Monday, October 17, 2005

Bark: And with that, someone's morning just came to a crunching stop...

Working in the office for the first time in a few weeks, necessitating a trip down the M3 to Hursley. The weather was pretty evil this morning, to paraphrase an infamous weather forecast - the 'f' in fog - and I've hit the motorway about 5 minutes later than I would have ideally liked, so I know that things are going to get hairy around Basingstoke.

True to form, about a mile and a half from the junction, I see that things are beginning to stack up, so I head for the outside lane, where things get sluggish, but usually don't slow down so much that you're crawling. Not today, it would seem - the whole carriageway is grinding to a halt, so I pop on the hazard warning lights to stop people climbing all over my boot as I drop down to a gentle halt.

I see that people are bailing out of the inside lane, so I conclude that there's been an accident while the queuing has started for the Basingstoke junction. A huge lorry is straddling both inside lanes, and as I creep past at 10mph, I see that there are two wrecked cars in front of it. Well, one and a half cars, really. A 4x4 or one of those 7 seater people carriers (something like a Verso, I think - I didn't look at it long enough to be certain) has rear-ended a BMW 3-series at speed, and the front of the Verso's nose is literally about an inch away from the central pillar that delineates the gap between the front and the rear doors. There's just nothing left of the rear end of the Beamer at all - other than the debris strewn all over the carriageway.

I couldn't see any damage on the rear end of the people carrier, so I don't know to what extent the truck was involved; perhaps it was trying to avoid the accident and ended up straddling the two inner lanes. The two cars were lined up front to back almost perfectly as well, so it didn't look like the second car had been shunted into the first one. What scared me was the amount of damage to the BMW - if there was anyone in the rear seats at the time of the accident, they would have been a goner. For that amount of damage to be done, the Verso must have gone into the back of the Beamer with about a 50mph speed difference. Nasty stuff, and if I'd been a minute or two earlier on the M3 than I had been (i.e. when I would have liked to have been), I might have been caught up right in the middle of it. Funny how fate works sometimes.

It looks like there was a fatality in the crash, so this goes down as another close call... And I was mainlining PGR 2 in the time leading up to that little incident too. Perhaps if more people played racing games, they'd have a much better judgment of speed and distance, not follow cars on motorways quite so closely, and things like this wouldn't happen. Virtually all RTA's on motorways can be put down to people not leaving enough of a gap infront of them. Speed isn't necessarily the problem - it's people not leaving themselves enough time to react if someone needs to make a significant change in speed.

When I was making this trip five times a week, I would see incidents like this *almost* happen practically daily; all because people want to cut a minute or two off their journey time. And they still don't learn. It's a shame people need to let statistics catch up with them and have accidents before they realise that bombing up and down Her Majesty's motorways like a maniac, sure in their belief that they've got faster reactions than a fly and better brakes than a Formula One car, isn't really a good idea...

[Edit: Trust the BBC to update their news page and completely contradict what you've written. It would appear that the lorry wasn't such an innocent party in the crash after all, and maybe it did shunt the car after all - it would certainly go a long way towards explaining the extent of the damage if the other car had a lorry's momentum behind it. Though it's incredible that the Verso (or whatever it was) hardly seemed to have much damage to it at all. Just shows the difference in body strength between a people carrier and a normal saloon car. Frightening.]
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