What a nice entry to end a quiet spell on my blog … we’ll get onto that in a minute…
Isn’t it weird that people are starting to understand the terms “blog” and “blogger” now? It’s because the “Bagdad Blogger” has been on the news a good few times over the past few months and so the word is entering circulation (I’ve heard it on BBC news a few times now, but only in relation to that guy). I wonder if it’ll become “mainstream” and be used for lots of other people. Will be interesting to see if it catches on. Only time will tell…
Now on to why this article is called “SPLAT”. No, it’s not some acronym (although Stupid People Leave Alex Traumatised would fit a bit). No, I didn’t jump off a diving board into a large swimming pool full of custard (although that sounds like a nice idea). What in fact happened is that I had a crash in my car and SPLAT is about how I feel after it (although that noise was not involved in the crash).
So… “what happened?” I hear you all calling… well sit comfortably and I shall begin…
About 1555 on 22/12/2003 I was involved in an “incident” on the A10, quite near the M25 junction. Some interesting stats:
4 police men
4 miles of tailback caused
2 police cars
2 people in the other vehile
1 mention on the radio
1 other vehicle involved
I was in the offside (right hand) lane of the A10 dual carriageway, coming up to a roundabout. In the nearside (left hand) lane there was a transit-style van turning left into a fairly narrow lane. Coming out of that lane was a smaller escort-style van, turning left (as indeed is the only option going on to a dual carriageway). The transit-style van slowed almost to a stop, allowing the escort-style van to come out of the lane before the transit-style van went into it (it was fairly narrow). The escort van pulled out STRAIGHT INTO THE OFFSIDE (right hand) LANE, where I was driving, and only a short distance ahead of me. I slammed on my brakes as they pulled across my path, immediately starting to skid in the wet conditions. As I braked, the car started to slide, with the beck end coming round left behind me as I swerved right to avoid the van. I managed to control the car sufficiently that I missed the van altogether, but instead went onto the central reservation and into the crash barrier. I think I was slightly unfortunate (but who knows what would have happened otherwise), because at the point where I left the road, the crash barrier ended and another started, so there was a concrete block at the end of it. My front right wheel and wing made significant contact with this concrete block, which I then skidded past and came to a halt 20m (ish) further down the road, still mostly on the central reservation.
After a couple of seconds of “oh, right, that just happened… yes… yes… this is real, not some dream or something” I got out the car and had a look at the damage and went to see the people in the van, because at this point I wasn’t 100% sure if I’d avoided them or not. As it turned out, I had missed them, and they had waited back down the road to stop other people running into the back of me. It was a council vehicle, and had orange flashy lights on the top, so they’d turned them on, so that other people would see that there was something going on… which was good.
The damage was pretty nasty and the car was no way driveable. The front right wheel was at right angles to where the front left one was, the suspension was completely wrecked, the wing had been obliterated, the bonnet had popped up a bit, the radiator was falling off and there was a big scrape down the side from the front right to the back. It was very odd – I could see the shell around where the pedals (and hence my feet) were from the outside, and how exposed that was, but there was minimal damage to that – PHEW!
Anyway, exchanged details with the other driver. I rang the AA to get them to come pick it up and move it off the road and they said 1 to 1.5 hours for a patrol car. The other driver and her passenger said they’d wait around until someone turned up. I rang Grant (whose house I’d just been at) and he was 15 mins away, so he came to meet me. I rang Mum (silly plan, she’d just worry, but I wasn’t thinking 100% straight). I then got another call from the AA. They quoted me £200 to get the car taken home and a 4-5 hour waiting time! Crazy! So wedecided to ring the police, since it was an obvious obstruction to the traffic on the road, and couldn’t be left for another 4 or 5 hours.
The police arrived in about 10 minutes, and parked up with their lights flashing away a little behind my car, making the whole situation a lot safer. They took details, statements and breath tests from both of us drivers and soon after the other driver left, so I thanked them for sticking around for that long. The police called a tow away truck company and they had someone out there about 20 minutes later to pick the car up. It made horrible scraping and creaking noises as they dragged the front right wheel along the road and onto the truck, but it was good to finally have it off the road.
Then I got in the truck and Grant went and fetched his car and we all went to the truck depot just a couple of miles away. There we rang the AA to cancel the pick up and I rang my insurers to arrange an engineer to come and inspect the car and to inform them of the accident and all that jazz. The guy who drove the truck was quite helpful and told us pretty much that the car would be a write off, which I’d suspected, but still held hope. My insurers refused to hire me a car, because no blame had been apportioned yet, so I had to arrange one for myself. By this time it was about 1730, so normal places were closed, but the handy truck-driving guy said there was a 24-hour place at Stanstead airport, which he kindly rang for us to see if they had any cars up for a week’s rental. Fortunately they did have one, that we could pick up at 1900. So that was that. I emptied my car into Grant’s, and said goodbye (probably) to my car… suppressing the odd tear in my eye as I did so.
We made a brief visit back to his house, as it was kind of on the way and so he could make some arrangements for meeting his girlfriend later on that night. Then it was off to Stanstead… just about half an hour drive away from Grant’s. I arrived there and, after some small confusion over where the right Hertz desk was, whether I was old enough to drive the vehicle, which car was really mine, even though it wasn’t in the right bay etc etc, I got a new Ford Fiesta (which, incidentally are horrible cars to drive AND to look at, from my limited experience. Bring back the old models!) to drive away in. Transferred stuff from Grant’s car to the hire car and finally set off for home a little after 1930.
Had a smooth run home and got back just before 2030. And that, as they say, was that. What a day! However:
Things to be thankful for:
i) Central reservations – imagine if I’d gone into the other lanes of traffic.
ii) Seatbelts – I would have been through the windscreen no doubt without this.
iii) Cars that don’t crumple too easily – I could have ended up a rather nasty version of legless this Christmas, had the car crumpled on impact with the crash barrier, since it was the front right of the car that took the brunt of the impact… just where I was sitting.
iv) My amazing driving skills (ahem) that allowed me to avoid the van – if I’d have hit it at 40mph into the driver-side door, I’m sure the woman driving wouldn’t have walked away too easily…
v) That I’m still in once piece, and no-one was hurt in a significant way (just me with a little whiplash).
vi) That I was still close to Grant’s and that he was available to keep me company and give me lifts places and stuff.
vii) That the other party didn’t just drive off!
viii) That the van had orange flashy lights on to warn other drivers.
So, you know, I can’t grumble too much. It’s just one of those things. I’m 99.5% sure the blame will be apportioned to them, and that my car will be a write off. But who knows… anything can happen!
And there endeth today’s not so happy entry!
Oh, and happy Christmas for tomorrow everybody!