (in an episode where Bart gets a fake ID and he and some other kids rent a car over spring break). :D

              ps. kudos for the Bloom County reference! Our stuffed Opus that I got when I was 12 has pride of place at the top of our stairs.

              Reply
          6. Turquoise Cow

            A coworker of my mom’s bought a (new) hybrid car with a push button start. Got in the car and drove it to the store immediately after buying it, then freaked out because the car wouldn’t start in the parking lot. Only much later did someone tell him that you have to step on the brake to start the car.

            I’ve always driven key-turning automatic cars and I always step on the brake. Not sure if this was a thing I was taught or if older cars required it. My husband has a push-button start and I’ve never had a problem because I step on the brake anyway.

            Reply
      4. Izacus

        As someone how owns a car with active cruise control I can easily see how that could happen to someone. It’s not that you forget to break in a crossroad or that kind of condition. It’s that it’s probably easy to set cruise control on a highway and forget that car won’t stop itself if the traffic jams.

        Reply
        1. Isben Takes Tea

          If you do *anything* in a car that makes you forget your responsibility of driving a 2000-pound high-velocity death machine, you need to stop doing that thing.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            +1000000

            I don’t care how sophisticated the technology is, unless we reach literal driverless cars, the human in the driver’s seat is responsible for operating the vehicle, full stop. You can’t just “forget” that responsibility – if you “forget” that you have to oversee operation of the vehicle and just expect it to do it for you, you shouldn’t be driving.

            Reply
            1. teclatrans

              This happened to me once. I was on cruise control for a very long time, and when traffic slowed down, I had a moment of expecting the car to adjust. That moment was followed by taking control of the car, braking appropriately (albeit a bit later than I am comfortable with), saying “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, what the what, self?” And NEVER again letting myself zone out with cruise control.

              My mom won’t even use cruise control because she thinks it removed some of the mental sharpness of drivers, who are relying on the car to handle things.

              Reply
              1. Floundering Mander

                I never used cruise control when doing long, tedious drives for exactly this reason. If I was getting sleepy the car slowing down would jolt me into realising it was time to stop.

                Reply
              2. Noobtastic

                I have rarely even driven a car with cruise control, but when I do have a car with cruise control, I generally only use it when there are cops around, and I want to be absolutely certain that I do not speed.

                I figure, I can step on the breaks, and go slower or stop, if necessary, but so long as my foot is off the gas, I can’t get a ticket for speeding.

                That, in my own mind, is the only reason for cruise control. It’s not like my foot gets to relax, because it stays hovering over the brake the whole time.

                I prefer not to use it, at all.

                Reply
          2. Adlib

            Exactly. People often demonstrate on the road that they “forget” that they literally can be death machines.

            Reply
        2. TBoT

          As someone who shares the road with you, I encourage you not to be so reliant on this feature that there is *any* risk you will cause an accident by forgetting to brake.

          Reply
        3. CityMouse

          You are 100% never ever supposed to use auto stop regularly. It is designed to save you as a back up, not designed or intended for routine use.

          Reply
            1. CityMouse

              You see in in car ads, always shown where a car stops suddenly in front or a kid runs behind the car. It is not advertised for routine use. In that Tesla case where the guy was watching movies, Tesla made clear it was not supposed to be used like that and the guy apparently ignore a bunch of warning bells before he crashed. I can imagine auto brake would also tend to jerk a bit more than a normal controlled stop because it is an emergency feature. Just a bad idea all around.

              Reply
              1. Turquoise Cow

                Although some Teslas have an “autopilot,” you do have to have your hands touching the wheel while moving. If you don’t, the car alerts you, and then eventually begins to slow down.

                Also, I think they’ve now disabled the video watching capability of the in-dash browser while you’re moving. I remember a friend who owns one told me that it would not load YouTube.

                Reply
            2. Purplesaurus

              Me either. My car’s a 2015 with keyless and all manner of other features, but it still requires me to actually drive it.

              Reply
          1. Bolt

            I can’t believe how many people think the feature means they don’t need to use the break… can you imagine watching your car run down a child because the sensor didn’t work in time but you could’ve breaked???

            I did a report on self driving cars and the tech I interviewed said there will always be a need for humans to be attentive and take over with little to no warning. But so many think they’ll be able to nap or text while their car drives around for them.

            Reply
            1. Antilles

              I did a report on self driving cars and the tech I interviewed said there will always be a need for humans to be attentive and take over with little to no warning.
              Not to derail too heavily, but this is actually the problem with the current trend of ‘semi-automated cars’. Humans are absolutely horrible at paying attention when it’s not necessary. Ask any security guard or soldier – it’s incredibly difficult to stay focused for long periods of time when nothing’s happening even when you literally could be looking at the barrel end of death.
              If we can’t get people to pay attention to the road *now* when cars are actually controlled by drivers personally, it’s naive to the point of foolishness to assume that drivers will become better at paying attention when the car is mostly driving itself.

              Reply
              1. Matilda Jefferies

                Yes, this is where the idea falls apart for me as well. I can’t imagine how the human brain could go from lazing along, sorta kinda paying attention, to PAY ATTENTION AND TAKE EVASIVE ACTION NOW!!!! in the millisecond that you sometimes have to make that switch.

                I just don’t think humans are capable of sustaining the level of attentiveness required for routine driving (including the potential for a sudden shift to accident avoidance), when they’re not actually driving.

                Reply
                1. Jadelyn

                  Hell, the human brain doesn’t always successfully get from “regular driving” to “EVASIVE ACTION” in that millisecond even when you’re paying full attention. Human reflexes have their limits. Mentally checking out to let a computer drive for you is only going to make that worse.

              2. Gaia

                Exactly. Until all cars are fully automated, semi automation is just unsafe. Not because of the technology but because of the humans behind the wheels.

                Reply
              3. IrishUp

                It’s not exactly a “humans are horrible” problem.

                It’s how nervous systems have evolved. It’s impossible to attend to *everything*, which is why organisms with central nervous systems have selective attention to some degree or other. Our CNS is designed to attend to novelty, movement & change, and to “habituate” that is, tend to ignore, stuff that is unchanging, unmoving, or familiar. The inability (or impaired ability) to do selective attention can lead to severe neurocognitive problems, and does not appear to improve reaction times or ability to interact (actually, quite the opposite as many a neurodivergent person can attest).

                So it’s not so much that “we can’t get people to pay attention” as “it’s nearly impossible to swim upstream against millions of years of evolution, in this particular way”. Kinda like trying to train an elephant to jump; the physiology is just not designed for it.

                Reply
            2. Relly

              This is disappointing to hear. I get frequent migraines, with auras that completely throw my vision / depth perception. There are times I’ve had to nap in my car while waiting for someone to pick me up, because there’s no way I can or should drive. I’ve been hoping driverless cars go mainstream quickly, so I could make it home on days like that.

              Reply
              1. BenAdminGeek

                Well, long term there will be fully driverless cars that won’t require any real input. But that’s a ways off- for now it’s assistance vs control. That’s my dream as well…

                Reply
              2. Specialk9

                I am expecting fully driverless cars to be a thing within 10 years. It’ll revolutionize things for those with disabilities and age related driving impairments. If we humans can learn to share cars, we could really improve the environment and free up people from the huge costs of car ownership, which would help with social stratification. I’m not holding my breath for the latter, but even just transforming life for people who can’t drive optimally… That would be great.

                Reply
            3. Jaguar

              Yeah. I don’t have anything insightful to add but I feel compelled to say, “Holy shit, there are people on the road that aren’t breaking now!?”

              Reply
                1. Specialk9

                  I’ve seen the f-word. This site seems to draw, and moderate, a thoughtful crowd so people don’t seem to abuse the ability to curse.

          2. Falling Diphthong

            I’m astonished that there was one person who did this, and now there are at least two. It’s supposed to be an emergency safety feature, not to take over car management so you can crawl into the back seat and look for a missing paper.

            Reply
            1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

              I’m sure I’m going to hell for this, but now I’m giggling, imagining the driver having to go to the hospital with injuries to her backside, and having to explain “No, it’s not a sex game gone wrong, I really was in a car accident!”

              Nothing actually funny about what happened, mind you, and, as everyone else has already stated, this is an *emergency* feature; not meant for common use.

              Reply
          3. Allison

            As I understand it, auto-stop is for unexpected, sudden objects or people in the road that wouldn’t normally give you time to react. It’s also helpful if you *do* ever get distracted while driving, but having it doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay attention to the road anymore.

            I can’t imagine not instinctively hitting the brake when you see something or someone in front of you.

            Reply
            1. Case of the Mondays

              I don’t have it but I wonder if it avoids having to turn cruise control back on every time you break. If it auto breaks and auto accelerates I can see people preferring that to the real break which turns off cruise. My husband loves (regular) cruise control. I hate it. I find I don’t react fast enough when I do need to break if I have it on. It’s weird. It’s like if I’m using my foot on the accelerator, my mind is already controlling my foot so it can get my foot to the break faster. If I’m not using my foot on the accelerator, my mind has to first say “hey foot!” and then move it.

              Reply
              1. On Fire

                This is exactly why my dad always hated cruise control. He pointed out that your instinctive reaction is to lift your foot off the accelerator, which begins the slowing process before you ever hit the brake. If cruise control is going, you lose that split-second advantage, and even a split second can make a difference. (I do use cruise control, but only in open stretches of highway without other traffic.)

                I’m as appalled by the company’s response as the driver’s, though. I’ve known of two employees in my workplace that got DUIs off the clock in their personal vehicle. (No wreck, no injury, “just” the DUI.) They are not allowed to drive company vehicles any more, and our insurance carrier won’t cover them.

                Reply
                1. Talia

                  Even as a child who couldn’t drive yet, the concept of cruise control made me nervous because of the risk of not paying attention. Now, as an adult who drives… even if I get a car with cruise control, I’m never going to *use* it.

              2. Natalie

                Yes, this exactly! I hate cruise control, because it feels like all of my reactions are wrong, too slow, too jerky, etc. And because of that, I don’t consider it safe for me so I don’t use it.

                Reply
                1. tigerStripes

                  I used cruise control once a bit on a trip, but it makes me too nervous. I also worry that I might not slow down as fast as I would when my foot is on the pedal. When I’m driving, I tend to automatically slow down or at least lift my foot off the speed when cars ahead of me slow down – that’s useful to me, and I don’t want to retrain myself to use cruise control.

                2. Specialk9

                  I get shin splints on long drives, esp with a stick shift, so I find it useful. I wouldn’t use it with another car nearby, and I scan actively for killer deer, but in back country a cruise control feature is helpful.

              3. Gaia

                Yep. Plus my brake pedal is weirdly high but not too much higher than the gas. So my foot could also snag going from floor to brake. Everyone laughed when I specifically got a 2017 without Cruise Control. But I don’t use it, I didn’t want it. I don’t drive the same with these little automations and after my last accident (not my fault, by the driver was relying on something similar) I don’t like the risk of relying on them.

                Reply
              4. Turquoise Cow

                My husband’s car has adaptive cruise control. It took me a while to be comfortable with using it.

                The idea is that if you’re in traffic – not standstill traffic, but heavy traffic – you don’t have to brake every time the guy in front of you does, or if someone cuts in front of you. You set how much space you want to leave between you and oncoming cars (never close enough to be tailgating unsafely), and the car basically adjusts its speed based on maintaining that distance.

                If the car in front of you comes to a complete stop, your car will slow down and beep at you, alerting you to actually hit the brake yourself. It won’t allow you to hit the car in front of you, but it also expects you to hit the actual brakes at this point, because the car can’t really do it as well.

                There’s a connected but separate feature where if the car senses a solid object in front of it, it will beep at you to alert you of impending collision, and slow – even if you’re not using the cruise control. You are still expected to hit the brakes, because the car does not slam them on as quickly as you might want (they company would probably be sued for causing injury if they did). I’ve actually found this feature mildly annoying because it starts to slow long before I would, and sometimes the car in front of me is moving out of my way and there was little to no risk of me hitting it at all.

                All cars may or may not work for this. My husband has a 1.5 year old Nissan.

                Also, the Tesla (he plans to get one when the lower priced models are available next year), uses cameras for this feature. It recognizes the back of a car only. So if an animal or person is in front of you, you need to be aware of it and hit the brakes even if you’re using the cruise or autopilot features. Also, if a car goes, say, across the highway in front of you, it won’t stop.

                You still have to pay attention, bottom line.

                Reply
        4. Alison Read

          That is upsetting to hear. I just watched my friend’s dash cam video from last night. He was driving his Tesla on auto and a car abruptly switched lanes into his. He took over the control with a freakishly fast reaction time and managed to avoid what seemed to be a guaranteed collision.

          Watching and listening to the dash cam coverage – he just happened to be discussing the Tesla’s auto pilot feature at the time – it was frightening and very apparent that had he, the human in control, not been paying attention the the car’s slowing down in the next lane, there would have been a collision at highway speeds.

          Active cruise control, lane warnings, even Teslas are not failproof with other humans controlling vehicles around you, you must must must recognize you are still responsible for braking and controlling your vehicle – excusing the accident on getting confused between vehicles is a red herring. She should have realized the auto braking she was expecting wasn’t happening and acted appropriately – denying that her driving skills were at fault is inexcusable.

          Reply
          1. Turquoise Cow

            Yeah, the Tesla’s autopilot still expects you to pay attention – you have to keep your hands on the wheel, for example – for this reason. It’s got some awesome safety features, but the driver still needs to intervene sometimes. Blaming the car is unacceptable.

            Reply
          2. Specialk9

            I don’t understand. That’s exactly the scenario that a Tesla is designed for. Are you sure the car wasn’t already braking? Because the only example I’ve heard of that braking not happening was when a white panel van suddenly turned in front of a car, and the cameras couldn’t detect that it wasn’t a cloudy sky.

            Reply
        5. Britt

          This is exactly why I stopped using my back up camera. I got in my mom’s car once that doesn’t have it and was astonished and how much I realized I relied on it

          Reply
          1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

            It’s really silly to stop using a safety feature that is required on newer models. That’s like saying you turn off anti-lock breaking systems or something. Those cameras help you see if there’s someone behind you and save lives.

            Reply
            1. Anna

              I wonder if there’s any actual information to back that up. I think it’s sold in a fear tactic way to get people to add it on to their cars, but I’m not sure I believe it’s actually a necessity or a feature that actually provides the service its sold to provide. Basically, I don’t think running over children you didn’t see behind the car was a scourge that was begging to be addressed.

              Reply
              1. Kyrielle

                I wouldn’t argue it saves lives very often, but it can. What it does is save people from little fender-benders at low speed, and make it easier to do things. I love having that camera there – I’m doing all the same things I usually do, but I can more easily see the distances than just with mirrors and looking over my shoulder.

                How many times have I backed into something/someone in my life? None. But I’m always nervous, and I’ve more than once had someone blow past behind me in a parking lot as I’m backing out. In some cases it still wouldn’t have helped (they were driving too fast for the lot), but in others I could have seen them before my rear passenger windows cleared the huge car next to me.

                I think they may save a few lives, a few injuries, and a lot of minor property damage. And they don’t take away anything you used to have; you can still use mirrors and windows (and should!). I love them.

                (And they still won’t totally stop that sort of thing. There’s always people who just back up without looking. One of my relatives was in a car with a backup camera and backed into her sister’s car. She hadn’t looked at the mirrors or the camera because there was never anyone parked behind her in the driveway, so she was going to back to near the street and then look. *facepalm*)

                Reply
                1. Anna

                  This is what I was thinking. It does help with parallel parking and that’s the bigger issue, really. It’s not going to save lives, but it will save the kinds of dings and annoyances we are all actually dealing with day to day.

                2. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

                  If the new guy here had been using the provided backup camera in the Sprinter instead of trying to look over his shoulder on Wednesday, I wouldn’t have to do the paperwork on his backing into a private vehicle. And I wouldn’t have had to spend part of today teaching a 31 year-old how to adjust his mirrors and look at a backup camera.

              2. Mike C.

                The NTSB and NHTSA has this sort of information. Sometimes the NAS as well, but I would start with those two first.

                Reply
              3. Artemesia

                I have two acquaintances who backed over and killed children; this is over many years, but in one case it was moving day and each parent thought the other one had the 2 year old. In the other case it was a grandparent who didn’t know the toddler had run out after him and was behind the car.

                I saw a video where an entire class of first graders could stand behind an SUV and not be seen either by turning and looking or with the mirrors. WE have an old car without backup camera and I am an old lady with a stiffer neck than I once had. I am super careful to check before backing but it is a constant fear there will be someone I don’t see.

                I think every car should have a backup camera; it also makes parallel parking a snap.

                Reply
              4. Hillary

                There’s a reason UPS trucks don’t turn into a driveway if they’ll have to reverse out – backing accidents are the most common preventable accident. The only time a UPS driver is supposed to put his truck in reverse is if he’s backing into a dock.

                I heard this from one of my sales reps after he told me that their entire sales team had been instructed to always back into parking spots (or find pull through spots) because there was a high incidence of company car accidents while backing out of parking spots.

                Reply
              5. Mike C.

                Also Anna, I want to clarify something – the NHTSA requires backup cameras on all model year 2018+ vehicles. They wouldn’t have that sort of requirement without extensive data to back that up.

                Reply
                1. Anna

                  Don’t be so sure. Requirements tend to be guided by risk aversion, not by actual prevention.

                2. Mike C.

                  Anna, given the long standing reputations of the NTSB, the NHTSA and the NAS, you’re going to have to provide some basis for throwing out long established safety regulations. This sort of “but they could just be doing it for a dumb reason” is incredibly anti-intellectual. I gave you places to look and I don’t have time to do your homework for you.

                  Read the research yourself and come back with specific criticisms rather than unsubstantiated doubts.

              6. kitryan

                I have (slowly) hit a low retaining wall and a bunch of shopping carts that were being pushed behind my car – on separate occasions. In both cases, the obstacle was not visible to me in the rear view mirror as it was too low and close to the car for me to see. The camera would have seen both things.
                I do still think it was careless of the shopping cart collector to be pushing the long stack of carts behind a car with its lights on that was clearly getting ready to pull out of the parking space.

                Reply
              7. Perse's Mom

                Given I very nearly backed into an unsupervised child who was wheeling around our parking lot on a tricycle because I couldn’t see him directly behind my previous vehicle and that’s not something that can happen in my newer car with a functioning back-up camera unless I’m… oh, I dunno, completely ignoring it for some ridiculous reason…

                Reply
              8. Specialk9

                Little kids walk to elementary school, behind my car. (My parking space has to cross the sidewalk to get to the street.) And while I’m stoked that parents let kids free-range to school, it still means that some teeny kids are walking by themselves, often not paying attention. I check all my mirrors, go slow, and pray every time. I wish I had a backup camera to be sure.

