A few years ago whilst covering many motorway miles in the UK I developed an unaccountable fear of driving to the extent that I could not overtake and bottled out many times when trying to do so. Consequently, journeys took longer as I was stuck in the inside lane. Finally I sought counselling and was advised that several deaths of close family, being made redundant and moving house in a short space of time were catastrophic to my psyche and although superficially taking this in my stride, the subconscious rebelled.
T for Terror
I was eventually sorted, but this feeling has resurfaced following a bizarre run of incidents at junctions all in the last few days. The first event was whilst waiting to join the N332, the car in front of me inexplicably pulled out into the path of a small truck. The noise and sight of flying parts was incredible and subsequent events happened in a flash. Initially I thought that the inside of the car was on fire but as I instinctively ran to it could see that the driver was surrounded by the propellant for the air bag. The bonnet was ripped off; the engine severely damaged, spilling fluids. The driver’s side of the car was also crushed with most of the windows shattered. Amazingly the driver seemed unhurt, but wanted to get out of the car. I suggested that he wait for the ambulance just in case, but no he wanted out. The door was stuck, so with the help of another passer by we got him out and apart from a chest pain caused by the air bag punching him, he was OK
Hi-viz vests and warning triangles were deployed, traffic started moving again and the emergency services turned up so off I went. Unbelievably a few hours later I was approaching a T junction to my right when the driver pulled out straight in front of me; no impact but I discovered that my ABS brakes work!
The very next day, as I entered a roundabout a boy racer came screaming round from the left; my ABS still worked but then there was a hell of a racket as the articulated truck behind me hit his brakes too; I had to keep going to avoid being crushed from behind but still avoid the boy racer. Next day it was my turn to be a prat. Despite by now getting jittery at junctions, waiting to turn left I waited for a car to pass, then nearly pulled out in front of another who I can only assume was hidden in a blind spot
Avoiding the avoidable
As you can imagine by now I am pretty cautious at junctions with the old feelings of fear just below the surface. Such incidents cannot and do not happen only to me; most of the minor bumps that I have witnessed are at some form of intersection, so what can we learn? A statement of the blindingly obvious is that junctions are dangerous places; even more so if you are on two wheels. Whilst it is tempting to keep momentum; slow down and look around and behind you; allow plenty of time to pull out. Taking a risk by accelerating quickly may allow you out, but the reactions of other drivers could cause an accident elsewhere. The truck that nearly hit me was undoubtedly too close with the driver looking at traffic coming from the left instead of concentrating on me, the vehicle immediately in front him. Exactly the same happened to me at a roundabout in Bristol many years ago when I again had to stop suddenly, but this didn’t prevent the old boy who hit me in the rear from blaming me!
Just in case, keep the hi-viz vests, triangles, fire extinguisher and first aid kit handy. Now where’s the valium?