Almost exactly a year ago I was involved in a minor road collision.
I’m writing this post to:
- Urge people driving in the snow and ice this winter to take care.
- Encourage a revival of the principles of the Good Samaritan.
- Raise some ideas for improvements in policing.
While it was only it a relatively very slow speed crash, and I was in a car, not on my bike or walking, it still hurt (I think my body really tensed up and I began to feel all sorts of aches a few hours after the incident), and generally shook me up. That’s my main point: take care, as the consequences of even very minor crashes are well worth avoiding.
At about 0830 on Monday the 29th of November 2010 I was on Rampton Road / High Street Cottenham approaching the roundabout at the junction with Histon Road. I was stopped in a queue approaching the roundabout and the car behind crashed into me. I saw the car in the mirror as it approached, but it appeared to be normal and I wasn’t looking in the mirror when it hit so it came as a surprise.
The driver of the car which crashed into me was Marcus Stamp of Tylers Estate Agents’ Histon Office. While perfectly polite, what he said to me after the crash was astonishing: he said it was his second crash of the morning, and told me he had skidded for “miles” before hitting me (I believe he was trying to suggest he had been trying very hard to stop), he also gave an impression that he didn’t really have any respect for others on the road or the vehicle he was driving, he was quick to say it was a company car and openly said he therefore didn’t care too much about it – it was a heavy and powerful Audi.
Following the crash we both got out of our cars briefly; and I decided the safest thing to do was to pull off the road. We couldn’t pull onto the green as there’s quite a bank on that side of the road, so I suggested we move the cars off the road on the other side, where there are houses and driveways. Staying on the road, so close to the roundabout would have caused a serious hazard as cars were already pushing to overtake us.
As we pulled up on the other side of the road someone was leaving one of the houses to take their children to school; Mr Stamp explained what had happened, moved his car out of the way, to let them out, parked up again and we began to look at the damage and exchange details. We were in-front of 356 High Street, Cottenham.
Shortly after this an irate man stormed out of the house we were infront of in what, in retrospect, was a slightly comedic, “Get off my land” mode. Mr Stamp said he had to get to work, confirmed I had everything I needed from him, and drove off. I hadn’t decided yet if I was going to drive away with the car as it was as the bumper had been pushed into the rear wheels. I explained the situation to the ranty irate resident, who took the view that we ought to have kept the cars on the road, even if they were in a dangerous position rather than pulling them infront of his house. He said that he wanted compensation and demanded my name and address, which I willingly gave him, saying that I would stand by my actions as being perfectly reasonable and the only safe option open to me. He claimed that his lawn would have been damaged.
I phoned some people for advice about the state of the car; which turned out to be that as the bumper was plastic it being in contact with the tyres was unlikely to shred/damage the tyres. While I was on the phone the man who had returned inside came out again and was again ranting. I of course didn’t continue my conversation on the phone, I gave him my full attention so I have a third party to who can vouch for how unreasonable he was being. Eventually he went back inside and asked me to knock on his door and speak to him again before I left, which I duly did, once I’d done my best to pull the bumper off the tyres and make the car safe to drive. He made no apology for his behaviour, and restated his intention to make a claim of some sort (insurance / small claims I don’t know) for compensation for having his property driven onto.
I returned once the snow had melted and saw that the area of grass which may have been driven on under the snow was in fact a muddy corner which the bins for the property are pulled up on.
What I think the resident ought to have done of course; is what I’m suspect 9/10 or more of people would do; ask if everyone’s all right, and offer help, use of a phone, a cup of tea, tape to sort of the bumper or whatever. I suspect I was just unlucky to come across two rather anti-social individuals in rapid succession that morning.
The crash also resulted in unnecessary hassle and even though I wasn’t at fault, slightly higher insurance premiums, as well as something else to remember to declare whenever I seek insurance in the future.
I don’t know what speed was involved in the crash, but the rear doors of the car didn’t open afterwards, and the car was thrown forward a bit, so there was a fair amount of energy involved.
I considered calling the police on the morning as I was being ranted at quite unreasonably. While I never felt unsafe, it was certainly intimidating behaviour which I suspect would have amounted to a public order offence.
I also considered that someone probably ought not be able to drive through Cambridgeshire crashing twice in one morning without the police taking an interest. Does crashing twice count as reckless? I don’t know I suppose it could just be unlucky, but perhaps worthy of some investigation.
Given the weather conditions I have no doubt that despite it being early on a weekday morning the police would have plenty of more important things to be dealing with. I also don’t have any confidence that the police would behave rationally or reasonably and if I had reported either or both aspects of what had happened I’d have probably ended up investigated for criminal damage to a driveway.
I’m wondering if an insurance company ought be required to report a series of crashes to the police; not only in relation to identifying potentially careless driving; but also to improve accident data used for policy making which currently only covers accidents reported to the police. I think for data collection, that would be a good idea, at least to get a better impression of what fraction of incidents are reported and including in statistics. As for if insurance companies ought ever be required to contact the police about the nature of a driver’s claims – I’m not so sure.
I’m also left wondering it is right that people can go straight from passing their test to driving a very powerful car which they might not be capable of driving safely. On balance though I’m not a fan of excessive curtailment of liberties and increased regulation as generally people are sensible. It would certainly be interesting to review the data on road traffic incidents to see if there are any more precise groups of people disproportionately responsible for collisions in the local area than simply younger men. It would be interesting to see if there are any Cambridge or Cambridgeshire specific high risk groups which can be tackled.
I have not heard from the resident I encountered. Despite taking my address he did not contact me directly, either with any claim, or even an apology, which he might have thought on reflection, was due.
I didn’t write about this at the time as I thought it inappropriate to do so before the insurance matters were concluded.