                Reply
            2. Kimberly

              But not all features are good safety features for every person.

              Back up cameras for example. Some people in my family have found them to be dangerous because they find the distance jumps around. The same people put their GPS where they have to turn their head to see it and only look at it when stopped. We use the voice directions while driving. Otherwise, we tend to watch the screen instead of the road. Those with this problem all have at least one LD involving visual information and we think that is the source of the problem.

              I have adaptive cruise control and find that I tend to disengage it earlier than the computer. In part because my GPS warns me of slow downs or other problems that are just out of view.

              This is one case where I hope the intern does sue the pants off the company and the at fault driver because both of them need a clue by four upside the head.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                Look, when it comes to issues about highway safety, I’m going to defer to experts like the NTSB and the NHTSA over the musings of a random person.

                No one should be disabling safety devices and those devices wouldn’t be certified on vehicles sold to the public unless they were properly tested by outside experts. This isn’t an optional or “just for some people” kind of thing. It’s not only dangerous, it’s also illegal.

                Reply
                1. aebhel

                  I keep the traction control disabled on my car because (1) it doesn’t actually help prevent skidding and (2) it makes it impossible to drive uphill in slippery conditions. If the ‘experts’ have a problem with it, then they can come tow my car up the road all winter.

                  Also, it’s news to me that backup cameras are legally mandated, given that I’ve never driven a car that had them.

                2. aebhel

                  Right, that’s probably why Toyota puts a button on the dash that allows you to enable or disable it according to your driving preference. Because it’s ZOMG SO DANGEROUS AND ILLEGAL.

            1. paperfiend

              I love the backup camera on our car. Not so much for the “checking for hidden objects behind”, though that’s useful as a doublecheck, but because it lets me see the parking stall lines behind me when I’m parking. No more opening the door to see how far I am on the sides or if I’m all the way into a spot when I pull through! Just put it in reverse for a moment to check before moving to “park”.

              Reply
              1. Anancy

                I think this suggestion might change my life–I’m always opening doors to check lines and never thought of this solution!

                Reply
          2. Hedgehog

            This doesn’t make sense to me. It seems comparable to someone saying a few decades ago when passenger side mirrors were non-standard that they were not going to use the side mirror so they don’t get used to it, even though it improves the safety for them and others on the road while they are driving the car that does have it.

            It sounds like the driver in this letter was using a feature on her own car in a way that it was not intended to be used, which is a problem in its own right even before you get to the point of forgetting that the company car doesn’t have it.

            Reply
            1. Kate 2

              It does make sense when instead of aiding the driver it “takes over” a task that the driver is perfectly capable of safely doing. Like paying attention to the road and breaking when there is something in front of you.

              Reply
              1. Perse's Mom

                But that’s a driver problem, not a technology problem, which is the whole point of the letter.

                Reply
          3. Elizabeth West

            When Oliver got hit on my birthday in 2013, the other driver’s insurance paid for me to use a 2013 Dodge Charger as a rental and it had a back-up cam. I HATED IT. I was so happy to get my little car back, I can’t tell you.

            Reply
        6. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

          I’m trying to imagine this scenario; what do the drivers do, then, when they assume the car will stop automatically? Are they not watching the road at all? I just can’t imagine not braking at all, even when you’re about to hit the back of a semi. So maybe neither of them was looking at the road, because I also can’t imagine the student not yelling “Hit the brakes!” at some point, either.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            I think people are conflating two different features: smart cruise control and emergency auto-break. Admittedly either would have prevented this accident, but I believe the feature at issue is smart cruise control, which is supposed to maintain a set distance between you and the car in front of you by reducing or increasing speed as needed, as opposed to auto break, which is very abrupt and is for emergencies only. That said, the minimum distance for smart cruise control is fairly conservative and anyone paying attention really ought to notice that the car in front is getting too close and engage the break themselves.

            Reply
            1. Book Lover

              Auto brake will only reduce speed by 13mph, I think. I had an accident like this – no accidents in two decades, got a new car, wearing new heels, trying to brake hard and the car was auto braking, still had a ‘fender bender’ bad enough to cause over 10k damage to new car :(. Wouldn’t have happened if I was driving my old car. Unfamiliarity and a bit too much reliance on the technology.

              Reply
              1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

                When you say you were trying to brake hard, were you unable to because of the heels, or because the car was auto-braking?

                Reply
              2. LBK

                A quick bit of research suggests that 13mph is the limit at which auto-brake can completely avoid a crash – that is, if you’re going less than 13mph, auto-brake has enough time to recognize the potential crash and engage itself that it can safely stop you before you hit the obstruction. Faster than that and it will slow you down to help mitigate the damage but it doesn’t have enough time to stop you completely.

                I’d imagine this has something to do with whiplash concerns, since when you slam on the brakes yourself your body at least has a little time to instinctively prepare for the rebound. If the car is doing it itself, they probably don’t want to completely slam on the brakes from faster speed since it could still injure you pretty significantly without time to brace yourself.

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                1. LBK

                  …although some further research suggests the technology may have improved now so that it does work at highway speeds, although it still may not be able to safely brake fast enough to completely stop the car depending on your speed and how closely you’re following the car in front of you.

                2. MegaMoose, Esq.

                  Anecdotally, my husband had the auto-break go off at highway speeds a few months ago in a 2017 model and it completely prevented an accident. He got a mighty bruise from the seat-belt, though.

                3. blackcat

                  The big advantage of auto-break at highway speeds is that the car will not break so hard that it spins out (if the system has been designed correctly, which generally, they have been). Slamming on the breaks at highways speeds frequently causes spin-outs or rolls, which are often more dangerous than hitting another car head-on.

                  So you might still not stop in time to avoid hitting what’s in front of you, but you will hit that object slower, and not spin out/roll your car. Overall, that’s a good thing. Safety features aren’t designed to avoid all injuries–they are designed to make things less severe. Total prevention often is not possible.

                  @MegaMoose, it is well known that seatbelts regularly break collar bones and airbags break noses. The idea is that a broken nose or collarbone, while unpleasant, is highly preferably to death. So just a bruise is a win!

                  (Side note: I am tremendously grateful my dad now has a car with auto-breaking feature. He had gotten in FIVE accidents because the man could not help but read his email in stop and go highway traffic. FIVE ACCIDENTS. All 100% his fault, though not all were reported to insurance–he just paid off a couple of people. All accidents were very minor, but FIVE!!! He still reads email in stop and go traffic, but he has been accident-free for the two years he has owned the new car.)

          2. tigerStripes

            The student might have felt the way I did once when I was a passenger in a car that almost got into an accident (fortunately the driver in the other car was a defensive driver) (I never let the driver drive me anywhere ever again). I saw the problem happening (a merge and the driver wasn’t merging), and I was so scared I couldn’t manage to say anything. I think I’d opened my mouth and was trying to say something.

            Reply
        7. Observer

          For about 2 seconds, maybe. But once you see that the TRUCK in front of you is NOT moving, and you ARE moving, that should remind you right quick that the car is NOT going to stop. If it’s that hard to remember, you need to not be driving.

          Reply
          1. boop the first

            This is probably a clue as to her arrest. I mean, in order for there to be an arrest, she must have been caught in a crime rather than just “derrr I forgot to brake.” Maybe texting? Reading a book? And with the passenger witnessing the entire thing unfolding I have to wonder what on earth actually happened. Was the passenger asleep? Did the driver ignore her wails and warnings? Was the DRIVER asleep?

            Reply
        8. Danger: Gumption Ahead

          But this is a car she routinely drives, since she is the only authorized driver for an office where off-site meetings with clients are routine. I could maybe buy forgetting if it was an unfamiliar car, but one that she drives regularly? Nope. My guess is she was distracted by something else or impaired in some way (new medication? rough night before?) and is using the automatic breaking to cover herself

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        9. peachie

          Oh boy. This is bad advice. Most cars with cruise control don’t have this feature, and until all cars are self-driving, you should always be prepared to react suddenly to any changes on the road.

          Going back to the woman in OP’s letter, I’m a bit puzzled by her explanation. I was in a similar accident recently (last in a 5-car pileup). I wasn’t using cruise control but I was driving at the speed limit (65) on a highway, so even keeping well behind the car in front of me and slamming on the brakes as soon as I saw that they were slowing wasn’t enough to totally stop my car in time. (Fortunately, I was able to slow down enough that everyone involved was fine and my car didn’t cause or incur too much damage.)

          So, I get it–being in such an accident is scary. I’ll admit that if I were driving faster or closer to the car in front of me or just not paying as much attention–all things I have done while driving–things would have been much worse.

          Still, there absolutely is time to react in that situation, and even if she believed that the car was supposed to automatically stop, there should have been at least a second or two in which she noticed that the car wasn’t decelerating at all.

          Reply
        10. Snark

          I can both easily see how it could happen, and mercilessly judge those who are so incompetent as to let it happen. If you’re not 100% on the ball in a car, you’re one of the most dangerous things in modern American society.

          Reply
        11. JamieS

          I can understand a person forgetting a car doesn’t have a sensor if she’s accustomed to having one. Where it lies with me is she never slowed down. No car can defy the laws of physics and at some point most competent drivers are going to realize the car hasn’t slowed down when it should have and manually apply the brake.

          In other words thinking the car will slow down automatically when you’re half a mile away is reasonable not realizing something is wrong when you’re barreling towards a semi that’s 20 feet away from you at 70 MPH isn’t.

          Reply
        12. Not Rebee

          IDK about you, but when I use cruise control my foot automatically hovers on the brake. I don’t move my foot away from the pedals entirely ever unless the car is in park. So, no it’s not easy to forget that the car won’t stop itself just because it’s moving itself forward. You are always responsible for steering your car and stopping your car yourself. These are literally the only essential functions of a driver (not hitting the gas may make it hard to drive, but it is not something you are responsible for doing 100% of the time behind the wheel, whereas you have to be able to steer or stop at any moment 100% of the time) so forgetting these just because you’ve put cruise control on is just irresponsible.

          Reply
      5. CityMouse

        My uncle is an engineer at one of the big car manufacturers and this comment would make him slap his head in frustration. These are supposed to be backup features, not used all the time. Car companies have actually had to.remove some safety features like certain types of auto blind spot features because people totally rely on them and forget to say, look when merging and become less safe. Even in a car with auto stop, using it like this is insanely stupid and could get you killed.

        Reply
      6. AthenaC

        Yeah that was my reaction – how exactly does one “forget” that the car one is driving doesn’t do a thing that 99% of cars don’t do?

        Reply
        1. MegaMoose, Esq.

          I’m guessing if you spend 99% of your time driving a certain car, you get used to its features even if they’re unusual. My husband and I lease and I haven’t driven any car but my own in years. But that doesn’t even seem to be the case here, as the coworker is clearly regularly driving the company cars.

          Reply
          1. Infinity anon

            She really shouldn’t be driving the company car. She has made it clear that she cannot safely drive unless it has all the newest safety features (not because of the crash but because of her response to the crash). If the company is not going to give her a car with those features, she shouldn’t be driving.

            Reply
          2. CityMouse

            The thing is, there is nothing new about differences between cars. As long as cars have existed there have been differences in braking distance, acceleration response, and turning radius. It has never been a valid excuse for causing an accident.

            Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Thank you! My partner’s car has much more sensitive brakes than mine, and every time I drive it I throw myself forward at least once before I remember how delicate I have to be with that pedal. My mom’s car can’t turn worth a damn so if I need to make a U-turn I either need to swing super wide or make sure I have time and space to make it a 3-point turn if need be. THESE ARE NOT NEW ISSUES. No two cars drive exactly the same, unless they’re identical make, model, trim, and both brand new with 0 miles on them. As soon as they start being driven by people, they develop quirks based on how they’re driven, and you HAVE to be able to adjust to that. If you can’t adjust to driving different vehicles, then you need to never drive anything but your primary vehicle.

              Reply
          3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

            But she drives this car for work routinely. That is the heart of the OPs problem. This unsafe driver is the only one authorized to drive in the office and their job requires frequent off-site meetings

            Reply
        2. AndersonDarling

          I know! She really said, “I can drive a regular car, I can only drive cars that have brake assist.” And the company is still saying she will continue driving a car that she has proven she cannot operate.
          If she injured an employee while using a trash compactor, welder, or any other kind of machinery, I’m pretty sure they would have forbid her from using it until there was retraining.

          Reply
      7. MashaKasha

        Yikes indeed! Back in the 90s, my husband’s car was totaled on his way to work because of a major accident that involved multiple vehicles on both sides of a freeway, fatalities, an overturned truck and the freeway closed in both directions for several hours… which started with this exact thing: an absent-minded driver driving into an 18-wheeler truck. The truck lost control and crashed into the median, broke it, and sent large pieces of concrete flying all over the road, which was how my husband’s car was totaled. He was driving on the other side of the freeway when all of a sudden a giant chunk of concrete flew into his car. A foot closer and he could’ve been injured or killed. How can one possibly “minimize” something like this? It is a dead serious matter. Why is she still authorized to drive?

        Reply
      8. Sara

        I can’t imagine what speeds she was travelling at if she didn’t attempt to stop on cruise control. They’re very lucky that a broken arm is all that happened.

        Reply
      9. MCMonkeyBean

        Yeah, while I can understand how that would happen (I actually just got a car with radar cruise control a few months ago and think regularly about how dangerous it could be to become too dependent on it!) that’s definitely something that falls into the category of explanation, NOT excuse. That does not remotely excuse it and in fact sounds like exactly the type of thing that would be very likely to happen again! I’m shocked the company would not only allow her to continue driving, but force people to ride with her who have stated they don’t feel safe.

        When I worked one summer at a place that required us to drive to locations as a time, any moving violation prohibited you from being allowed to drive. I got into an accident (on my own time, not during work) and was not able to drive my team for the rest of the summer.

        I will say though I am surprised and confused at someone being *arrested* for an accident. Is that common? I thought you just get a ticket (unless you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol).

        Reply
        1. Jessie the First (or second)

          There is a level of bad driving that warrants an arrest for driving to endanger/reckless driving (what it’s called would vary by state) and that is a crime. Accidents caused by regular old mistakes are tickets. Accidents caused by egregious behavior (DUI, drag-racing, driving to endanger, etc) can lead to an arrest.

          Which says a *lot* about how she was driving, and makes it even more insane that the company is still letting her drive.

          Reply
          1. Sal

            This. In NY, it could potentially lead to an arrest pursuant to VTL 1212, reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor.

            Reply
        2. Mine Own Telemachus

          A few months ago, I ran into the back of a school bus on the freeway and totaled my car (I was checking behind me to change lanes, the bus braked, and I smacked into it going about 30 in slowed traffic). I got ticketed for “duty to drive with due care” by the responding officer, even though everyone (including myself) walked away from the accident with nothing more than some whiplash). So I can see it being absolutely reasonable to levy heavier charges on someone who made zero attempt to brake and caused injuries.

          Frankly, that driver in the OP is incredibly lucky to have walked away. I’ve seen the results of running into the back of an 18-wheeler, and the car is definitely not the winner in those cases. Hell, the fact that she walked away and her passenger was injured makes me wonder if she did attempt a last second swerve out of the way, which would have put her passenger in more danger. There’s not really a way for a car to rear-end a semi head on and NOT have the driver injured in some way, especially at highway speeds.

          Reply
      10. aebhel

        Same, good grief. That’s not like ‘I was pulled over for speeding because I spaced out while I had cruise control engaged’; how do you forget to brake??

        Reply
      11. Hedgehog

        Yes! This blaming it on the lack of safety features honestly concerns me more than anything else about it. It suggests a strong likelihood of it happening again. I can’t even begin to understand why the company would actually PREFER to have this person drive rather than other employees.

        Reply
      12. Jadelyn

        Yes, that’s what kept jumping out at me – this wasn’t a case of “Traffic suddenly came to a screeching halt and I braked as hard as I could but couldn’t quite stop in time,” this was “Wait, you mean *I’m* in control of the car and have to actually pay attention and drive beyond just steering?” That’s a shockingly cavalier attitude to take – even if we set aside the other person’s injury from the accident, even if literally the only thing it had caused was a dented bumper, that’s still horrifying to hear and I would never, ever get in a car with someone who had that kind of attitude about driving. That’s someone who is inherently unsafe behind the wheel unless she does a complete 180 in her attitude toward what “driving a car” entails, and shouldn’t be on the road at all, in any vehicle, company car or otherwise.

        Reply
      13. 2 Cents

        She’s one of those people who ends up driving a car in a lake because the GPS said to “turn left here.”

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      14. Stranger than fiction

        Right? Brake assist is fairly new for someone to just not even try stopping and completely rely on it. I wonder if she was texting or something.

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      15. Noah

        I don’t think that’s an unreasonable explanation of how the accident happened, but I don’t see how it absolves her of responsibility for what she did, either.

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      16. Mnice

        Im so sad this person has a drivers license…

        When I was taking drivers ed in about 2004 our instructor told us that none of us would “ever drive a car without anti-lock brakes” and therefore didn’t teach us to pump the brakes. Guess what could have saved the poor little Mazda I got into my first accident….

        Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I just find it mind-boggling that someone who was clearly at fault, has been found at-fault by insurance, is being charged with a crime, and caused another person significant bodily harm would be allowed back in a company car. I get the mistake and that it could happen to anyone (could it..?), but the coworker’s response and the company’s complicity indicate that she’s not taking this seriously.

      I don’t know if that’s because she’s embarrassed or in denial, but it is 100% not ok to let someone who is entirely at fault for totalling a car and injuring another person simply go back as if nothing happened. No safety test drive? No temporary suspension? No request from the insurance company for a short-term hold? And not authorizing anyone else to drive? Why? Seriously, this makes no sense to me from a risk-management or business perspective.

      Reply
      1. Working Hypothesis

        Actually, it couldn’t happen to anyone, because most people use the auto-stop devices the way they’re INTENDED to be used: as backup plans, failsafes to prevent catastrophe if you are momentarily distracted. Not as excuses to ignore the other cars on the road and leave everything to the machine.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          This sort of thinking is dangerous because outside of an actual investigation this is just speculation. I see this not to silence you, but to point out that if the company is going to have a meaningful safety policy that actually protects employees then they need hard data rather than just stopping at the first or most obvious “common sense” solution they come across. There could be other factors going on that could still be putting the rest of the employees at risk.

