Mist through the trees rising up from Detling. Had I been a poet and in possession of the time I’d more than likely filled an anthology this morning. Alas my poetry sucks and I had to drive my van through the fog.
The last few days have generally started off misty, foggy: damp road conditions and poor visibility. You’d think, given the occasions fog conditions have prevailed, that drivers would learn and adapt.
Not a chance!
Passing the Kent County Showground on the A249 this morning, I slowed to 50mph as the road ahead dictated. And all the while vehicles sped past me and faded quickly into the grey. Most had lights on… But what difference does that make? It’s not about others being able to see you – though that, of course, is important – it’s about what you can see and the time you give yourself to react to changing road situations. On a clear day, on a dry road, the Highway Code says vehicles should be two seconds apart. In fog, where your vision is severely reduced, the tarmac beneath your tyres tends to be damp. S0 you need to slow down!
On that same road, the A249, just over the Sheppy Crossing, I noticed the aftermath of a collision on the southbound carriageway. The accident closed the road. There ensued a period of utter chaos and steam-under-collar for those drivers trying to cross. The mess involved vehicles heading into Sheppy as everyone hit the round-about to nowhere. Rush-hour ground to a halt… No-one was getting to work on time.
There seems to be an instinct of sympathy for those caught up in accidents (or incidents of sloppy, irresponsible driving): no-one wants to see people killed or seriously injured. But at the heart of all RTAs (Road Traffic Accidents) lies a culprit. A smash is someone’s fault and they have caused the incident through poor judgement or concentration. We’re humans, we make mistakes… But when you’re driving you are in command of a potential weapon. Take a gun for example. Used sensibly and with responsibility guns are harmless, even (dare I say it) fun! But if someone walks along the street with one in their hand, waving it around erratically and irresponsibly – firing it in all directions – it’ll become a lethal object… and quite rightly you’d want the police to sort them out.
It’s not just in fog; although, that road condition seems to bring out the nutters just as much as snow. I’ve been over-taken on round-abouts… or suffered many attempts… raced and cut up: all because other drivers see a van appear in front of them. Or, more commonly, they see themselves being held up for a few seconds of their important lives. Coming away from the prisons on Sheppy, on the same day as the fog-accident on the A249, I was over-taken in a 15mph zone. Last week, I merged onto a round-about from an M-way and fell in behind a car-and-caravan. Before moving I noticed a van approaching: it was someway off. I had enough time. As I turned into the road I was aiming for my van sat in third gear (doing about 30mph). The van I’d seen belted past me and pulled into the stopping gap I’d left between myself and the lumbering caravan. And the driver of the second van berated me! At least I think that’s what he was doing… I couldn’t (much less wanted to) hear what he was gobbing on about from his over-used accelerator peddle. The noise of the traffic and my engine drowned him out… thankfully!
It’s people like that who tend to cause accidents… and not necessarily be involved themselves. All it needs is for everyone to show courtesy and consideration, and show responsibility, and we’ll all get to where we’re going in one piece and on time.