Tuesday evening, I was involved in a minor accident. An SUV hit me from behind while I was stopped at a red light. No injuries, though the surprise of it all took a few hours to wear off. Unfortunately, Lil' Red suffered some damage. The bumper is hanging off, and the hatch is dented severely enough that it won't open. It had been looking pretty good for a 9+ year old economy car, but now I can see every day of those 9+ years and more. The insurance process is underway, and the other driver is taking full responsibility, but putting hundreds or even thousands of dollars into fixing a 9+ year old Hyundai Accent seems kind of silly, so I'll probably use the insurance money as a down payment on a new Accent. It will be nice to have a new car, but I'll sure miss Lil' Red. It was a good car. -- The Accent has changed a bit in the near decade since I got mine, and most of those changes are welcome. Unlike most modern cars, the Accent has actually gotten smaller over the years, and I do like a small car. The engine provides 27 much-needed horsepower more than what I have now, and as Hyundai's reputation improves the new car's mediocre resale value will be a huge improvement over Lil' Red's nonexistent resale value. The big disappointment is that there's no stereo unless I get the $1,800 options package - which I'm not - but the wires and speakers are there, so it will be easy to get an aftermarket stereo for a fraction of the cost. The Accent (old and new) also has a number of small, thoughtful features like a hook to keep the floormats in place; features that probably cost a few cents to include but make the driving experience a lot more pleasant without driving the price up. -- There have also been a number of changes in me, and this small fender bender hammered that point home for me. As minor an accident as it was, it was still my first, and it reminded me how much damage we're capable of when we get behind the wheel of a car. I think back to my younger days of driving 110 mph on the Thruway or generally goofing around when I should have been focusing on the road, and I wonder at the way fate resisted teaching me a lesson. Fortunately I learned that lesson gradually. No more fiddling with the radio while I drive or trying to open a bottle of Diet Pepsi while changing lanes or pushing myself to "make time" when I haven't had enough sleep. I'm a good driver when I want to be. And now, I want to be. Note: help me decide between black and white!