          Reply
          1. DArcy

            An internal safety investigation is certainly called for, but immediately revoking Jane’s authorization to drive company cars is also absolutely called for. Jane is clearly a grossly negligent and unsafe vehicle operator; the point of investigating would be be to ensure that company policies and procedures are updated to ensure that the next driver is not another Jane.

            Reply
            1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

              I don’t disagree that she shouldn’t be driving, I’m just really concerned about everyone rushing in to say how stupid/negligent/etc Jane is because such outrage is trivial and completely ignores the lack of a larger safety culture. That’s the real problem people need to be focusing on, not how they’re much smarter and much better drivers than Jane it.

              That’s very likely true, but that’s not good enough.

              Reply
          2. fposte

            I don’t think a company is really going to do that kind of investigation, though. Accidents in company cars aren’t uncommon, and most companies are going to go for the proximal cause.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              Such an investigation would only take a few hours, and the car wwas totaled. I can’t think of many companies that would just ignore the loss of a 20-40k piece of equipment without at least asking why.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                I think you’re talking about what they should do, though. The places I’ve worked wouldn’t do a study, because the proximate cause is clear and there’s a cop report to support it; they’d just ban her from driving.

                Reply
        2. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

          I think PCBH meant an accident could happen to anyone; at least, that’s how I took it.

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Yes—thanks! I meant anyone could have an accident. The “(could it…?)” referred to whether this specific method of crashing could happen to anyone (I think the odds of it happening to “anyone” are pretty low, but there’s a non-zero possibility that even responsible drivers could mess up).

            I suspect she was relying on the cruise function MegaMoose described, not the emergency/anti-collision braking function, but it doesn’t matter that much from an advice-to-OP standpoint (I think it would affect advice to the employer or a manager).

            Regardless of how an accident occurred, when the damage is this extensive and the unanimous conclusion is that it’s one person’s fault, it defies logic and common sense to (1) allow them to keep driving; (2) brush off how bad it was, and (3) restrict the people authorized to drive in order to force employees to travel with someone who drove recklessly enough to merit criminal charges to be filed.

            Reply
        3. MegaMoose, Esq.

          Assuming we’re talking about smart cruise control, it’s understandable that the driver expected the car to break automatically – it’s not just an emergency measure like auto-stop, but is designed to maintain a safe distance between you and the car in front of you on the freeway. The coworker is certainly at fault, but if you’re used to that feature, I can understand this happening – people do get distracted, and it sounds like they got complacent, too.

          Reply
          1. Jay

            This feature sounds like it is going to cause just as many accidents as it prevents. A terrible side effect of an “improvement.”

            Reply
            1. MegaMoose, Esq.

              I’m guessing there isn’t enough data to say, but my impulse is to disagree. An lot of accidents happen because of inattentiveness, so even though a feature like this might encourage some additional complacency, I tend to think that it probably still prevents a lot more accidents than it causes. The OP’s situation being somewhat unique, where it’s not that the feature failed, but the driver assumed another car had the feature when it didn’t and wasn’t paying close enough attention.

              Reply
      2. Gadfly

        I’m shocked the company’s insurance policy is allowing them to do it and not threatening to cease coverage of her.

        Reply
          1. Anna

            I wonder if the OP works at a place similar to where I work and if the vehicles are GSA vehicles. Because if they are, this would be such a huge violation.

            Reply
      3. JamieS

        I’m baffled too. If it were up to me Jane wouldn’t be authorized to operate a Tonka Truck. Also I’m going to take a firm stance that this couldn’t happen to anyone.

        Reply
      4. JessaB

        Seriously, if I were an agent of the Insurance company for the corporation, I’d flip my lid and cancel their policies if someone told me this person was still driving a company car. There’s a huge difference between driving for yourself and driving FOR the company on company time.

        Honestly unless they lied to their insurer (who had to pay out for damage to truck, company car, and passenger,) and said she was only an occasional driver, or they never let it out that they’re still letting her drive. I can’t believe their agent didn’t make it extremely clear that she couldn’t be behind the wheel again.

        This goes beyond the OP being legit worried about being in a car with her. This goes to endangering the public on behalf of the company.

        Heck I worked for a place that had its own car fleet and maintenance people with trucks. Every 6 months they pulled DMV data on all the drivers and if they even got a ticket in their OWN car, they were at minimum 3-6 months of not being allowed behind the wheel of a company vehicle and more if they were driving clients around (especially if they didn’t report it, finding stuff out in an audit was pretty much, see ya bye.) An accident in which they were completely at fault? They’d have been fired or assigned somewhere they couldn’t drive.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          “This goes beyond the OP being legit worried about being in a car with her. This goes to endangering the public on behalf of the company.”

          Yep. Indeed I’d say everyone else has a responsibility to stop this person from driving.

          Reply
        2. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

          Not that this would solve the problem entirely (since management, apparently, is nuts), but I wonder if OP, or anyone else who’s aware of the incident, could make a report to the governing agency/department that provides driver’s licenses. Or, if s/he knows in what jurisdiction the accident happened, ask the local police department if they forwarded the accident report to said governing agency/department. In my state, at least, all police accident reports are sent to the DMV electronically, and DMV can ask for a medical review of the driver (if there is belief that a medical condition caused the accident), or require the driver to come in to re-test to keep their license.

          Reply
        3. la bella vita

          So would you recommend that the OP try to anonymously report this to the employer’s insurance company? It sounds like there’s a chance they might not be aware.

          Reply
      5. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        I’m surprised the insurance company hasn’t said that she is now uncovered or raised premiums through the roof. You know that the student’s health insurance and that of the 18-wheeler are making the corporate plan pay since their driver was at fault. Or maybe they have and management doesn’t care?

        Reply
          1. MCMonkeyBean

            I got a speeding ticket last August and my premium only just this month went up for it. Oof, it hurt to get that bill.

            Reply
      6. Allison

        Wouldn’t getting into an accident make most people nervous about driving, even if it’s just for the first month or two after? Especially when the car was completely totaled and you were found at fault. If it were me, I might not stop driving, but I probably wouldn’t trust myself to drive others around for a while.

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      7. Fishcakes

        I’ve worked for so many idiots, and have read so many letters here from people who work for idiots, that I’m not surprised at all.

        Reply
    4. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      As someone with an almost laughable history of breaking my arm (honestly – I’ve broken my ulna 7 times and radius 4 times on the same arm!), I can assure the coworker that breaking an arm truly cannot be exaggerated. At my last incident (I’ve stopped calling them accidents), I broke my ulna at my wrist, my radius at the wrist, and the radial head and neck (elbow).

      It truly sounds like management doesn’t grasp that they are responsible for not only the totaled vehicle but also the workers comp and medical bills for the passenger as well as the damage to the rig. What happens if coworker rear ends a school bus next time? I don’t care what her personal car does as a special feature; if she can’t figure out you are supposed to brake as you approach another vehicle, she’s too stupid to drive. The car does that as a last minute safety feature; it’s only responding to her failure to properly brake!

      OP definitely needs to gather a few coworkers and make a statement about safety. DOL would eat up this company.

      Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          It sounds wayyyy worse than it really was. That’s why I say it is hard to exaggerate broken arms – the truth of a fracture is bad enough. I was all healed in 6-8 weeks with no need for surgery.

          Reply
        1. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

          Seriously. And only one of those fractures was someone else’s fault (sorta). I was a bystander when a bar fight broke out and a beer bottle came sailing toward my head. I ducked and threw my arms up, with the damn bottle hitting my arm instead of my head. All the other ones were because I couldn’t keep my balance during some activity or sport.

          Reply
          1. Emily

            As someone who just tripped and broke a couple of metacarpals on my left hand, I feel you! (Luckily, the healing process doesn’t sound too bad – three weeks in a cast and another few weeks before I’m back to full strength.)

            Between this and my ACL tear of a few years ago (both injured while playing ultimate frisbee), I’ve wondered if I play too aggressively, but honestly, both injuries happened in the normal course of playing and not when I was doing anything super dramatic. Maybe I’m just unlucky and/or clumsy.

            Reply
      1. Natalie

        I think the passenger was a client, not a co-worker, so they wouldn’t be covered by workers comp. Their health insurance is certainly going to be pursuing the company’s auto insurance for the costs, though, since the company (via their employee) was so clearly at fault.

        Reply
      2. PizzaDog

        Your “I’ve stopped calling them accidents” reminds me so much of Scully on Brooklyn Nine Nine calling his heart attacks “oopsies”.

        Reply
      3. Specialk9

        Man, sorry to hear you are so break-prone! Yikes.

        Nice way to keep a sense of humor though. “At my last incident (I’ve stopped calling them accidents)”

        Reply
        1. Thornus67

          I’d be willing to bet it’s covered by worker’s compensation laws and therefore not subject to a personal injury lawsuit.

          Reply
    5. Jesca

      I just can’t get over sometimes how absolutely lazy company management can be. Because? This is laziness on their part pure and simple. They don’t want to deal with the employee. Otherwise, they have nothing to lose by taking her off the road and reprimanding her. They have everything to lose if they don’t.

      Reply
    6. Jay

      Wow, the coworker and intern are lucky they weren’t decapitated. Crashing into the back of a lage truck is one of the deadliest types of accidents. I personally never drive behind them on the highway, or at least leave 10+ car lengths between us.

      Reply
      1. Specialk9

        I know someone whose teenaged child died that way – decapitated by a truck when crashing from behind.

        I def DON’T follow trucks too closely, or cut them off. (Do people really not understand that in an accident, the truck’s mass will both keep it moving, and ensure that your car will be squished under it? Don’t pop in front of a truck!)

        Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      It’s a mercy she didn’t kill someone. Next time she might. Might be a child. The optics are really very not good.

      Reply
      1. CityMouse

        Well and here is the deal: the company now has a clear, clear warning that she is an unsafe driver. If she hurts or kills someone else while driving her company car, they would likely be getting sued into the next century.

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        1. C

          Since the car was totalled, did the new/replacement car have the auto-brake feature? If it does, it probably lowers the risk of riding with the accident prone driver. (I still would not feel comfortable riding with her though!)

          Reply
          1. Liane

            Did you misread the letter? The woman acts like auto braking means she doesn’t have to watch the road. Next time it might be a problem auto brake can’t detect like the street is flooded.

            Reply
            1. CityMouse

              Those systems are also notoriously unable to deal with snow. That is the technical problem that is really holong self driving cars back.

              Reply
        1. peachie

          Ha! I once saw a car window sticker that said something like, “NO BABY ON BOARD, BUT I ALSO DON’T WANT TO DIE.” Cracked me up!

          Reply
          1. Bea

            I giggled because it’s a joke but Baby On Board is not to say “Bro! Don’t hit me, there’s a baby in here!”

            It’s so in the event of a crash paramedics know there is a baby. They were made because a baby was not known about and died due to nobody checking the back seat.

            Reply
            1. Specialk9

              I have a baby on board sticker to ask people not to tailgate. In an accident, as an adult I’ll likely walk away, but my fragile kid may have his neck snapped by the weight of his head, or something else horrible. It’s not a value metric on the relative worth of humans. Babies are not as resilient as adults, so don’t freaking tailgate!

              Reply
    2. Ama

      I would think that the company’s insurers can’t be too thrilled about it, either. In fact, I’d be surprised if the company doesn’t change its stance once they find out how much their rates are going up.

      Reply
    3. Former Cemetery Admin Clerk

      I once had to ride with three co-workers from our satellite office to the main office. I didn’t take my purse since I had my company ID on me. The drive was 20 miles through Houston traffic. The co-worker who drove was so awful that none of us wanted to sit with him for the training. After the training I got to car first, physically stood in front of the driver’s door and held out my hand for the keys. He tried to intimidate me with his height and bulk but I held my ground and my co-workers supported me. He talked smack about my driving the whole way back, but I ignored him. Unbeknownst to me, and him, one of co-workers wrote an e-mail to my boss, saying how much safer they felt on the way home. When he went to my boss to complain she called him on his reckless driving.

      Reply
  2. Ramona Flowers

    #3 To me, ‘support’ means ‘people without whom the work couldn’t get done’. It’s something integral and important.

    Reply
    1. Paul

      I agree, but I know that treating support staff as a cost sink rather than an integral part of a company is also all too common. It’s asinine because (despite my occasional complaints) we couldn’t function without IT, marketing, etc.

      Reply
    2. NoMoreMrFixit

      The best explanation for “support” I ever heard was from a former director who classified our department’s support role as meaning we did not directly contribute to the organization’s primary business but rather we enabled those who did to do their jobs. Hence “support”. Not an insult at all. HR and the janitorial staff were considered the same in their own way.

      Reply
      1. Engineer Girl

        A slightly different view: support is anyone not directly generating money for the company. Usually that’s the primary mission.

        I tend to view support as the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. The church would fall down without them.

        Reply
        1. NoMoreMrFixit

          Yes very true. I worked in post secondary education in Ontario so there was no revenue to worry about. But for private sector this is a much more accurate way to phrase it!

          Reply
        2. Ramona Flowers

          Unless you work for a non-profit, where the absolute core functions involve spending the money rather than bringing it in.

          Reply
        3. OtterB

          There’s nothing wrong with the term “support,” and they’re certainly needed, but there can be an attitude that goes along with that. Years ago when my husband worked in oil field construction, the only-half-joking term contractors used for their main office staff was “overhead slugs.” (Overhead, as in contributing to overhead rather than revenue.)

          Reply
        4. Czhorat

          Yes. In the mythical teapot company about which we always talk the groups who design, fabricate, and glaze the teapots are the core business. Those who seek out teapot customers are sales. HR, IT, and office staff are all “support”.

          Reply
          1. AndersonDarling

            This is how it works at my company. We have Division I, Division II, and the Support Division. The Support teams assist both of the other divisions and include IT, Reporting, Security, HR, Maintenance, Communications, and Administrative. Each division is unique and needs their own budget and management.
            My team is often referred to as support, and it is just an organizational category to signify our operational structure. It may be different at dysfunctional organizations, but the term doesn’t signify “lesser” here.

            Reply
        5. NotAnotherManager!

          This is how it works in the law firm world – anyone not an attorney is some sort of support person. Since the firm is 1/3 attorney and 2/3 support (subject-matter expert, secretarial, paralegal, library/research, IT, accounting/finance, etc.). There are definitely attorneys who don’t think nearly as much of the support functions as they should, but there are also many who are fully cognizant of the fact that they would not get their work done without the support people and are appreciative and kind.

          The other thing with support functions is that, when they are going WELL, you almost shouldn’t notice that they are there. No one calls the Help Desk to tell them their computer is working perfectly, right? :) It’s easier to take them for granted because it’s only when things go sideways that they are noticed.

          Reply
        6. Stranger than fiction

          That’s how it’s meant here I believe, as Alison said. Like here it’s hugely sales-driven, so it’s Sales and everything else is Support. Accounting, operations, marketing, everything that isn’t sales is support.

          Reply
      2. Friday

        This is how my department (Finance) views ourselves as well, per our CFO. We are support to the revenue-generating departments and we provide vital customer service to our coworkers in those departments. Also helps us get out the message that Finance is Approachable and Here to Help.

        Reply
    3. Chaordic One

      This letter shows me how warped I became after my time at “Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd.” There, the IT and Marketing Teams were placed on pedestals and the people who made and sold teapots were looked down upon. IT and marketing were great and everything, but the other departments didn’t get near the same amount of attention or recognition.

      Reply
      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

        I’m sorry for your time at Dysfunctional Teapots, Ltd., but this is actually kind of funny to me. What did they think marketing was going to market without the actual product getting made, and made well?

        Reply
        1. Saturnalia

          It’s marketings job to sell the thing and if they sell it as doing x and having function y, then it’s product’s fault for not building it right. But don’t give them any resources to build it like that – we need those resources for this new campaign!

          I worked at a company like that too.

          Reply
          1. Chaordic One

            Saturnalia gets it. Everybody else (outside of IT and Marketing) was horribly overworked and burnt out keeping up with all of the extra orders that resulted from the successful marketing campaign. But there wasn’t any money to hire any more warm bodies, so instead they would be shamed for not doing a good job. The company has a high rate of turnover, but it seems to be part of their operating model.

            Reply
      2. Anon Today

        In another lifetime, I worked at a newspaper. The advertising sales team was the Be All and End All, the gods of the office. And I completely understood that we couldn’t operate a newspaper without advertising revenue. Meanwhile, we lowly reporters who actually wrote the stories were overlooked, despite its being a NEWSpaper and the fact most people buy the paper for the news, not the ads.

        Reply
        1. TheFigureItOutDepartment

          OP HERE! Thank you for all of your comments. It makes me feel better that “support” is a much more standard term for this work than I realized. At previous companies, this was always used to describe administrative staff. I can see one thing that I should clarify after reading these examples – We don’t make teapots. We don’t make anything. Our core business is management, so our levels of importance are much more fluid. We can’t manage anything without functional computers, we don’t have any customers without marketing, etc. We just happen to need a lot more managers than departmental staff – which creates some weird dynamics. I will focus less on the word and more on overall respect for everyone’s contributions!

          Reply
  3. No Name Poster

    No. 4, I am so sorry! Just leave and be happy to be rid of these people.

    Do something nice for yourself on your last day!

    Reply
  4. Green Tea Pot

    No. 4, I am so sorry! Just leave and be happy to be rid of these people.

    Do something nice for yourself on your last day!

    Reply
    1. On Fire

      Yes, that stinks that your manager is being so grinchy, but on the bright side, you’re escaping! If you’re especially close to any of your coworkers, you might have lunch with a couple of them on your last day.

      When you walk out the door for the last time, go get yourself a cupcake or your favorite forbidden treat and indulge. Congrats and good luck with the new job!

      Reply
  5. Really

    #1 – I’ve been waiting for this type of accident to occur. That someone expected the car to truly drive itself. The issue is that Jane is not paying any attention all. I would also refuse to ride with her. I would like to know what the company policy is regarding who gets authorized to drive company car. It seems t her may need to be more than they currently have.

    Reply
    1. Salamander

      I’m surprised that the company’s insurance company hasn’t forbidden her to drive the company car…I mean, the liability is amazing.

      Reply
      1. Magenta Sky

        They’ll just raise the premiums until the company lets her go. No matter how high they have to raise them to achieve that.

        They are an insurance company, after all.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          This isn’t my area of expertise (we don’t have work vehicles here) but my understanding is that corporate auto insurance is much stricter about actually kicking people off the policy. Companies are not super cost-sensitive when it comes to insurance rates, so just raising the rates probably doesn’t have a strong enough affect for the insurance company’s taste.

