to think that if you nearly cause an accident.....

(34 Posts)
TandB Thu 08-Nov-12 14:17:07

...your instinctive reaction should be to apologise/indicate remorse, not to shout and scream and wave your arms at the person you nearly drove into?

I was driving to work this morning and I had been following a slightly irritating driver through the town centre. She didn't do anything massively dangerous - she was just one of those very wafty, hesitant, drivers who drift about the road and make you a bit nervous because they don't seem to know what they are doing. I passed her on a stretch of dual carriageway on the outside of town and didn't expect to see her again.

I got onto the single carriageway and was trundling along in a row of 3 cars, all doing about 50 - its a 60mph road but people tend to go a little bit slower because it is a bit bendy in places, with side entrances and there tend to be a lot of cyclists on it. There is a long straight on this road and towards the far end of it there was a car broken down. The three of us therefore obviously stopped to wait for there to be nothing coming the other way before going past. I glanced in the mirror and saw this woman enter the straight, several hundred yards back. I glanced up again and saw her still going quite fast about halfway along but not close enough for me to be alarmed. The next thing I knew there was an almighty screech of tyres and I looked up and saw her close behind, still going fast, swerving all over the place, dragging at the wheel, obviously trying to get the car back under control. I had assumed she was about to hit me and braced myself against the steering wheel, but she managed to stop sideways across the road, a few inches off me.

There was a huge stink of rubber and she had obviously ripped the tread of her tyres trying to stop. I turned round and lifted a hand in a 'what the actual fuck was that?' type gesture and she went ballistic, screaming and shouting and waving her arms and tooting her horn.

After I drove off she was still sat there trying to get herslf back onto the road properly. It looked as though she might have done some damage to her tyres as she seemed to be having problems moving.

So am I being unreasonable to think that if you entirely fail to notice stopped traffic on a clear, straight road in full daylight, when you have several hundred yards to realise that said cars aren't moving, and nearly run into them at high speed, your response really should be an indication of apology and acceptance of fault, not to try to blame the other driver?!

It seems like noone ever just says 'oops, my fault, sorry' anymore. If I make an error while driving and it affects someone else, I immediately make an apologetic gesture. Maybe I should start shouting and waving my arms.....

digerd Thu 08-Nov-12 17:09:22

Trying to think of a gesture that means " Are you OK?" but can't think of one. She must have been in a terrible state of shock, more than you, I expect, and would not have reacted rationally anyway.
Know I made the right decision, when I gave up on trying to drive years ago.
Thank goodness she didn't cause damage to cars behind her

bachsingingmum Thu 08-Nov-12 18:40:21

Perhaps she was texting?

Chopstheduck Thu 08-Nov-12 19:02:59

I did wonder if maybe a phone was involved

jjuice Thu 08-Nov-12 19:06:14

Shock definitely makes you react out of character. A car drove into the back of mine when I was stopped at traffic lights on red I got out and screamed at her what did she think she was doing and I had my kids in the car blah blah. Then I looked at her face and she looked like she was going to cry. I was mortified by my reaction. Luckily nobody was hurt and the damage was sorted in a calm friendly manner.
Looks like she was distracted maybe by a child in the back or on the phone or just new driver. I think you should have checked she was ok.

TandB Thu 08-Nov-12 19:12:36

I am slightly horrified at the idea of getting out of the car.

If that sounds like an option then I don't think I described it properly!

I looked in the mirror and saw her about halfway along the straight, probably doing 40-45ish, so fairly fast but not fast enough for me to think she wasn't going to stop - she still would have had plenty of time for a normal braking process. The only reason I clocked her at all was that I recognised the car as probably being the one I had passed earlier and I had a passing thought that it had taken her quite a while to catch up.

The next time I looked up was when I heard the squeal of tyres, at which point she was in the middle of the out-of-control emergency stop, so all I could do was hold the steering wheel hard. There is no way on this earth i could have undone my seatbelt, opened the door and got out of the car, even if that wouldn't have meant jumping into oncoming traffic! I can't imagine anything less likely to end well.

The hazard lights is an interesting one. If you take the view that you should put them on when you are stopped to go round a stopped or parked car, would that mean you should also put them on if you are waiting behind someone turning right? Or just in heavy traffic? I don't see people doing that habitually. This was a normal road and normal stopped traffic - on the way home tonight I stopped three times on the same road, twice behind people turning right and once because of a van on the side of the road. No-one put their hazards on and no-one had problems seeing or stopping. I would use hazards if I was in a situation where everyone was stopping very quickly to warn other drivers of a hazard actually happening right then - I wouldn't put them on simply because I'm stopped with space behind me, otherwise I'd have them on constantly on the roads round here.

I don't think, on balance, that I should have had hazards on, although I wouldn't say you would be wrong to do so - except that I was indicating to go round the stopped car and that would have been masked by hazard lights. Brake lights are supposed to indicate slow or stopped traffic and those would have been on as I had my foot on the brake. I think if someone can fail to notice a row of stopped, indicating cars, with brakelights, after a long run-up, hazard lights probably wouldn't add much.

digerd - no cars behind her at the time, fortunately.

TweedSlacks Thu 08-Nov-12 19:18:31

I always leave a big gap between me and the car in front if stopping unexpectedly.
Leave car in gear , foot on clutch and footbrake. In your actual scenario you then might have been able to pull into the gap without her hitting you, and maybe shove you into the car in front of you.
Glad you wernt hit as whiplash can be painfull

TandB Thu 08-Nov-12 19:23:00

I am fairly sure she wasn't on the phone, although I could be wrong, and she was on her own in the car. If I'd thought she was on the phone I would have reported her.

I'm afraid there is no way on this earth I would have got out onto the middle of the road to check if the screaming, shouting, arm waving woman was ok. She didn't hit anything and while I'm quite sure she got a massive fright, there wasn't really anything to be said. If she had disolved into tears, or slumped over the wheel, or hadn't been trying to get moving I might have pulled in and waited to see if she got going, but given that her response to me raising my hand, palm-up was to scream and arm wave and toot, approaching her wouldn't have been my number one choice, even if it had been safe to do so.

It was the tooting I found surprising. I can just about understand the surge of adrenaline making you shout and gesture in shock or fright but repeatedly bashing the horn is quite agressive and suggests someone who is more angry than shocked.

TandB Thu 08-Nov-12 19:24:52

Tweed, I probably could have done that if I'd thought of it in time, although the risk is that you then get shunted into them - I had a decent gap because I hate people who stop so close you can count their nose-hairs....

Never get out of your car in that sort of situation. You're far more likely to be killed that way if she did hit you. That is the absolutely the most stupid thing you could possibly do!

That sounds very scary kungfu!

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