Sunday, 13 April 2008

Worlds biggest killer

For this next post I am returning to something already visited in my blog, road traffic accidents.

This has been brought on by exposure to another catalogue of incidents and I can only see these increasing in our lifetimes.

I was reading one of the Sunday papers the other week and came across an article relating to a WHO (World Health Organisation) report on road traffic accidents that had identified that RTA's were the biggest killer in the world for the age group under 25. With nearly 400,000 young people killed a year it is far higher that AIDS or any other disease and that figure doesn't include those that survive with disabilities.

Later this week I read that one of Liverpool FC's academy hopefuls was involved in a car accident which sadly two of the other passengers died in and one other is still in intensive care.

Then just this morning I read of an accident near my home village that has killed 4 and seriously injured 2 others.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved in road traffic accidents and hope that the survivors make a full recovery.

When I had my last accident, a Police office corrected me when I used the term RTA, they no longer call them RTA's but now called them RTI (Road Traffic Incident) which I saw as a positive step. This was because most incidents were caused by something, they weren't just accidents. I don't know the details of either of the above mentioned collisions and therefore I am not inferring anything to those particular cases.

But the two I have been involved in from my knowledge were not accidents, somebody took and action that caused the collision. This action might have been tuning the radio or answering your mobile, or talking to someone in the rear of the car, it doesn't have to be overtaking or some other more dangerous action.

We all seem to think that it will never happen to us, until it does . . .

Cars are inherently dangerous, large over 1 ton objects that can travel at speeds of over 100mph. Would you answer your mobile while pointing a gun at a stranger or look over your shoulder while taking aim? That's effectively what you are doing. I still see some many people talking on their mobiles while driving, but don't worry they're good drivers and nothing will ever happen to them.

Yesterday a watched a women coming through the lights on Eccleshall Road, Sheffield in her large Mercedes 4x4 nonchalantly chatting away on her mobile while negotiating a corner onto a dual carriageway with traffic lights, but don't worry she's a good driver, we're all safe. I see drivers driving down slip roads onto the motorway while chatting on their mobiles, but don't worry it won't happen to them. For want of a better description, all of these people are idiots risking my life and the life of all those around them for the sake of a phone call, yes you madame in your Mercedes 4x4 you're an idiot, you may look smart and intelligent and hold down a cushy job, but to me that's all you are, an idiot.

One of my friends stated something the other day that rang so true that I thought I would share it with you, he said "in years to come they'll look back on this era with horror, I mean what madman would drive around in a metal box, passing other people in metal boxes at combined speeds of up to 120mph with only centimetres between them, protected only by an air bag and seatbelt?"

Pay attention while you drive, it could only be a short time you are in the car, but it could affect the rest of your life and several others that you have never met.

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Thursday, 13 March 2008

Monday 5th November 2007 - A Weekend in Luxury.

Just spent a very nice weekend relaxing at a friends wedding, a thoroughly pleasant experience all in, our friends company, the location and the event itself.

To get to the lovely venue of Babington House though, we had to drive across the majority of England, which while it was undoubtedly worth it, it meant we had to experience some pretty awful driving in both terms of traffic and also time spent on the road.

Unfortunately we haven't had much luck on the roads over the last 12 months, having been involved in two serious car accidents, neither of which I hasten to add, were our fault

I now find it hard to be anything other than concerned for the future of driving cars. Let me start from the beginning and move from there. I was a late starter, big into my cycling when a kid, I would cycle everywhere and I mean just about everywhere, sometimes gone for days on end and even once cycling Lands End to John O'Groats when younger and fitter than I am now. So when I turned 17 and started to learn to drive it didn't hold the same excitement as I think it may hold for other new drivers, I already had my independence.

I eventually passed my test after I turned 30, when my partner started encouraging me to drive her car. We were free to alternate in our drive of 2.3 miles to the Sainsbury's where we used to live in London.

Since we left London our driving requirement and miles have rocketed, no longer can we travel anywhere by train, well we can but it can take an eternity, cost a fortune and since we have a little one on board now it can be very hard to accommodate all her bags, babies don't half take a lot of luggage!

With my partners new job came a company car and with a newer car and the extra miles we were covering I began, shock horror, to enjoy driving. That all came to a very sudden end when last year, just approaching Christmas we were involved in a very serious traffic accident after a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction came over the brow of a hill on the wrong side of the road and hit us head on.

The accident, without going into all the details,left my partner who was driving at the time, with life threatening injuries and me with some bad cuts, bruises, broken fingers and most significantly from my perspective some mental scars.

Then just a few weeks ago, after we were both well onto our way back to normal life, well as normal as we could get after the injuries we received, I was involved in another accident, where the driver in front of me was hit by an oncoming overtaking car.

This has compounded the already developed lack of trust we both gained for other drivers and that unwritten agreement that they won't cross the line in the middle of the road unexpectedly.

This leads me to the purpose of this post; even in the relatively short time I have been driving, cars have jumped forward light years in comfort, performance, safety and now even size. It leaves so many drivers with an air of invincibility, a feeling of "it will never happen to me". I am obviously a lot more aware on the roads these days as a consequence of the accidents and I see too much bad driving going on. People seem to have almost forgotten about the use of the indicator. Acceleration in modern vehicles encourages people to over take where previously they would have never considered doing so. Mobile phones are distracting people whilst they drive, it may be against the law in this country but I see people using the mobiles whilst driving on a daily basis.

The worry is that is that as a responsible driver, you are no longer in control of your destiny on the roads. Its a concept that the irresponsible driver probably never considers. So while I don't want to ban cars or peoples enjoyment of driving cars, even if I am in favour of greener alternatives, I just hope that some people can start thinking beyond their personal desires whilst driving and consider how they may affect someone else life by their reckless actions.

Next post I promise a positive post!

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