          Reply
      2. Arlie Ermy

        I agree with both Really and Salamander. I’ve worried that people with those automatic-safety kinds of things would cause accidents, and this story tells me why. She decided that her car would do the slowing/stopping, so she didn’t need to do it herself. The second half of that sentence is what caused the accident!

        And the company has left themselves open to some hefty lawsuits when Jane rear-ends somebody else – which she will. (Since she didn’t accept that it was her fault, she probably will still expect the car she’s driving to stop for her.) “Oh, look, she totaled a company car before, in exactly the same way, with the same excuse! And someone was injured, and both insurance companies and the police said it was her fault! And the company has deep pockets! Go for it!”

        … I wonder how much she pays for insurance now… (add grinning emoji here)

        Reply
    2. WriterLady

      I honestly don’t understand that attitude (of LW’s coworker, not you!). The fact is, you’re still behind the wheel of a car. Even if the car can dress in drag and sing the hula, things can break, weather conditions can make things dangerous, other drivers can come out of nowhere. You have to be alert! This basically shows the coworker is certainly not the safe person to be driving, and the accident emphasises that. Management needs to step up.

      Reply
    3. MK

      Frankly, I am not sure I even believe this. It’s possible she just wasn’t paying attention and, after the fact, came up with this excuse about why she wasn’t paying attention.

      Reply
      1. Librarian of the North

        I totally believe that her excuse could be true. For example, my car has a back-up cam and beeps when it feels I’m driving too close to something. My Husband’s car does not. Whenever I drive his car I have moments of “weird, why isn’t the car beeping” as I park. I don’t entirely rely on these features so I’m not a danger to society, but I can see that there are people that do and thus are.

        Reply
        1. I stilll have a fax machine

          If you cannot learn to adapt to two different vehicles you need t stop driving one of the vehicles. PERIOD. END OF DISCUSSION.

          Reply
        2. CityMouse

          And if you did cause an accident I guess your reaction would be more “wow, wake up call” instead of “this is an exaggerated witch hunt”.

          Reply
        3. Purplesaurus

          My husband drives a smart car and while there’s not a feature issue for me, it takes a bit to adjust my spacial perception of how big it isn’t. Oddly, I find it more difficult to back up in than my mid-sized sedan.

          Reply
          1. Saturnalia

            The easiest time I have in reverse is in large pickup trucks. Can’t parallel park anything else lol.

            Reply
          2. only acting normal

            I knew a coach driver who could manoeuvre that coach in some pretty tight spots but admitted he couldn’t reverse park his wife’s Ford Fiesta. :)

            Reply
          3. I stilll have a fax machine

            A larger wheelbase makes it easier to back up. It is easy to oversteer or understeer when you’re in a small car.

            Reply
    4. Mike C.

      We (nor anyone else) knows what the issue actually is because no one has investigated it. To simply stop at a throwaway comment about could ignore other important factors that could endanger other employees. If nothing else, we should understand that the danger from Jane’s comments isn’t only that she can’t transition well between the two different systems, but that she (and likely other employees) aren’t thinking about safety when they are driving for hours at a time.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        In other words, safety improvements need to be made based on verifiable data rather than just shooting from the hip. In every incident there is almost always more than one cause.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          Safety improvements, yes. I agree that digging in is important. But “Jane shouldn’t be driving company cars for now” follows from almost any possible interpretation of these events. Her own words make it _strongly_ desirable that she cut that out, but if she was simply covering for distraction or not paying attention, it would _still_ be a conclusion that she should not be driving right now.

          I don’t think people are saying “all safety issues are fixed if Jane doesn’t drive” but rather “based on what happened, and made even more strong by her words, Jane should not be driving company cars – whatever else may be needed, Jane driving is clearly Not Safe at this time”.

          Reply
          1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

            Ok, I was afraid of this. First off, of course Jane shouldn’t be driving. But my emphasis on actually finding all the causes and making sure there is a safety culture in place is not to take blame away from Jane but to ensure that the response is preventative of future issues.

            Everyone jumping in here to talk about Jane being a terrible driver but ignoring that lack of managerial response is missing the forest for the trees.

            Reply
            1. Kyrielle

              And when you make it a top-level comment, I absolutely agree with you. Frankly, the LW’s workplace terrifies me – they have what seems to be the opposite of a safety culture.

              In the replies it seemed to me like you were saying they needed to gather data to see what the root causes were, before they took corrective measures. (I don’t think, based on what you’ve said since, that that was your intent! Just how I mis-read it.)

              I think they should pull Jane’s driving authorization now, do the analysis and put other procedures/safety culture efforts in place. (I’d add “and restore Jane’s driving authorization if that now makes sense” but I really can’t bend my brain far enough to think of a scenario where that is reasonable.)

              Reply
      2. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

        I thought it was investigated (by police and insurance company), and that she was found at fault…Did I miss something?

        Reply
        1. Mike C. (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

          The police and insurance companies aren’t looking for root causes here. If I worked there, I would be interested in looking for additional proximate causes to the accident in an effort to craft policies that prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

          Reply
          1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

            Gotcha, I just read the additional information provided above. I understand what you’re saying now.

            Reply
        2. fposte

          I think Mike, who comes out of a much bigger accident-prevention culture, is talking not just about who the cops ticketed but what forces were in play. So pragmatically and for the purposes of the OP’s question, I’m with you, but for macro discussion of accidents I’m with Mike. Otherwise safety improvements don’t happen.

          Reply
        3. Jaybeetee

          The comments above are thinking more from a macro standpoint, and also from the standpoint that if one person can screw something up, other people could conceivably screw it up the same way. If you watch shows about air crashes or other major disasters, even when the crash is caused by pilot error, the investigation goes deeper into *how* the pilot could make such an error (i.e. toxic work culture, poor training, reflexive thinking, or as in this case, “spent a ton of time on one machine and suddenly switched to another and got mixed up”), and how said error could be avoided in the future. Often, technology and training are then adjusted to account more for human nature – just writing off the one person as an idiot that shouldn’t be flying/driving/in control is asking for someone else to come along and do the same thing.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            This is exactly where I’m coming from. Outside of “Jane shouldn’t be driving, wtf”, I’m thinking about things like, “if employees are driving for hours at a time, how long is their workday?”, “Is fatigue an issue here?”, “Have there been any near misses in the past?”, “Do employees traveling together take shifts driving?”, “Are the vehicles kept in good working order?”, “Are employees expected to answer the phone or listen in on meetings from the road?”, stuff like that. Such an investigation shouldn’t take more than a few hours.

            Ultimately, it’s the fact that management isn’t doing a thing that is really setting off alarms. If they had a few meetings and some open discussions, I would feel a whole lot better about the situation.

            Reply
    5. Bryce

      Relying on the proximity sensor to handle slowing traffic is like relying on the bumper instead of brakes.

      Reply
    6. SunshineOH

      I find it very hard to believe that a functioning adult actually believes that the car is at fault. She’s just not willing to accept responsibility for hurting someone and is shifting blame.

      Reply
    7. Noah

      “That someone expected the car to truly drive itself.”

      You seem to be suggesting that the problem is you can’t trust self-driving cars to drive themselves. That’s not true; we can. The problem here is that she is used to a car with self-driving features and this one didn’t have them.

      Reply
  6. Helen

    Re: #1 I feel terrible for the student. She could have been hurt worse or possibly killed due to the driving coworker’s carelessness. The driving co-worker could have been hurt or killed too. Then, instead of apologizing profusely and being mortified, the driving coworker doubles down and accuses the student of exaggerating a broken bone and calls her charges a witch hunt. And to top it all off, management doesn’t do anything, allows the driving coworker to keep driving and doesn’t discipline her at all. No wonder the student didn’t come back. I wonder if management made a big show of protecting the coworker and telling the student she was wrong for being upset. Even if it was more subtle I don’t blame the student for leaving at all. I just hope her arm heals properly and the job was not part of her school credit which could cause trouble for her academically since she left it. What a sucky situation for the student and for the LW and everyone else. I hope it gets resolved in your favor LW, and that your management wakes up soon and realizes what a mistake they made.

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      Not just school credit for the thing she was doing. I got rear ended by a young entitled person, and it sprung the frame of my car and pretty much killed the tailgate (I had a mid station wagon.) She was all screaming and crying how awful it was and her father this and that. Which is why I said entitled. I was not just out waiting for insurance to fix my car and get me a rental. I was in university and it was near finals and I had all the back and neck soft tissue damage you get when inertia shoves you around. I was stopped at a stop sign, I guess she didn’t see.

      It effected my grades, it effected my ability to get around between classes. I had to take incompletes on a couple of things (ably assisted by the counsellors office, because I had medical paperwork,) but geez. The cost of making up those credits in time and money and effort? Pushed my graduation back by a semester. So if this student was still in classes it’s more than just a potential work study, or practicum credit. Especially if it’s their dominant taking notes hand. And that can be hard to put a value on if that student gets a lawyer and decides to sue for incidental damages

      Reply
      1. Bryce

        I got rear-ended once when I stopped for a yellow light and the guy behind me didn’t. Thankfully nobody was hurt and his insurance paid for everything and all that, but it’s been something like five years and I still need to fight anxiety at traffic lights, particularly in that area. The stress and psychological impact (no pun intended) isn’t to be ignored.

        Reply
        1. CityMouse

          I was a passenger once in a rear ending and even though no one was hurt apart from a wicked seatbelt bruise, it tuneed me into a stammering mess. That poor student must have had a horrible time.

          Reply
        2. Marillenbaum

          When I was in college and working, I got third-degree whiplash from being rear-ended at a stoplight. It wrecked my mom’s car (which I was using), and I had to go to a chiropractor for over a week of daily sessions–even now, I still get neck, wrist, and ankle pain on my right side.

          Side note: the only good thing about the whole situation was that I was at work at the time–as the courier for a law firm! My mom was a paralegal there, and the staff were so helpful–how to fill out insurance paperwork, workers’ comp (since I was on the clock at the time), recommendations for the chiropractors they worked with on PI cases, etc.

          Reply
        3. You're Not My Supervisor

          Yeah, I still brace myself for impact at intersections sometimes after being in a bad accident years ago. That stuff can stick with you

          Reply
        4. Elizabeth West

          This is true. In 2013, on my birthday, I was turning left at a T-intersection out of my neighborhood when someone failed to stop at the red light and smashed up the back end of my poor little car. He was watching the fire truck that had just turned right and didn’t see the light change. Thank the Universe the guy had good insurance; I was not out any money and now you can’t tell anything ever happened to my car.

          But it was months before I could make that turn again without having major anxiety (I have to go that way nearly every day). I still have a twinge when I see cars approaching and I wonder if they’re actually going to stop.

          Reply
        5. Been There, Done That

          Tu parles, Charles. I live in an area where driving is very aggressive. Traffic light turned yellow? Hit the gas! I’ve been rear-ended more than once at traffic lights over the years, and now when I slow down for a yellow light, I get a scary moment checking the rearview for some SUV or high-performance rocket coming up my back bumper.

          Reply
    2. CityMouse

      Surely the company or their insurance must have had to pay for the student’s medical treatment. If they haven’t they should expect to get sued or have a claim made. How that is not a wakeup call for management I do not know. Their premiums at least could skyrocket because of Jane.

      Reply
    3. Emi.

      Yeah, but was it a *compound* fracture? If you don’t have bone splinters sticking out of your skin, like honestly just throw some dirt on it and quit whining.

      This coworker is absurd.

      Reply
  7. Biff

    I just want to point out that if someone says you MUST drive with your coworker, it’s perfectly valid to tell them no. You don’t have to endanger yourself. They can explain it to the DOL.

    Reply
    1. DaisyGrrl

      ^^^This. Most jurisdictions provide a right to refuse unsafe work. If your company is not taking your concerns seriously, contact your local Department of Labor or OSH for information on your local laws.

      Reply
    2. la bella vita

      I’m imagining the worst case scenario – OP refuses, gets fired, and then the company tries to fight an unemployment claim. I can see all the investigations getting triggered if the OP explained what happened to the DOL.

      Reply
    3. Kathenus

      Agreed, and also strongly would recommend this conversation being conducted by email so that there’s a written record of why you refused, and if they also respond by email management’s response.

      Reply
  8. Toph

    OP4, to me I think it’s only that they established a pattern of going-away-to-dos for others and not for you that it’s crappy. If it’s been done for literally every other departing, but exempt, employee and they’re not for you, that’s crummy. On the other hand, if it were only maybe a couple of people who had maybe super long tenure and not the majority of departing people, then it’s annoying but, to me, less of a big deal. I didn’t fully understand the bit about students graduating, so I’m not commenting on that.
    Anecdotally, nowhere I’ve worked has done going away anything for departing employees, not officially, and not during work hours. Usually the employee herself tells people – meeting for happy hour or dinner or drinks or something at place of her choice, after work on the day of last day. And usually a bunch of staff go for the sendoff. But that’s a purely social thing, with the depart-er inviting people to join. Not any kind of official company sponsored or company organized event. So this whole concept is outside my frame of reference.

    Reply
    1. Cautionary tail

      Toph, I’ve had similar experiences with no parties for departing employees. I think the last one on company time that I went to was in the 1980s.

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        My company had semi-official going away parties for a while, then management decided we couldn’t have them any more because “it seemed like we were happy that so-and-so was leaving”. The real reason was that they didn’t want to advertise within the company how many people were quitting.
        So we had un-official going away parties.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth West

        I had one in the late 1990s at a job–they did a potluck for everyone who was leaving voluntarily. That’s the only time I’ve ever had one for me. At OldExjob, they did a cake/going away thing for a retiring employee.

        Reply
    2. Colette

      Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s been a lunch (using lunch time plus work time) where everyone pays their own way. Usually it’s for everyone. And if the OP could go to lunches for other people, there’s no sensible reason why they couldn’t have a lunch for her.

      Reply
      1. Bagpuss

        Yes, this is how it works where I am. There will usually be a lunch, everyone pays their own way, although sometimes the leaver’s lunch may be paid for by their manager, and we as management turn a blind eye to the fact that everyone ends up taking an extra long lunch break.
        I’m in the UK so we don’t have the exempt / non exempt distinction, but i’s the same whether the person is one who is paid by the hour or on a fixed salary.

        Reply
      2. Jennifer M.

        Your last sentence is key! It’s okay for her to spend time that isn’t work-work attending parties, but it isn’t okay for her to be the honoree.

        Reply
    3. BenAdminGeek

      Seems like your soon-to-be-former boss is taking his frustrations about you leaving out on your party. Which stinks, but at least lets you have a cleaner emotional break from the place. Good luck in your new role!

      Reply
  9. Helen

    Re: #2 I have taken notes at every job interview I have ever had (besides the ones I had in high school for part-time fast food place jobs). No one has ever said anything and I have had plenty of success with interviews. As Alison says, the key is to still make eye contact / be personable instead of staring down your pad of paper and appearing not to be interested in the interviewer(s). As long as you don’t do that you will be fine, and if any employer says anything negative about taking notes you probably don’t want to work there. Good luck with your interviews!

    (As an aside, some places may require you to leave your notes behind and not allow you to take them home with you for security or confidentiality reasons. I had this once when I interviewed for a government job relating to finance for security and defense equipment. I was still allowed to take notes, I just had to leave them behind. Some places may ask this and it is reasonable in most circumstances).

    Reply
      1. xyz

        I’ve had interview questions that are like “So your boss is in a meeting, and person 1 rings up with this urgent request, and then her husband rings with a crisis at home, and then her boss calls to say he needs to see her immediately, and then the Pope calls to invite her to the Vatican but needs a response in the next 5 minutes, what do you do?” If I don’t take notes, I’m probably going to end up answering something like “so, her husband, the Pope, is arranging a vacation to the Vatican for them, and…”

        Reply
        1. Kitten

          Oh, XYZ, I would love to interview you and ask about your boss’s husband the Pope and their holiday plans, that was beautiful!

          I can’t help feeling like making notes around those questions would be a point in your favour at interview though. Certainly, when I was interviewing new analysts and gave them problems to solve, I was more impressed with the one who took time to get the problem sorted in their heads before working out how to answer it.

          Reply
        2. Stranger than fiction

          Oh I am so with you! If someone spews out four things to me, they’re lucky if I remember 2-3. The faster they talk, the worse.
          I too take notes at interviews but they’re not usually super detailed (because of everything Alison mentioned) but just enough to jog ny memory.

          Reply
      2. Mike C.

        So in functional interviews, I found it was useful to write down questions as they were being asked so I was sure to answer all the different parts of the question. Those notes get turned in because the interviewer wants to keep the questions secret. Then for all the other stuff, I start a new sheet of paper and take that with me.

        Reply
    1. Chocolate Teapot

      I have found that the older I get, the fewer notes I take. Certainly as a fresh graduate, still used to taking notes at lectures, it is not the same technique as writing a few things down when attending an interview. I will usually take a copy of the job description with me, and might make notes on it.

      Reply
    2. OP #2

      I work in agriculture and generally I doubt they would make me leave my notes so that’s good! Writing things down, even if I can’t access them later does help them stick a little better though, which is why I try and take notes as much as possible.

      One of my biggest issues is misremembering details, which is why I really need to take notes. One example is that I was driving and the coworker riding with me was using his phone as GPS since he knew where we were going. The GPS said what turn to make 2 miles ahead and I heard it but after a minute I forgot which direction it said. The info came in and went right back out of my head. I thought it was right but it turns out it was left. Normally I’m in charge of the GPS and can check.

      I have alarms, to do lists and other reminders that keep me on track with tasks, it’s just in person conversations are hard. I have excellent visual and physical memories but words are hard to remember.

      Thank you!

      Reply
      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

        OP, I’ve definitely taken notes in interviews! I didn’t even realize that was even potentially something not to do. Typically, while I’m getting settled at the beginning, I take out a notebook, open to a blank page, and just say “Is it ok if I plan to write some things down while we talk?” Usually, I’ve found that interviewers are more impressed than anything!

        Reply
        1. K.

          I don’t even ask, to be honest. I take notes in interviews as a matter of course and no one has ever said anything to me about it. It helps me tremendously – often, at the end of the interview when I’m asked if I have any questions, the questions I ask come from things I’ve jotted down during the course of the conversation.

          Reply
        2. Happy Lurker

          I generally come in with a list of questions. Potentially talking points, etc.
          I am a lot like OP. I have alarms for everything and an awesome leather bound reporters notebook that is always in my bag. I still use a physical notebook daytimer too. I love my smartphone, but sometimes the notifications get a little too much.

          Reply
      2. Elemeno P.

        I have the same issue! Details fly right out as soon as I hear them. I’ve never had any issues taking notes in interviews, and it’s also handy for me to write down my questions ahead of time so I don’t have to come up with some on the spot.

        Reply
      3. Lai

        Like someone else mentioned, I think it’s nice to say something at the beginning like “if you don’t mind, I’m going to take a few notes”, just because I do think it’s a little unusual.

        Also, be sure you pay attention to the rhythm of the interview and think about the experience of your interviewers. I was once on a hiring committee where the candidate would take a good 30 seconds after every question to finish writing her notes and thinking about her response, while we all sat there looking at her. That was way too long. A few extra seconds, sure, but seriously like no more than 5.

        Reply
      4. Snazzy Hat

        In my second interview, my now-manager actually brought up to the other interviewers that I likely wouldn’t have a problem with learning new procedures because I’m extensive with my note-taking. She was glad I was taking notes during the interviews!

        Reply
  10. Mike C.

    OP1:

    You put your foot down and demand that your safety and the safety of your coworkers is put in front of every other priority at work. You and your coworkers should expect nothing less than to leave work in the same condition you walked in and you need to make your management understand that as well. That they seem to pretend nothing is wrong is a huge problem and you need to demand that they address what happened, address why anyone who was arrested is still allowed to drive and what their plan is to keep you and coworkers safe on the job. It’s not just Jane’s attitude that is worrisome, it’s your manager’s attitude in tolerating her bullsh!t excuses and not enforcing culture where safety is discussed openly and preemptively.

    With sincere respect to AaM here, I think your answer is way too passive and incomplete here. I know we have our philosophical differences with regards to professional communications, but when we’re talking about major injuries with heavy machinery you need to take a hard and fast line or people die. Safety in the workplace starts from the top. That means management should have already discussed this situation with employees, that policies would be made and enforced to deal with those who seriously endanger themselves, others and cause massive amounts of damage to company property. Was there even an internal investigation performed to see what the root causes were to Jane’s incident? Was she under the influence? Was she distracted? Sick? Fatigued? Something else? Was the car in proper working order and well maintained? Those findings lead to effective ways to keep people safe – if you aren’t doing this, how can you prevent the problem from happening again? What if someone is maimed or killed this time around?

    There was a massive loss of property, an arrest, a serious injury and the likely risk of much worse. OP you need to demand a transparent and comprehensive response to this for your own safety and the safety of those you work with.

    Reply
    1. TL -

      Yes. I would refuse to get in the car with her at all. Accidents happen but “I didn’t break because my car should do it for me” is not acceptable and I should just straight up refuse.

      Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            No — I put the table flipping sign under moderation so I can remove it because it’s making it hard to skim comments. Would you mind removing it from your user name?

            Reply
            1. NotAnotherManager!

              (Until just now, I didn’t know what that was supposed to be. To be fair, I also suck at those Magic Eye posters.)

              Reply
    2. JessaB

      A lot of companies I’ve worked for where company cars, heavy equipment or machinery was in use had an absolute we do a drug/booze test if you have an accident with this stuff. It’s a liability issue. It’s bad if some person in a corner office is soused, but if that person is down on the factory floor? Heck no. In fact in at least a couple of those cases their insurers required the testing.

      Reply
      1. kittymommy

        That’s how we are, if you’re driving a company vehicle (or operating machinery) and there’s an accident, your drug tested as soon as you are allowed to leave the scene. This is for everyone.

        Reply
    3. Isabelle

      Another point is that most people would be mortified and extremely apologetic if they caused someone to break their arm, but Jane is minimizing it. Just this alone says a lot about her character and I would seriously question whether I’d want her to still work there if I was her manager.

      Reply
      1. Caro in the UK

        Yes, there are almost two separate issues here. The fact that she caused the accident in the first place (which would make me not want to get in a car with her), and her behaviour since the accident (which would make me not want to work with her at all!)

        Reply
    4. AthenaC

      I do like Alison’s script of “Hard no – given that, how should we proceed?” to have the best chance at being effective.

      But OP#1 – be aware that with the way your company has handled this so far, you may need to repeat yourself a few / many times. I realize this is thinking a few steps ahead, but – hopefully there will not be employment consequences for you, and if there are, just keep in mind that risking your life isn’t worth it.

      Best of luck.

      Reply
    5. Lora

      Yes. This.

      I would think that at the very least the insurance company would have demanded such things BEFORE issuing a policy. Everywhere I’ve ever been that issued company cars had policies for what would happen if there was an accident or if you got a ticket while driving or whatever, in addition to policies for rental cars. I got rear-ended (gently, thank goodness – couple of scratches on the bumper, nothing worse and nobody hurt) in a rental car on a business trip and I filed the police report, called the company insurance and the finance person who handled that stuff, filled out a form and attached a copy of the police report. It was pretty straightforward.

      Reply
    6. The Real Mike C.

      Just posting to let folks know that I’m trying to respond but everything I post is suddenly going to moderation. I’m sure AaM will take care of it when she’s able but please don’t think I’m trying to ignore folks. Safety in the workplace is really, really important. Even if you do “just work in an office”.

      Reply
    7. AgreeingAnon

      I’m surprised there wasn’t a drug test. Where I’m using to working, anytime you have an on-the-job accident that results in injuries, even if you’re not the one who is injured, you’re going to be giving a cup of urine at the hospital and a lot of statements to different people. There really should have been a full-blown, internal investigation of this, and, honestly, I’d’ve fired this person after the “not my fault, the student’s lying, I forgot how to drive a car” BS started. Nope.

      Reply
    8. Alli

      Absolutely agree. I work in the manufacturing industry where safety is the highest priority because employees are around potentially risky materials/equipment everyday. If you work a typical office job, your company may not have a mature safety culture just because the perceived risk is lower. But motor vehicle accidents are usually one of the highest categories of on-the-job injuries/deaths in nearly every industry. EVERY company should have policies in place that protect anyone in a company car (or in your own car on company business). This starts with, at a bare minimum, investigation of every single accident and being selective about who is allowed to drive on company business.

      OP, your company is not putting your safety at the forefront. If your company has a safety department, I would start there. If not, bring this up with HR. If no one internally is taking this seriously, OSHA and the DOL can be contacted.

      Reply
    9. Mockingjay

      Beyond the very clear safety issue(!), what does this say about your company management in general? What other catastrophes do they permit?

      Reply
      1. JustaTech

        I’m amazed that this company either doesn’t have a policy in place about what events/actions make an employee not eligible to drive a company car, or has those policies and is ignoring them.
        Given that the dismissal of concerns is coming from management I’d wonder what else they’re sweeping under the rug.

        Reply
    10. Kathenus

      I mentioned this as a reply to another comment, but getting this discussion documented via email might be very helpful. Whether an email is sent to management clearly stating the reasons that the LW refuses to be in a vehicle with this person driving, or if the conversation happens in person an email is sent afterwards to confirm the conversation. And ideally either management will respond in writing to the email, or the LW could include their responses in the after-meeting write up if the conversation occurred in person. A written record might be very valuable to have if the situation deteriorates if the LW or others refuse to ride with this person and management pushes back.

      Reply
    11. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

      You mean Root Cause Analysis? How dare you?!? That might identify management problems, and we can’t have that! >/sarcasm<

      The lack a safety culture in most offices should be a major concern for employees and employers. I''m not sure what the answer is, maybe require everyone to work in a truly dangerous industry for a year?

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Yeah, I don’t know the answer either. What bugs me the most are typical office workers that pretend these sorts of conversations don’t apply to them, and then suffer serious repetitive strain/ergonomic injuries.

        Reply
        1. JokersandRogues

          Or the ones that leave a file cabinet drawer on a main aisle open and are shocked when someone hurts themselves or tears their clothing on the drawer that wasn’t closed properly.

          Even in an office, someone can get hurt and need to follow proper safety.

          Reply
  11. Zephyrine

    OP1: My jaw just about hit the floor as I read your letter. She just kinda stopped driving because she thought the car would do it?! YIKES. I’m glad she’s being charged, but I wish the police would suspend her license or something. Since it sounds like they didn’t, you need to have a Serious Talk with your boss. Letting her drive company vehicles is bad enough, but forcing other employees to ride with her is beyond the pale.

    OP4: Your boss sucks.

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      I hope for #1 it’s only a matter of time and going through the process and then the license is gone.

      #4, Your boss sucks.

      Reply
      1. Duck Duck Møøse

        #4, echoing : your boss sucks.

        We have three people leaving at the end of next week, including me. A going away luncheon was arranged, solely for one person, who has been here about 2.5 years – she’s good friends with the office admin. I’ve been here almost 12 years. Apparently, I’m getting bubkis. :( #notthatimbitter #yesimbitter

        Reply
        1. CMF

          At my old company, we always joked that you didn’t get anything unless you were a man. Literally, my department had two employees who were the most productive by leaps and bounds (me and another girl), but when it came time to promote someone to manager, they picked a guy.

          Every guy whose wife or girlfriend was expecting, we would have a small party to celebrate their new addition.

          No one ever celebrated any of the pregnant women. Which is certainly fine to not have office baby showers, but why were we expected to bring in diapers as a gift for our male co-workers?

          They did give me a small gift card when my baby was born…to our company…that expired in 2 weeks.

          Reply
      2. Natalie

        Sadly, if this in a fairly normative city, it takes more than one accident to lose one’s license. We often treat driving like an inalienable right instead of the rather dangerous privilege that it is.

        Reply
    2. Kate

      #1 – Same! I like Alison’s script for a hard refusal, but I would add to it that someone was seriously injured because it seems like management should be reminded of this as often as possible. A broken arm is a serious injury regardless of how much Jane tries to minimize it. I just can’t wrap my head around management who thinks, “Jane totaled a car and broke a person because she thought the car would stop itself, but yeah, it’s fine.” [Insert meme of dog sitting in a burning room]

      #4 – Your boss sucks. Good luck with your new gig! Hopefully your new boss won’t suck!

      Reply
  12. T-Rex

    #1) I wonder if there are internal politics at play which could make this conversation trickier? If the insurance company found her at fault the company’s premium must have increased, how many employers are willing to take a financial hit like that for just any employee?

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      People who are in denial that the situation is as bad as it is? Sometimes people turn ostrich when things go wrong, as it’s easier than dealing with it.

      Reply
      1. Jeanne

        I think it could fall under the same category as a thousand other things bad managers won’t deal with. “I don’t like conflict.” “It’s not really my decision.” Some variation on a theme we’ve all heard before. They could be hoping the judge will suspend her license and then no one at work has to be the one to do the hard work.

        Reply
    2. PepperVL

      It might not have increased yet. We don’t know how long ago the accident was or when the insurance renews. Any rate increase won’t be effective until the renewal after the accident has been processed, which could be up to a year or possibly a little more. (If the accident occurred close to reveal, it wouldn’t hit until the next renewal, and commercial auto policies are usually a year.)

      Reply
    3. Decimus

      I am wondering if this in an insurance company that self insures. That might explain the lack of worry about premiums. Still is absolutely ridiculous mind.

      Reply
      1. Thinking Outside the Boss

        This was my thought too. Employer is self-insured and the insurance company simply acts as a third-party administrator for claims but really isn’t insuring the risk of the accident causing employee.

        Reply
  13. KR

    1) I agree, your company is not handling this well. Biff has a good point that your company cannot force you to get in the car with someone. You’re in charge of your own safety. Make it clear to them that you would be happy to visit clients and go to meetings, but the company needs to do their part first and authorize more drivers. I think it’s important to find a way to put the onus on the employer and make it clear that they are the ones preventing business from being done.

    3) I agree that being called support is common and it usually isn’t meant to be demeaning. Think of it this way: without your support, things wouldn’t get done. If they were done, they wouldn’t be done in a cost effective, smart, efficient way like they are now with specific support departments taking care of them.

    4) I think this is a case of “Your boss is dumb and isn’t going to change.” I’m sorry. Have a great party with friends and family, perhaps, to celebrate leaving a weird workplace?

    5) That sounds annoying. Definitely worth pushing back on. Your coworker needs to either work out an arrangement with someone herself. A part of working and being an adult is finding your own way to work whether it be taking a bus, a bicycle, walking, rideshare, driving, ect. You’re not being unreasonable here. Feel free to use untrue excuses liberally – “I can’t pick up Tiana on my way to work, I have a yoga class that I attend just before work.” “Picking up Flora won’t be possible, I have to make this tank of gas last this week.” ect.

    Reply
    1. Anna Held

      #5 This is a good point. The drivers should at least be getting mileage, but really shouldn’t have to do this at all. I think it falls under the heading “What can management push off onto employees so they don’t have to be bothered”. We seem to see a lot of those letters.

      Reply
      1. Infinity anon

        As someone who can’t drive I find this situation baffling. It is my responsibility to get to work, not my coworkers responsibility. That means I can only apply to jobs where I can walk or take public transportation (or taxi or uber). I would never expect coworkers to take turns picking me up. That is really ridiculous unless it is a very short term thing (like someone can’t drive for a week or two and coworkers volunteered to help out). Even short term it should be completely voluntary.

        Reply
        1. Decima Dewey

          I don’t drive. I don’t depend on my coworkers to get me to work. That’s my responsibility. I take public transit and I’m at work on time. Now and then I grumble about the local transit agency, that’s a rare thing. And when there’s a transit strike I get up earlier and walk to work.

          Reply
        2. SarahTheEntwife

          Same here. I kind of wonder if there was an injury or emergency move or something like that, since I can’t imagine applying to a job and going “oh, hey, you need to pressure all my coworkers into driving me everywhere!”.

          Reply
  14. Goldie

    You would think the company’s liability insurance wouldn’t be able to cover her any more. Sorry to hear about the student.

    Reply
  15. Paul

    5: definitely push back. Out of curiosity, did they put this in writing? That would be nice if they did. If they push on it, but refuse to pay, that I’d take to your state’s (assuming you’re in the US) department of labor/workforce center (names vary by state). If memory serves there is at least one state that doesn’t have a state department of labor; in that case, look for your local US Department of Labor.

    Places that aggressively screw employees out of wages deserve to get smacked down.

    Reply
    1. Ego Chamber

      “Places that aggressively screw employees out of wages deserve to get smacked down.”

      Hard agree. I’m wondering if it’s food service or a similar low wage, high turnover, lack of professional experience sort of thing—mostly based on what the manager thinks they can tell people to do off the clock. This isn’t the sort of thing a functioning HR department would be okay with and when companies don’t have a functioning HR department, it becomes the responsibility of the employees to become the HR department Gotham deserves.

      Reply
      1. paul

        that was very much my thought.

        I’m generally a fan of finding non-lawsuit ways to redress wrongs for any number of reasons, not least that suing your employer can really make finding another job harder. But if the state DOL investigates (at least here) it isn’t like they publicize the name of the complainant, and it usually results in multiple people getting back wages, and your name isn’t really on the investigation front and center like it is with a lawsuit. So you don’t get as much blowback.

        Reply
      2. Purplesaurus

        I also assumed it was a similar type of job, but that makes it even more strange to me. Most of those job listings state the employee must have a reliable means of transportation, and the same type of management who expect employees to work off the clock are the same type who wouldn’t care that someone can’t get to work and fire them pretty quickly.

        Reply
        1. aebhel

          Unless they happen to like the person in question. IME, there’s often a lot of really petty, personal politics going on in places like this, and it’s not unusual for the manager to have a ‘pet’ who can get away with everything.

          Reply
    2. Lora

      Yeah, what the heck? It’s one thing to set up a carpool – a couple of my workplaces sent around sign-up sheets for carpools and vanpools that said, here are your colleagues who live within a few miles of you if you’re interested in setting up a vanpool, we will subsidize it and give you a parking spot close to the building. I used to have a deal with one of my colleagues who needed to quit his McMuffin habit – I would make him a healthy breakfast if he would drive me to work in snowy weather. But this is just a bunch of horse puckey.

      I will not rant because it’s completely tangential, but I gotta say I really like being able to take public transit to work and I wish more employers would think about location in terms of how employees and customers will even get there (i.e. provide a shuttle bus or something from the nearest transit station).

      Reply
      1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

        Lora, if you are able on the open thread today, I’d love to know more about the deal with your colleague! Are you in a really snowy area, and thus, you were able to help him kick the habit? How did that deal come about?

        Reply
  16. MommyMD

    Your coworker is a menace to you and to society. She’s lucky she didn’t kill anyone with her wanton stupidity and recklessness. Heck no would I get into a car with her.

    How the he!! do you not slam on the brakes with the rear of an 18 wheeler coming at you? Her excuse is weak. Any accident resulting in a broken bone is serious.

    Reply
    1. Shay

      Here’s the thing: trucking companies are almost always all over this kind of thing. When they are not at fault, they WILL get paid for any damage and repairs. They do not play around. (You are the first I’ve seen mention the 18-wheeler. Most are mentioning the company’s own insurance, or the individual who was a passenger, or even the state not suspending her license.) It makes me wonder if the accident is so recent the real fallout isn’t even evident yet? But just the liability of letting her drive on company time after she has already been arrested and found at fault — how is that not going to put the company out of business if she’s in another accident on company time and a jury hears this?

      Reply
      1. DDJ

        As someone who deals with insurance for one of those big trucking companies…it’s shocking to me that, after being found at fault, this individual is still able to drive the company vehicle. The kind of expense involved in these is a lot higher than people might expect. I wouldn’t be surprised if subrogation hadn’t been finalized yet, and the trucking company’s insurer will still be submitting a bill to the LW’s company’s insurance. When they see what the final bill will be, they might have some different feelings about the LW’s coworker maintaining access to company vehicles.

        And because Jane was found at fault (by insurance AND the police), that trucking company is going to be able to recover every dollar that was spent on their end. You’ve got load transfers, towing (do you know how expensive towing is for those things? It’s freaking expensive), reporting, scene reconstructions, engineering reports, appraisals, environmental cleanup (broken glass, any leaks of fluids from either vehicle that were a result of the crash). You’ve got lost time for the truck driver, lost time for the employee whose arm was broken, probably some kind of substantial worker’s comp claim.

        I’d love to hear an update on this one, after the dust has settled.

        Reply
        1. Engineer Girl

          I imagine there’s DOT type regulations involved for truck accidents. The subrogation is going to take a while.
          As stated, the fallout probably hasn’t finished.

          Reply
          1. DDJ

            Oh for sure, subrogation can take some time, but it takes a lot less time when liability isn’t in dispute. I mean, still many months, but that’s better than when liability is disputed and the claim can go on for years and years.

            Reply
  17. Jenny

    “I forgot this car wouldn’t stop automatically” – that is the most absurd excuse for causing a car accident I’ve ever heard.

    I’m appalled the company is not only allowing her to keep driving the company car, but requiring other employees to ride with her. Getting a group to push back on this together, per Allison’s response, is great advice. I would absolutely not want to ride with this person either.

    Reply
  18. DArcy

    An internal safety investigation is certainly called for, but immediately revoking Jane’s authorization to drive company cars is also absolutely called for. Jane is clearly a grossly negligent and unsafe vehicle operator; the point of investigating would be be to ensure that company policies and procedures are updated to ensure that the next driver is not another Jane.

    Reply
  19. MommyMD

    Are you using your own gas and car to pick up this coworker? I’d say no to it. Not to mention the liability of her being frequently in your car. It’s not for you to be a taxi service. Everyone is responsible for getting themselves to work. Manager can pick her up. You can possibly use the excuse that your car is not insured for any business purposes which is most likely true.

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      Plus it could be considered driving for work and you need different insurance for that. If you’re using a personal car for business regularly (not an errand here and there,) there’s different liability rules. I know a lot of people who deliver pizza for instance ignore this, but you really need to get a rider on your insurance for business use. I would not be using my car for general business without being sure I was covered.

      The place I worked for that I mentioned above? Who paid for an accident was investigated down to “was the employee already at work, or on their way.” If they were working, it was worker’s comp, and company liability. If they weren’t it was on them. It literally hung on which side of the gate the accident occurred. In this case it went in the employee’s favour, they were hit INSIDE the gate.

      Reply
        1. Christmas Carol

          I don’t have wheels. When I work a shift, my boss makes another employee clock out and come pick me up. Last week my co-worker rear ended an 18-wheeler with me in the car. She forgot her car didn’t have auto-stop and I broke my arm. Then she made fun of me and said I was exaggerating the accident……..

          Reply
            1. On Fire

              And at my next job, someone drew obscene things on the cast of my broken arm, and THAT manager thought it was hilarious.

              Reply
                1. Too embarrassed to come up with a clever name

                  Then I quit so I could attend my college graduation ceremony. I don’t know who ended up providing coverage.

  20. Anonicat

    #1 “Management says it is fine”

    The hell it is. Can we make nominations for the annual worst boss of the year poll?

    Reply
    1. JessaB

      I second that nomination. That one and the place with the intern with the cast are jumping between one and two

      Reply
    2. This Daydreamer

      Year ain’t over yet and there’s already some pretty solid competition for the title so far. I’m kinda rooting for the boss of the intern with the defiled cast so far.

      Reply
  21. namelesscommentator

    Adding #1 and #5 to the list that I want updates on.

    #5 – I’d refuse by saying that you’d need to check with your insurance company before driving for work. Or just ask how they’d like you to document that mileage…

    Reply
    1. Hornswoggler

      And how much they’re reimbursing you for that mileage. I’m in the UK where there’s a nationally accepted amount (calculated by the HMRC, our equivalent of Inland Revenue) of 45p per mile.

      Reply
  22. This Daydreamer

    OP1 – I’m really hoping the insurance company puts the kibosh on that driver even looking at the steering wheel of a company car again. I’m sure that the insurance bill is going to be a bit jarring after that little escapade. WTF does that coworker think the brake pedal is for?! Hello! Huge truck right in front of you! STOP!!! They really aren’t hard to see!

    OP4 – Dafuq? May you have awesome bosses who appreciate what you do for them from now on.

    OP5 – Look up taxi rates where you live. Bill accordingly. Having to chauffeur your coworker for free is utterly ridiculous.

    Reply
  23. Tau

    OP4: I agree with Alison, that’s crappy. At LastJob, I was one of a group of contractors, all of whom had a maximum stay of two years and often left earlier. I joked that we were the interchangeable robot army to a lot of the full-time business. We were also billing by hour. And yet – same as the full-time employees, anyone who’d been there for a reasonable amount of time got a leaving presentation, a card, and a collection. The idea of refusing to do the standard leaving thing for an actual *employee* because they’re non-exempt sucks. There’s nothing you can do, but it sucks and I’m sorry.

    (I don’t get the logic at all, either – if the boss says the reason LW can’t get a leaving do is because it’s inside work hours and she wouldn’t be working, how has she been going to all the previous leaving dos? She’s not working whether it’s her party or someone else’s.)

    Reply
  24. Malcolm Gladwell fan

    Before we pile on the Jan Driver too much (and to be clear, some piling is deserved, particularly the bit about “exaggerating” a broken arm): there is a school of thought that says too much automation reduces safety, or at least does so beyond a certain optimal level of automation. I’m more familiar with this theory in the field of commercial aviation than cars, but I suspect we’re going to hear a lot more about it in the automotive world in coming years. The gist of it is that automation allegedly reduces basic airmanship/flying skills as pilots rely on the automation.

    People who make this argument cite AF447, where the pilots failed to recover from a stall by pointing the nose of their A330 downwards; that’s a bit of a counterintuitive maneuver, but it’s the textbook response to a stall. And yet fewer and fewer pilots encounter that situation due to automation. They also cite the Asiana crash in San Francisco, where the instrument landing system (ILS) was not operational, and the pilots had difficultly making a routine manual landing in perfect weather.

    So to the extent you believe this theory, Jane Driver’s experience may be a result of human cognitive weaknesses, poor systems management, etc., and not just her own negligence. (Do I buy this theory? I guess to an extent, although I would much, much rather have too much automation than too little. Aviation has become much safer thanks to automation, and road traffic will too, once we have self-driving cars. There are too many plain bad drivers out there, and humans make mistakes that computers don’t.)

    Reply
    1. Colette

      I think this is part of it – humans are good at routine, and bad at remembering that something is different. This is why it’s hard to go somewhere at the exit after the one you turn off at to go to work, and why every summer someone leaves an infant in the car because they don’t normally do daycare drop-off.

      But the response afterwards is enough to make getting in the car with the coworker unacceptable. When you screw up, you acknowledge what you did and make amends as best you can- you don’t shrug and blame technology.

      Reply
    2. SarahKay

      Yes, I can *sort of* sympathise about why the accident happened; habit is a b1tch to overcome. But I really can’t sympathise with her *reaction* to why it happened, especially not the exaggeration comment; this is all appalling.
      And as far as the company goes, the reasonable response is surely to say “Since you’ve demonstrated you can’t safely drive a car without the auto-brake system, we won’t be letting you drive our cars any more”.
      OP1 good luck pushing back!

      Reply
    3. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      What I don’t understand is how she decided that day that the car had auto breaking. From the letter it is clear that sales calls are a routine part of the job, Jane is the only authorized driver in the area where they work, so she must be driving the corporate card all the time for 40 minutes (round trip to the closest clients) or a few hours at least once a week. Driving the corporate card is the norm, not the exception, so I find it implausible that one day she forgot that it didn’t have auto breaking, unless she was distracted by something else (e.g. phone, some sort of conflict) or under the influence.

      Reply
      1. DDJ

        I also wouldn’t be surprised if there was some other kind of distraction. Reached down to change the radio station, reached down to grab her coffee, turned to look at the coworker sitting next to her, any number of things.

        Reply
      2. Chaordic One

        I can kind of see it. I have cars with both manual and automatic transmissions. When I drive the automatic, every once in a while I will find myself reaching down to shift gears when it really isn’t necessary or moving my left foot to depress a clutch that isn’t there. It’s not exactly the same situation, but I can see how things like this happen. Of course, I haven’t caused any accidents by doing so, and if I did I would be appalled with myself.

        Reply
    4. Murphy

      What’s problematic here is not just the automation (and I agree with everything you said on that front) but her attitude towards using it. As others have said, that safety feature in the car is supposed to be a backup in case something happens and someone in front of you makes a sudden stop, cuts you off, etc.– not instead of paying attention. It wasn’t that she had no idea she was getting too close to the truck, it was that she expected the car to stop her. That kind of mode error is somewhat understandable, but her habit of using a backup safety feature as a primary control is really worrying.

      Reply
    5. Mike C.

      I would also point out that those flight issues (especially the one at SFO) are complicated by bad training and insufficient communication between members of the flight crew. There is always more than one cause to an issue.

      Reply
      1. Jaybeetee

        Even in those rare cases where the cause of a crash basically comes down to “pilot is an idiot that never should have been flying”, the investigation still has to cover how someone so incompetent that they got through all their quals, hired, and allowed to fly in the first place. Usually if you have a moron at the controls, that means there are gaps elsewhere that allowed that moron to get to the controls.

        Reply
    6. Construction Safety

      Risk Homeostasis. (Some) People will adjust their behavior and therefore acceptable level of risk, based on the number of safety devices and processes involved. They will engage in overall riskier behavior, rationalizing that the safety devices & processes will protect them from increased likelihood of injury.

      BTW, big M.G. fan as well.

      Reply
    7. GigglyPuff

      I completely see your point. AND major disclaimer here that I know nothing about flying, but aren’t these two basically different situations.
      When flying auto, isn’t it more of a passive observation while being alert to set in? It seems more monitoring and observation, while driving the car you are actively engaged in the entire process even if one thing is automated. Jane had her hands on the steering wheel, foot on the gas pedal, you’re supposed to be actively engaged in the environment around you, so you are somewhat already anticipating having to react to something.
      While the scenarios seem to overlap, I think in the basics of them it doesn’t really apply. (If you’re not already a horrible driver is not paying attention at all.)
      Again, disclaimer, no nothing about pilots or flying, just my thoughts on it.

      Reply
        1. ThursdaysGeek

          When I’m driving with cruise (and I do it ALL the time), if I’m in any traffic at all, my foot is hovering over the brake pedal, and my finger is close to the off button.

          Reply
    8. Government Worker

      I’ve seen some discussion of this as a barrier to widespread adoption of self-driving cars in the near future. There’s a mid-range of semi-automation that’s less safe than the current practice, and it will be hard to skip over that stage technologically and go straight to the kind of full automation where the driver doesn’t have to pay attention at all, ever.

      The tech situation may be changing fast enough that the full automation scenario is getting more realistic, but there are a lot of problems that still need to be addressed around things like how fully automated vehicles deal with pedestrians and cyclists and the random unknowns that crop up in the normal course of driving. In the meantime these semi-automated features increase the risk that the human driver is going to stop paying sufficient attention.

      Reply
      1. Optimistic Prime

        Yes! It’s such an interesting issue. When people ask me what kind of job you can get with a psych degree, I always point to that – because I know there are psychologist and human-computer interaction specialists studying this now at private companies. You can build all the beautiful tech you want but at some point you have to deal with the humans using it.

        Reply
  25. I stilll have a fax machine

    There was a story a while back about a guy who had his tesla on auto pilot and broadsided a tractor trailer because the car did not contrast the grey truck with the gray sky. I am going to try to find a link.

    Reply
  26. Leona

    In my country we have a legal right to refuse unsafe work. I think technically this is for different circumstances – your manager cannot make you enter an area with potential gas hazards without proper PPE, for example – but if your country has something similar, invoke it. Make it a sticking point.

    Reply
  27. Rebecca

    #1 – I’m not sure why this particular person must drive, and that’s the way it sounds in the letter. On the other hand, management can be unreasonable about the oddest things, and in this case, management is being totally unreasonable. This person needs to go back to driver’s education, take classes, or something, because she is going to kill someone or herself if she doesn’t learn to drive properly.

    If management says she has to drive, she’s the only one allowed to drive the car, whatever, it’s perfectly acceptable for the 2 or 3 of you who have to ride with her to refuse to get in the car, and if the off site meeting is so important, drive yourselves and submit a mileage reimbursement. There is no way under the sun I would ever get into a car with a driver like that unless they (1) accepted responsibility and (2) took some DOT approved safety courses and proved they knew how to operate a potentially lethal machine.

    Reply
      1. Natalie

        And arrested. Which is actually pretty damn serious if this is the US, because it is very much NOT NORMAL to get arrested because of a car accident here (DUIs excepted).

        Reply
  28. SarahKay

    OP4, you have my sympathy. Your boss is being rotten, and it’s sad that your leaving is being tainted that way. Fingers crossed for you that the new job and new boss you’re going to will be awesome!

    Reply
  29. M from NY

    OP1 In this situation you can control YOUR actions. Refuse to get in car. Refuse, resist and be loud. This is not the time for polite conversation. I’d drop a dime to insurance carrier if need be. Premium is already set to rise, the cost to company will be MUCH higher if coworker gets into another accident.

    OP4 Its your last day at work. Go to lunch with your coworkers and if it runs long so what? What is your boss going to do fire you? Sounds like a petty power play by someone upset that you’re leaving. Don’t give him so much power. Call bluff and be sure to invite higher up (or important client) & thank boss publicly at lunch for honoring your contribution.

    Reply
    1. Noobtastic

      Hehe. I like this suggestion.

      The problem is that the co-workers might get in trouble for the long lunch, but if you can get a higher-level person there, and have him say a word or two, or publicly thank boss, while the higher-level person is watching, it *becomes* “official,” whether boss likes it or not, and if anyone chides the co-workers for attending, they can go to the higher-level person, and say, “But this was official! You were there, and can witness to it!”

      Reply
  30. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    No.1 Cruise control should not be used in stop and go highway traffic. The student needs to sue for damages and out of pocket expenses since money is no object with this company. The driver needs to be re-tested and have a vision test. No one in the company should get into a car with her until they have verified that their insurance will cover them 100% in case of the next inevitable accident.

    Reply
    1. Chaordic One

      This is true!

      The only time to use cruise control is when you’re driving in rural areas where you can maintain a steady speed and even then you need to be diligent and ready to brake at any moment.

      I find that in rural areas, if I don’t pay intense attention, I will soon be driving a good 10 to 15 mph above the posted speed limit. Using cruise control in such situations helps me avoid speeding and so I wouldn’t write off its use.

      Reply
  31. Czhorat

    for OP2, I’m in a tech field and very gadget-oriented in my workflow. Whenever I’ve gone to an interview I bring a 10″ tablet with a bluetooth keyboard and type up notes in MS OneNote. Nobody has ever looked askance at me for doing this, and I’ve sometimes been able to leverage it into a discussion of work processes and organization in general (because I take notes electronically, I have a searchable database of every meeting I’ve ever attended, divided by project. When someone is added to a project team or if they replace me on a project team I can easily share or transfer these notes to them).

    If you take notes you show yourself to be attentive, engaged, and to care about the interview. Just listen to the other advice here, look up as much as you can, maintain eye-contact, etc. ((that’s the nice thing about electronic notes — I can touch-type so it’s possible to record without breaking eye-contact as much))

    Reply
  32. Menacia

    #1 is really timely for me as we just went over driving safety in my company yesterday. I brought up the fact that more new cars have technology which, in effect, make drivers lazy. This is a perfect example of that and a perfect example of how not to handle the aftermath. What is more concerning to me is not that the driver is downplaying the accident, but that your company is. You absolutely have every right not to get into the car with someone who has such little regard for the accident which caused injury to her passenger! And yes, she was negligent in her driving, so being arrested is par for the course. When are people going to start owning their mistakes?

    Reply
  33. eplawyer

    What is this the summer of abusing students/interns? She had her arm broken and the company is still allowing the bad driver behind the wheel? I would quit too. This company clearly cares more about keeping Jane happy for some reason that basic human decency.

    Given that, #1, not only would I refuse to get in the car with Jane, I would start actively looking for another job. If they are willing to allow this to happen, what else are they okay with? Flamethrowers in the office?

    Reply
    1. CMF

      In my imagination, this student had a second internship where someone drew profanity on her cast the next day…

      Reply
  34. AthenaC

    #3 – Yeah, “support” is pretty common. The issue is the way you’re treated, if there’s issues with that. I used to work in a company where my department was the second-class citizens of the company …. even though we were the ONLY ones who had our stuff together from a regulatory standpoint (I’m oversimplifying but the overall point is fair). Plus we were the department the first-class citizens came to when they got themselves into a pickle and they needed someone smart (no offense – they were lovely people) to come to their rescue.

    You might consider whether you are taken for granted (meh) or actually thought of as less-than. A great company culture would actively appreciate all the goings-on behind operations (admin, IT, etc.); a good-enough company culture only mildly takes them for granted but still sees them as people; a bad company culture sees admin / IT / etc. as servants.

    Reply
  35. AisforA

    #4 – I feel like this could ALMOST have been written by me. It’s not because I’m non-exempt, however. I am leaving my job after 5 years. I gave them 7 weeks notice so they could find my replacement so that I could train them so my boss wouldn’t have to. I have worked my butt off for years. I have also been put in charge of planning the goodbye parties for other employees in the past – during work hours. My boss straight out told me that she angry that I’m leaving, and we’ll do a goodbye party with just the people she invites after work. This won’t include my staff or other co-workers that she’s not personal friends with. I’m kind of bummed, because I really love the team here (other than her).

    Reply
    1. InkyPinky

      Set up your own goodbye with ppl you want to invite. Which clearly won’t include your boss… You’re leaving plus it’s after hours. She can’t dictate what you do after hours. The only reason not to is if you need her for future references and she’s that petty.

      Reply
    2. Elise

      Yeah, I’d say I’m not available after hours and then invite my work friends to dinner or drinks. If it’s after hours, you can just have who you want to say goodbye to there!

      Reply
    3. Noobtastic

      Let her have her after-work party, with the people she invites. It’s off-the-clock, so YOU are not required to attend. She can’t force you to attend her after-work party. Don’t go.

      What’s she going to do? Fire you? For not doing an off-the-clock thing? If she retaliates, report her to HR.

      In fact, if she’s already discriminating against you, going against established procedure with you, go ahead and report her to HR, anyway.

      Because this really stinks.

      Reply
  36. Frances

    OP 1, I cannot understand your company’s actions regarding Jane. It’s one thing to give an employee a second chance when they mess up, but some mistakes are too big to ignore. Additionally, Jane’s refusal to take responsibility for her actions is a red flag in and of itself. I really hope you are able to change their minds.

    All I could think of when I read your letter is that Jane got wicked lucky that a broken arm and a totalled car were all that came out of this. What if it wasn’t a 18 wheeler truck that she hit at highway speed, but rather a regular passenger sedan? There likely would have been a hell of lot more human injury. Yikes!

    Reply
    1. Cathy

      I don’t understand why OSHA hasn’t already removed Jane from the driving arena. Or is it that someone hasn’t notified them yet?

      Reply
      1. Natalie

        OSHA is a busy agency with insufficient funding – this event is not remotely big enough to draw their attention.

        Reply
  37. TotesMaGoats

    #1-This seems to be a situation where raising hell is appropriate. I would not get in the car with Jane. Ever. If she was apologetic or took blame or anything else, then maybe but her excuses, no. Self braking cars aren’t so common that we don’t all still have to know how to drive our cars in traffic.
    #2-So, just be aware of how much your are writing and not looking at your interviewer and how much that slows down the process. I’ve only had one person do more than just jot down key words and that person really drug out the interview. It was painful.
    #3-If the “support” people are being treated badly, that’s the issue. Not what they are called. You might want to frame it as a “client model” in that IT, Marketing, HR have all the operations groups as clients. That could bring about some title changes that might help.
    #4-Your boss sucks big time.
    #5-You should be paid for carting them about, no question. Their choice to not have transportation or use public transport is not your responsibility.

    Reply
  38. Delta Delta

    #1 – Criminal Defense Lawyer here: Just want to point out that apparently this woman got ARRESTED for for the accident she caused. That tells me this isn’t an “oops, we got into an accident because sometimes accidents happen” kind of accident. This tells me that her actions were egregious enough – at least in the eyes of law enforcement – to arrest her and initiate criminal proceedings against her. The company is very head-in-the-sand on this one.

    Also, I’m starting to worry that interns everywhere are plagued with broken arms. Hopefully nobody tracks down this intern and draws profanity on her cast.

    Reply
    1. Nan

      Exactly. It sounds like she admitted she wasn’t paying attention because she thought the car would drive itself. That’s intentional to me. That’s not an accident, that’s an on purpose.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        That’s not on purpose. On purpose would be “I wanted to hit the truck and I did.” What she did made an accident inevitable, but it was still an accident.

        Reply
        1. On Fire

          All the drivers at my last workplace took a defensive driving class. The instructor said, basically, if you’re at fault, it’s not an accident – it’s failure to pay attention, maintain control, maintain the vehicle, etc. He referred to them as wrecks or collisions, but never accidents. (This isn’t attacking your comment, just a note that *most* collisions can be avoided with basic precautions.)

          Reply
          1. fposte

            Right, but we still call them “accidents.” Just because we’re mad that somebody did a dumb thing doesn’t make this intentional.

            Reply
            1. LBK

              There’s actually some interesting discussion about the psychological element of our cultural habit of referring to all car crashes as “accidents” even when someone is at fault, in the way that it makes them seem more inevitable and lessens the urgency to try to prevent them. Will follow with a link to a NY Times article where they discuss the distinction and how the difference in terminology has started to be implemented.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                Oh, that’s fascinating. I was thinking about “accident,” in fact, and also about the difference between the proximal cause treatment and Mike C.’s system analysis. I’m still pretty firm that calling this intentional is to draw the dividing line in the wrong place, but it makes me think of how much I hate the “did the best s/he could” locution. I think that’s rarely true–most of us aren’t doing the very best we can at any given moment, and a lot of us could have done better. It also seems very fatalistic.

                So let’s split the difference to say Jane crashed the car. That I can get on board with, even though I won’t get on board with Jane.

                Reply
                1. LBK

                  Ha, I like that last line :) In this particular case I’m in agreement with your assessment that I wouldn’t consider it intentional, I was more just musing on “car accident” as a colloquialism in general.

              2. Marillenbaum

                It’s like in Hot Fuzz when Sgt. Angel tells Danny that Official Vocab Guidelines are to refer to all traffic accidents as collisions, because “Accident implies there’s no one to blame.”

                Reply
    2. paul

      yeah, I’d love to know more. I’ve been 100% at fault in an accident and wasn’t arrested. I’ve been in an accident where the other person was 100% at fault, *they* weren’t arrested either. In fact, the only people I know that have been actually cuffed and taken to jail after a wreck were drunk, stoned, or doing obscenely dangerous stuff (think going 30 over, going the wrong way on one way roads while speeding, etc).

      Reply
    3. Moonlight Elantra

      Could it be that the driver was just ticketed? Failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident, I would guess? A ticket is technically a form of arrest, as I spent countless hours telling people on the phone back in my newspaper days, because everyone in the police blotter was listed as “Jane Driver, 33, was arrested on charges of failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident, being a total [glassbowl], and endangering the life of an intern, on July 28, at Location…” even if they just got ticketed.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        I’m not totally sure that’s accurate – a ticket stop is technically a form of arrest, but it doesn’t go on your arrest record, so I’d be surprised if they were reported that way on the police blotter. I would think if the police say someone was arrested, that means a genuine arrest.

        Reply
        1. Delta Delta

          A traffic stop is a seizure under the 4th amendment, but falls short of an arrest. An arrest can certainly grow out of a traffic stop.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            IANAL so I defer to anyone with better knowledge, but I did find one source that said an arrest is any time a police officer prevents you from leaving an area. This means technically pulling you over is a temporary arrest until such time as they’re done writing you the ticket and they let you go. But I can’t think of a time when that would be a relevant definition.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              I think that’s a detention/being detained, but it’s not the same thing as an arrest. The bar for detaining someone is lower than for arresting someone.

              Reply
            2. Jessie the First (or second)

              If memory serves, Delta Delta is a lawyer. :-) There DD is absolutely right that there is a difference between an arrest and a brief detention, and there is a whole bunch of case law and complex analysis about where the line is between a temporary detention and an arrest. But the tl;dr version is that a standard traffic stop isn’t an arrest.

              Reply
            3. Jessie the First (or second)

              (To expand a bit… an arrest requires Miranda rights. When you get pulled over and ticketed, you don’t get your Miranda rights. You have not been arrested. Police can detain people without arresting them – the bit about “free to leave” isn’t the standard for arrest but comes into play with whether there has been a seizure under the 4th amendment. So whatever source you were looking at is conflating some different, albeit related, issues)

              (Also, why did I put that all in parentheses?)

              Reply
              1. CityMouse

                An arrest does not require Miranda rights. A custodial interrogation requires Miranda. The only consequence to not giving Miranda rights to someone when you arrest them is that you can’t ask them questions until you do and the consequence of not giving warnings is that the result of any such interrogation would be inadmissible, not that the arrest is invalid. (I am actually a lawyer).

                Reply
                1. Jessie the First (or second)

                  I am as well. My point to the above poster is that a traffic stop is not an arrest, and pointed to the lack of Miranda rights figuring that would be an “aha! of course” detail.

                2. CityMouse

                  Okay your statement is misleading because very few people are actually given rights when arrested though, it is usually much later and an interrogation can be totally unnecessary at any point. It is such a common trope on tv that people are given Miranda rights when being arrested but it actually does not happen th at way. Arrest and Miranda rights are totally different things.

                3. Sal

                  God bless my many former clients who told me, “They didn’t read me my rights!”
                  Me: Okay, did you say anything?
                  Client: No.
                  Me: Okay, so…moving on…

            4. CityMouse

              An arrest requires probable cause (in the most over simplified way and vastly over simplifying for jurisdictional issues,reasonable grounds to believe a crime has been comitted) whereas a traffic stop requires reasonable suspicion. There is not bright line between the two. My totally baseless suspicion is that they decided to arrest her for reckless driving.

              Reply
      2. Optimistic Prime

        Even if ticketing is a form of arrest, it’s unlikely that the LW would phrase it the way they did in the letter. Usually when people who are not law enforcement say someone got arrested, they mean they got led away in cuffs to go to jail.

        Reply
      1. Brandy

        I just thought though, the last car accident I was in, I was the at fault and he got arrested, but it was because he had an outstanding warrant.

        Reply
      2. Jaybeetee

        More egregious driving offences can get someone arrested. Stunting, DUI, etc. In this case, it was likely careless or reckless driving, or something along those lines.

        But assuming something like careless driving (though this might vary by country/region), she should have a ton of demerit points, a substantial fine, and possibly a suspended license. Even assuming she got out of the suspension, it makes it even more unbelievable that she’s still cleared to drive a company vehicle, as her insurance coverage should be going through the roof (assuming the insurance will continue to cover her at all, most insurance companies won’t cover someone with criminal driving offences, and those that do charge incredibly high premiums).

        Reply
      3. Free Meerkats (formerly Gene)

        IANAL

        In most jurisdictions, Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor instead of an infraction like most other traffic offenses. In some jurisdictions, it can also be a felony.

        If Jane told the cop, “The car was supposed to stop on its own!” the cop likely would have considered that Reckless Driving and decided that arrest was a good idea, especially as there were injuries.

        Reply
    4. aebhel

      MTE. I’ve been fully at fault for a couple of serious car accidents (no one was seriously injured, thankfully, but the vehicles were completely totaled). Both times I was written a ticket at the scene, but I was most definitely not arrested. Makes me wonder if something else was going on here as well.

      Reply
  39. Nan

    Wait, what? She forgot she had to pay attention while she’s driving? I don’t even want to be on the road with her, let alone in the same vehicle. Yikes!

    Reply
  40. overcaffeinatedandqueer

    I can’t believe the employee in question wasn’t at least banned from driving company cars any more!

    Full disclosure, I’m not a good driver. I didn’t get my license until 19, and never had my own car or drove regularly until 26 (before that I either lived in places with public transit or confined my driving to my tiny hometown). I’m impatient, and I have lead foot when roads are empty or I’m stressed out (when my wife broke her leg in the north woods, and I had to pack up the cabin and hurry back to the hospital, I…was regularly hitting triple digit speeds on the empty roads).

    But now I feel better about myself because at least I’m careful in traffic, slow down to match those around me when it’s crowded, and, you know, DON’T EXPECT THE CAR TO DRIVE ITSELF(!!!)

    Reply
    1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

      To be fair, I don’t think the “I have to hurry and get to my [family member] at the hospital” is a concern at all. You might still be impatient and have a lead foot, but I think most everyone will sympathize and understand that one. And, may I say, what an awesome wife you are for doing what needs to be done to take care of her!

      Reply
  41. MissDisplaced

    “Not her fault because she forgot the car doesn’t stop automatically”
    Oh. Oh my! Did I miss the part where we now have self-driving cars?

    Reply
    1. paul

      Until they can recite the three laws of robotics back to me I’m going to refuse to trust them at all. I’m a luddite.

      Reply
      1. Amadeo

        The Three Laws of Robotics just lead to trouble. If we’re holding out for self-driving cars, I’d say hold out for KITT-level intelligence.

        Reply
    2. LBK

      I can’t tell if you’re being facetious, but auto-stopping is actually a real feature of many cars now. She wasn’t just pulling that out of her ass.

      Reply
  42. Fabulous

    OP2 I could have written this question. One of the reasons I hate talking on the phone or in person at work is because there’s no written record of requests or changes or whatever it is that was just assigned to me. I ALWAYS tell the person to email me the information because I WILL forget the details. The people who just want to “talk it out – it’ll be easier to talk than try to write it in an email” annoy me to high heaven. It won’t be easier if I can’t remember a dern thing you say!

    For interviews, what I do is write up all my questions (and also situational examples for those pesky “tell me about a time when” questions) and stick it in a portfolio along with the job description, copies of my resume, and the names of who I’m meeting and directions to the building/room. My portfolio also has a spot for a pen so I’m always good there too. I’ll keep the portfolio in front of me and refer to it when I need to, jotting down short notes that pertain to my questions so I won’t forget if they’ve already been discussed, or any new questions I think of during the discussion, etc.

    I’m sure it’s been mentioned oodles of times to keep your focus on the interviewers when writing notes. I’d suggest packing a different colored pen than what you’ve written your questions in just in case your scribbles go ‘over the lines’ so you can still distinguish what’s what on the page!

    Reply
    1. OP #2

      Thanks for the advice! I for sure will be coming up with questions and taking those with me because I think that’s something I didn’t do last time. I’m pretty quick with taking notes that make sense so I’m not too worried about the time involved. I also can write without looking to some extent.

      Yeah work conversations are always hard because a lot of the people are on the road, driving or they only have two minutes to make the call. Very few people actually send emails so I’m stuck with writing everything down. One coworker sometimes will ask me a question and then promptly turn it into a “hey please do this thing” and I’m with out a notebook to write it down.

      Reply
  43. WellRed

    If my coworkers had to lose pay because they had to drive me, I’d be mortified. Id’ be tempted in this case to pick up the non driver and say, “I am losing ‘X’ amount of pay, plus gas and mileage to drive you.” I mean, I wouldn’t really..

    Reply
  44. Government Worker

    I wonder if the claim about the “exaggerated” broken arm is due to the type and location of the break. I have a friend with a broken radius right now, and he said that due to how the radius functions in the arm (it doesn’t really bear weight, I guess?) they often don’t put a cast on the kind of break he has. So if you see him but don’t talk to him about it you’d never know it was broken – you might notice that he’s favoring that side, but depending on the situation you might not even notice that.

    Jane claiming it’s exaggerated is still a jerk move.

    Reply
  45. Observer

    #1 – Please make sure that you go as a GROUP to your management, because then they can’t (legally, at least) punish you for refusing to get into a car with her.

    Check out what laws or regulations may be in effect in your locality regarding safety. There may be something that gives you some leverage there, as well.

    Lastly, start looking for a new job. You management stinks to high heavens and I doubt they will change.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      It makes sense to me that it would be illegal to punish her, but I’m wondering where that proscription comes from. Where are you thinking?

      Reply
      1. Observer

        NLRA – you cannot punish employees for banding together to address their “conditions of employment”. This qualifies, bug time.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          You can’t fire employees for organizing over wages and working conditions, but you can indeed fire people for refusing to do the work you’ve asked them to do. For this to be illegal, they’d have to show the firing was about the organizing, not the refusal.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Yeah, but they do have a right to a safe workplace, so that’s going to be a hard argument to make. Especially since they are not refusing to go places, they are just asking for a SAFE way to do so.

            Reply
            1. oranges & lemons

              I’m not familiar with US law, but would it be legal to fire someone for refusing to do something unreasonably dangerous? And where would you draw the line about what would be reasonably dangerous given the requirements of the job?

              Reply
              1. fposte

                The at-will doctrine that’s the law in 49 of the 50 states means that the U.S. defaults to “firing doesn’t need a cause”–we just have some exceptions to that.

                Depending on what the unreasonably dangerous thing is, it could be construed as falling into one of those exceptions, and it might not. In reality, what would happen most often isn’t that there would be any punishment for the employer or redress for the employee, but that they would be able to receive unemployment insurance.

                Reply
          2. JamieS

            Would refusing to ride in a car be a refusal to perform a job duty though? I’d consider the actual job duty to be visiting clients not the actual riding in the car which is more a means to an end.

            Reply
  46. Beancounter Eric

    #1 “I forgot the company car doesn’t have auto-braking”…..WHAT!?! Absolutely no way I would ride with your coworker.

    #2 Absolutely take notes if it is helpful – As stated earlier, just don’t let it get in the way of the interview.

    #3 Companies where I’ve worked considered everyone not in a revenue-generating role to be support. The problem has been that in several, revenue-generators treated us in “support” like crap…I won’t go into detail save to say a level of disrespect and rude conduct which was tolerated by leadership because “they bring in revenue, you don’t.”

    Reply
    1. Noobtastic

      HAH! I’d like to see them bring in any revenue at all, without support!

      Most people have no respect for dirt… Until there isn’t any under their feet, and then they scream their heads off. For a moment.

      Reply
  47. OldJules

    #3 The word support…

    Yeah… I am not a fan of that. While I understand we say IT, HR etc as support departments, I am not a fan of using that language in communication. Especially in context of X supported the effort of Y. When doing X is essential function and if it’s not done, Y has no chance of completing. Or with the support of X, Y manage to do Z, when it actually is X was mentoring Y. It also grates more when there is a female and male dynamics at play as well which can seem diminishing. If you have a good personal relationship with these people, you could always reach out and say, “Hey, I noticed that you used the word support in reference to what we do, do you mind rewording it to >insert your preferred word< next time? I think it flows better/reflects the situation accurately." You don't have to give an excuse, typically people don't care when alternative words are suggested. If they do though, be prepared for an actual discussion about it.

    Reply
    1. LQ

      It’s interesting. For us the support who are having trouble seeing they are support are very primarily male and they are supporting the core business area which happens to be slightly more female. I know that I will push back every time that our support area (IT) that sees themselves as a reason unto themselves try to say they aren’t support. I will talk about how our work can be done without them and how they need to think about the customers first and foremost and that they are always the least important people in the room. If they aren’t thinking about the customers first they are wrong. They support the business that supports the customers.

      Reply
    2. AgreeingAnon

      I agree with this. “Support” has clear connotations, and not everyone sees it as “well, without support, the building would fall!” I also always make a point of wording what I say to avoid ever making it sound like someone is just supporting something or just helping with something. If a “supportive” department is working with a “primary” department on a project, the “supportive” department is not “supporting,” “assisting,” or “helping out”: they’re WORKING. “Thanks for your work on this,” not “thanks for your help/support on this.”

      I “helped out” a department by writing hundreds of pages of narrative and compiling hundreds of pages for data for a do-or-you-all-get-fired report at work. I wasn’t technically part of the department that needed the report done, and so the department members saw me as supportive, assistive, and as helping out. Literally. The department gave me a thank-you card wherein EVERYONE wrote something like, “Thanks for helping out!” and “Thanks for being so supportive!” and “Thanks for your assistance on our report!” In person, they said it the same way: “AgreeingAnon was such a great helper!” Yeah, no. I didn’t help. I didn’t support. I DID IT. The raging pedant that I apparently am, I would have preferred no card and no thanks at all to that.

      Reply
      1. Been There, Done That

        Exactly. “Support” is so often viewed as the ones who help the doers, not as ones who themselves do things or have ideas that achieve organizational objectives. In my organization, management does sometimes speak/act as if “support” is a lower-level function that lower-level staff do for “the team.” It sounds as if other firms aren’t like that, but it’s hard to take any pride in your work when you’re viewed that way.

        Reply
  48. LQ

    #3. You are support. The business that does the making/doing the thing of the business is the reason the business exists. Support should operate as internal consultants to the primary business areas. They are areas that could be fired wholesale and replaced by external vendors. It should act in a support manner to the primary business area.

    That doesn’t mean you should be treated worse, but you shouldn’t start to think that you are the reason the business exists.

    I am in training, I could be replaced by external training organizations, it wouldn’t change the core of the business. Which means I am there to support the core of the business. We aren’t the reason they exist. They could very easily hire this work out elsewhere.

    We have been running into an issue lately of our IT department thinking that they are core to the business. If tomorrow we didn’t have them we could still do the core of our business, and then on Monday we’d have someone else in to replace them.

    Again, it doesn’t mean you should be treated worse, but it is important to know what the core of your business is and if you support the core, support. Support is incredibly important and valuable. Support can make a good business gleam. And understanding that you are support is helpful too. What is my role in the org? Where do I fit? How do I support the core?

    Reply
    1. Wowza

      My primary business is higher ed: teaching students, academic stuff, etc. If we fired everyone in IT today, we wouldn’t be operable by Monday. They’re pretty integral to every single system we use to be academic. Maybe your IT department is right.

      The only thing in business not “easily replaceable” is the end-customer. You’re replaceable. I’m replaceable. The CEO is replaceable. The secretary is replaceable. Being replaceable is not an indicator of support status.

      Reply
      1. LQ

        Unless your business is IT they should be there to support the business. Our IT department has started to act like they don’t need to be accountable for the money they spend, like they don’t need to have project plans, like they don’t need to take the actual user into account.

        IT is WRONG. They are NOT the most important people in the room. The user is. Your most important people are your students. If there were no students and there were no educators there would be no IT. IT doesn’t exist without a business to support. This is the hill I will die on. IT is NOT what the business should revolve around. The customers are.

        Reply
      2. doreen

        It’s not a matter of IT ( or HR or payroll or any other support departments) not being important , or even about the people being replaceable. It’s a matter of those functions not having to reside within a specific organization. I work for a state government, and when I started over 20 years ago all except the smallest agencies had their own HR, IT, finance, etc departments. Over the last 6 years, those functions are being removed from the individual agencies and housed in their own agencies, so that the other agencies can focus on their core mission. So my agency no longer has an IT department- we get our IT services from the Office of Information Technology. Some agencies no longer have HR and finance departments – they get those services from a business services center. Smaller organizations often do the same thing by outsourcing these functions to consultants.
        While you couldn’t fire everyone in IT today and be operating Monday, your institution could certainly decide to eliminate the IT department six months from now and outsource the function. On the other hand, it makes no sense to eliminate the people who teach the students – what would the function of your institution be without educators?

        Reply
    2. Paquita

      My ‘office building’ is actually called the Support Center. 500+ people. We support the Service Centers and the external customers. IT, HR, A/R,A/P, Payroll, Billing, Real Estate, Traffic/Pricing, Customer Service, Collections,etc. All the things that are needed to assist the people in the field to do their jobs and keep the company going. I don’t bring in revenue, I apply the payments. My boss says we put the money in the bank. That is just as important as generating the revenue!

      Reply
  49. Undine

    #1 In general, I’m not a fan of lawyering up, but if you can get a letter on legal letterhead with words like negligence, liability, unsafe working conditions — maybe that would help bring attention to it. Also, how high up does this go? Are there levels above the management you’ve spoken to that might not know about this? Does the CEO know? Could HR help?

    Reply
  50. Antti

    #1

    If you forget that the car doesn’t have that feature, it’s still your fault by definition. I don’t understand the coworker’s excuse at all. And I’m echoing the shock that she can still drive for the company. I’m a little disinclined to believe her record is totally clean otherwise and I’m sure it had to have been recorded as a major violation on her MVR; if I were underwriting the company’s insurance, I would be excluding her from coverage and absolutely non-renewing coverage if I found out she was still driving for them. I’m pretty flabbergasted at this whole situation.

    And I agree with Alison’s advice to push back as a group. And maybe bring this up too? Continuing this would be a great way to get the company’s insurer to drop them.

    Reply
  51. Jana

    OP #1: Wow, why in the world has the company not immediately revoked this employee’s status as an authorized driver?! The fact that her excuse is that she forgot the car didn’t automatically stop (most don’t…) is a real red flag. I’m surprised they’d put themselves in such a precarious position given that there was police involvement and a documented injury. At any rate, Alison’s advice is spot on and you should stand your ground on this.

    OP #4: That’s awful. It’s not “work work”? What a rude thing to say. I suppose the bright side is that you’re leaving that place.

    Reply
  52. Lady Phoenix

    The coworker in story 1 is the reason I utterly DISPISEnthese new safety features. I always worry that people take these geatures for granted and use it as an excuse to be lazy/stupid drivers. I try to not rely on these features as much because I mever know when they will fail (and they will because nothing is perfect).

    My car only has cruise contral, which I don’t use cause of co stant shif between highway and suburban driving.

    Reply
    1. Observer

      Please. This didn’t happen because of these safety features. As others have noted, this is a car she drove regularly. She knew what the deal was. She’s just making excuses. Why would you believe anything she says about the matter when she claims that the student is “exaggerating” her broken bone.

      Reply
      1. Lady Phoenix

        I understand that this was NOT a car with safety features. I am just arguing against the very idea of solely relying on safety features like the coworker intended to do [if the car had them].

        Reply
  53. curmudgeon

    non-exempt –
    could be even “better – an associate & I (both high level) were laid off, my assistant quit in protest, & a 4th quit because it had already been tough working there & without the 3 of us, she knew she couldn’t stay. They threw a “Goodbye Party!”for us. We were expected to attend & I had to have my staff come too (without closing my office…) and “enjoy” ourselves. I was the last to show up & after the CEO & GM BOTH told me how much they would miss me & how much they enjoyed working with me and were sorry to see me leave (I mean, WTF? THEY were the ones who laid me off!) I lost it and left. Several people came to sit with me as I tried to gain control, including the GM who was puzzled as to why the party would upset. Seriously – We get laid off & you throw a party…

    Reply
    1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

      That’s an extreme case of obliviousness (hopefully), or lack of consideration for your feelings. That’s just…wow.

      Reply
  54. Detective Amy Santiago

    #4 – you’re non-exempt, but I presume you get an unpaid lunch break each day. Why can’t they do a thing during that time? That way you’re not getting paid to party (*eyeroll*).

    Reply
  55. Snark

    #1 reflects a major concern among experts in autonomous driving, which is that the systems we’ve got now are inappropriate because they do a bad job of handoff – it’s replacing the driver for select functions, letting them become complacent, right up to the limits of the system where the driver needs to take control and isn’t prepared to. I personally believe the target should not be “autopilot” but “copilot” – a watchful, proactive system that prevents you from exceeding the envelope of safe driving in an unobtrusive fashion, rather than replacing your judgement and action.

    Reply
    1. fposte

      The old joke about flying is that the cockpit of the future will be one pilot and one dog; the pilot to feed the dog, and the dog to bite the pilot if s/he tries to touch any of the controls.

      (It’s likely that automating most of driving will be safer overall, because humans are generally the most common weak spot, but it will mean that new kinds of accidents are more common.)

      Reply
      1. Snark

        My feeling is that with full autonomy, even the accidents that happen will be so much less common and less severe that we all end up better off.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Right. Despite the jokes, the automation really has improved the safety of flying amazingly (I remember life before TCAS).

          Reply
    2. Kyrielle

      Yeah, I really like backup cameras for this, vs. the auto-stop if something is behind you. The latter would be a bit easy to get dependent on. The former? Well, if I look at a backup camera screen but there isn’t one or it’s not working, I immediately shift to other procedures like I use today. But when it’s there and working, I can see more than with mirrors alone. (That said, I know of people who apparently don’t look out windows or in mirrors when using a backing camera. Um…. But even those have angle limitations?)

      Reply
    3. aebhel

      Even something like cruise control, which has been around for ages now, can be problematic if you have to brake quickly (which is one of the reasons I don’t use it… also, it just freaks me out).

      Reply
      1. Middle Name Jane

        I’ve never liked to use cruise control. The feeling of it freaks me out, and I feel like I start to zone out and not pay attention when using it. Operating the pedals myself keeps me accountable and focused on my driving.

        Reply
      2. Soon to be former fed

        Generally, cruise control resets after accelerating from the set speed, and disengages after braking.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Right, it’s not a system that mechanically would interfere with braking. I wondered if aebhel meant cognitively, though, because I think that’s true–people, including me, do not brake as fast as they might if it will disengage cruise control. It’s a weird glitch because my mind knows it’s dumb even as I’m doing it.

          Reply
  56. Middle Name Jane

    Letter 1: Appalled doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel about the cavalier attitude of the driver who caused this accident and the company that continues to allow her access to company vehicles. I hope the injured student sues both parties. If I were in the OP’s shoes, I would absolutely refuse to ride with this woman. I would rather drive my own personal vehicle at my expense than be forced to ride in a company car with this woman as a driver.

    Letter 5: Why is it your company’s problem that this employee has no transportation to work? Shouldn’t she figure that out herself–by getting her own car, using Uber or Lyft, getting a ride from a family member, or taking public transportation? How does she get around town to do personal errands? If the company is going to compel you to pick her up (and clearly I don’t think they should), they should pay you. Not just for your time, but the mileage on your car.

    Reply
    1. Yzma, Put Your Hands In The Air!

      I totally agree with your response to #1, especially that last sentence!

      For #5, the company isn’t even really taking responsibility for the issue; they’re foisting it off on their other employees, to do on their own time, in the own vehicles, which is even more egregious.

      Reply
      1. Middle Name Jane

        Oh, yeah, clearly the company in letter 5 is foisting the responsibility of transportation onto its other employees, but my point is that the company shouldn’t be involved in how an employee gets to and from work (obviously not talking about cases like in letter 1 where a company vehicle is at play). If the employee can’t secure her own transportation to and from work through one of the methods I mentioned in my previous post, then she needs to find a job within walking distance of her home.

        Reply
    2. Kyrielle

      LW, be careful – it is possible that if you pick your coworker up for work _as a requirement of your job and as paid time_, you may need additional insurance (a rider or something – which your company should pay for if it happens, IMO). Personal insurance often doesn’t cover “driving for work” and while your commute doesn’t count as that, picking someone up as a job duty might. (I don’t know if it does. But I know some things do, and it could.)

      If your company insists or may insist on you doing this as a job duty, you should check with your insurance first, and bring that (as well as paid time and mileage) to your employer as something they need to pay for.

      Reply
  57. Janelle

    Ok so you thought the car had that but around the time you are about to plow into a truck would you not hit the flipping brakes! This woman should have her license revoked. She sounds nuts!

    Reply
  58. Military Maven

    #3 – I can understand your frustration with the way some departments are seeming to minimize the value of support. I am a civilian working with the military and we have an idiom we use to explain the different job assignments specifically to try to curb that sort of minimization. Every individual job is vital to our success; if it were not vital, it would not be there. “Tip of the Spear” is a phrase used all over and most people think of Navy SEALs or Army Rangers or Marine Raiders or Air Force 509BW. But that is not how the concept is pushed in military circles. Not everyone can be the Tip of the Spear. And the Tip of the Spear isn’t good for much if it doesn’t have a strong, long Pole and secure bindings connecting the Tip to the Pole. Our mechanics, medics, intelligence, and weather ops may be that tight binding, but those people couldn’t do their jobs if it weren’t for Personnelists, Nutritionists, Logistics, Cyber, Facilities.

    I work with the training division of one of the branches and we are constantly emphasizing that not everyone is the Tip of the Spear or we’d be a useless bouncy ball.

    Reply
    1. TheFigureItOutDepartment

      OP Here. Thank you for your comments. The tip-of-the-spear analogy is absolutely perfect.

      Reply
  59. Aphrodite

    OP #5, I am completely baffled by this. The company you work at expects you to chauffeur others to work? (I’m ignoring the work tie / free time issue for the moment.) They want those who have cars to act as ride givers to those without cars? I am staggered. Who thinks they can tell someone else what they can do with their personal items (cars in this case)?

    I would absolutely flat-out refuse. If I have a car I buy it, I pay for the car loan, gas, insurance, maintenance, any tickets I might get, and more. Yes, it’s a convenience but it is definitely not free. I do not maintain a car for anyone but me. I do not lend it. I do not share it. I certainly would not let anyone tell me what to do with it.

    How did this come about that a company decides an employee who has decided not to encumber herself with the expenses of owning a car (for whatever reason) has the right to hijack the cars of others? Her transportation need are her problem.

    Reply
  60. AfterBurner313

    I’d fix this mess with a note…

    Riding with Ms. BrainDead triggers my PTSD, which was caused when Ms. BrainDead let the the company car eat the back end of an 18 wheeler, thag cause a client injury.

    My therapist clears me to drive myself or ride with anyone else, but not occupy a car with Ms. BrainDead driving. (end of note)

    People get accommodations for all sorts of issues. I’m not dying in a rolling steel box because someone isn’t in the here and now while driving.

    Reply
  61. Jaybeetee

    OT alert.

    Ugh, #1 reminds me of my ex, who wasn’t dependent on automation (this was a few years ago now), but was a relatively aggressive driver who never seemed to grok to the fact that other drivers on the road might be more hesitant. He almost rear-ended people several times, especially at right-turn yields, because he never seemed to expect that the car in front of him might stop instead of merging in heavy traffic. One time he actually would have hit the car in front of us if I hadn’t yelled, because he was zoned out and fully expected the guy in front of him to turn/merge instead of stopping.

    It finally caught up to him one time when he was driving in rainy weather, and the *Escalade* in front of him stopped in the right-turn yield instead of merging. By the time my ex realized, he slammed the brakes (on his current ****box), but hydroplaned right into the vehicle that was worth more than what he was making annually back then. I’m not sure if he ever did fully learn the lesson of “just because you’d feel comfortable doing XYZ on the road, doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t hesitate.”

    Not relevant to the letter, but geez people, pay attention when the car in front of you is STOPPED.

    Reply
  62. Essie

    OP4: In most companies I’ve work for, going away parties depended on the circumstances surrounding the employee’s departure. You’re quitting to become a stay-at-home parent? We’ll miss you, here’s a cake. You’re moving overseas because your spouse got a job in Beijing? How exciting, let’s plan a lunch. You’re taking a better-paying job at a competitor? Don’t let the door hit your a$$ on the way out.

    So, is it possible that your boss is using your non-exempt status as an excuse?

    Reply
  63. AnonNurse

    #1 – I’m absolutely horrified that this person is still driving. Within the last week we had a terrible accident in my area involving a bus driver (think Greyhound style bus) who was distracted and hit stopped vehicles at full speed. 4 other vehicles were involved and 3 family members were killed in the accident. While I understand that there is a difference, as the bus driver would seemingly have an even larger responsibility to be present and engaged while driving, I still think it’s an excellent example when you’re not driving as you should be. It will only be a matter of time before another accident occurs and the outcome could be dire that time. Management is dropping the ball on this one big time.

    Reply
  64. Lady Phoenix

    #1: I can see your coworker being on “Canada’s Worst Driver” (if this was in Canada). In the meantime, you and your group should raise hell about this and not wanting to driver with her. Oh and take your complaints to HR and the hightest of bosses as a group.

    #2: I brought my planner to interviews to jot down notes and to point out important dates.

    #4: To quote Bender, “I’ll have my OWN party — with Blackjack and hookers!” Have your own awesome party, invites the peeps you wanna hang with, and [metephorically] tell your boss to f off.

    #5: Allison’s advice is spot on. If the company forces you to driver the coworker, get paid. If not, have the coworker foot the bill for gas.

    Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      Oh yeah, and I do hope that student sues the company to high heaven. Gross negligence and reckless endangerment, yet this witch still drives?! Aw hellllllllllll no!

      Reply
  65. nicolefromqueens

    Did OP1’s coworker get arrested for reckless driving, or is likely that something else was the reason for her arrest?

    Reply
    1. Lady Phoenix

      I can think reckless driving and endangerment (having a passenger get hurt), especially if her reasoning was the lack of safety features.

      I think there are always 3 cases when it comes to an accident: an actual accident, intentional (but then it is not an accident), or negligence (not intentional, but the driver did some stupid “duh” shit to get in the predictament and it is soooo on them)

      Reply
  66. Soon to be former fed

    #1, if your company has a risk management department, talk to them. No way your coworker still driving company cars is an acceptable risk. Why are they insisting she drive when others could do it. Co-worker sounds like a terrible driver, cruise control is for open road driving, and no matter what kind of newfangled features are on a car, the driver must still drive and be in control of the vehicle at all times. And exaggerating a broken arm? Just no. Don’t get in the car with her driving, under any circumstances.

    Reply
  67. Laurel

    OP’s coworker is putting the blame on everyone but herself. She should have had more common sense than to use cruise control if she was going to be in a situation where constantly breaking and slowing down was common – such as a highway. Also, who “exaggerates” a broken arm? Something tells me that if she had to have a car that utilized automatic braking, she was never a good driver to begin with. That, or just lazy. I’m with OP on this one: I would never want to ride in a car with her EVER again.

    Reply
  68. Noobtastic

    #1 – I Love (sarcasm) how she denies responsibility by claiming responsibility. “It’s not my fault because I forgot…”

    THIS is why I dislike those automatic car things. They train people to be helpless. What’s worse, the people who are helpless don’t even realize they are helpless or feel the need to empower themselves, even if it causes an accident.

    Having been in multiple accidents, and am now suffering life-long problems due to the accidents, her cavalier attitude makes me want to go violent. I have self control, and would not actually y strike her, but I would tell the boss that says I ought to ride with her as driver, “This is the hill I will die on because I DO NOT WANT TO DIE!”

    That broken bone was a warning, not a NBD. Next time (and with her attitude, I guarantee there will be a next time), someone may not be so lucky. Broken bones are easier to heal than soft-tissue injury, and brain splatters take even longer. Decapitation has a pretty long recovery time, too. Let’s just say, I have a long list of people I know (or who know people, themselves) who have had permanent injury and/or death from a car accident, and almost all of them were caused by careless drivers. Not by faulty equipment. CARELESS drivers.

    This woman is a walking time bomb on the road.

    I can’t even. It’s bringing up memories of my accidents. All of my accidents. All caused by idiots who thought the rules of physics only applied to other people. I need to go do something else now. Dang. I think I’ll watch cartoons, or something, that has no automobiles in it, at all.

    LW, please stick to your guns, and do not ride with her as a driver, and bring it up to the Labor Board, if you must, because this is a safety issue of huge proportions! Not only that, but if the company allows a known careless driver to drive company cars, without at the very least taking some sort of defensive driving course, then WHEN she has another accident, and harms an innocent bystander, they will be sued so hard, they’ll think Thor’s Hammer is soft and cuddly, by comparison.

    Reply

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