Drive safe!

This week has been a pretty bad one on the roads of mid-Wales. In one incident on Friday, four people were killed in a two-car collision. Hours earlier, an elderly lady was killed in another incident in the same county. Today, there has been another collision serious enough to close the road just a few miles from our house – no news on casualties yet. Looks like it was around the area where five family members were killed in a collision not all that long ago.

Driving classic cars can be challenging, but is huge fun!

Welsh roads can be good fun, but danger can be lurking around every corner…

It’s very easy to get blasé about the dangers of cars. We’re told that cars are safer than ever, and modern cars really are very good at masking the speed with which you are travelling. 60mph just does not feel scarily brisk. Try doing 60mph in an Austin Seven, or on a pushbike downhill, and you realise that 60mph really is pretty bloody fast.

Also, those of us who like to drive quickly can get frustrated by slow moving traffic, which means it’s far too easy to take risks. You end up judging an overtake not on the evidence of your own eyes, but with a dose of risk involved. “The road will probably stay clear, so I’ll be ok.”

I know this, because I’ve done it. Once, I almost paid the price for it too. We’re only on about a couple of years ago, when an overtake I’d attempted in my Rover 416SLi went horribly wrong. My expectation of the vehicle was entirely unrelated to the reality, and it just didn’t accelerate as quickly as I’d expected, which left me exposed to danger for far too long. The flashing lights of the van rapidly approaching me suggested he agreed with this diagnosis. I can’t blame him for being pissed off. I would have been. I gave myself a dressing down and it’s telling that the experience still looms large in my mind.

Yet I’ve seen people tackle completely ludicrous overtakes, in entirely the wrong situation. They get away with it due to nothing more than luck. The problem with luck is that it can run out, and you’ll be taking someone else’s lives with you when it does.

Not that all the accidents on our roads are necessarily caused by overtaking. That’s an assumption due to the stupid behaviour I have witnessed. It only takes a moment’s inattention from even a very competent driver and all hell can break loose. A message arrives on the phone (distracting even if you don’t read it, which obviously you shouldn’t), or the CD needs changing, or noisy children interrupt your concentration. I’m sure we’ve all been there, and had to make a hasty correction as the wheels clip a rumble strip or thump the cats eyes.

It’s especially easy to get distracted when you’re in mid-Wales too. The scenery here is beautiful. Here’s the thing though, you can always pull over for a better view of it.

It really does worry me, because roads can very quickly get labelled as ‘unsafe.’ The A44 attracts this comment all of the time. The road is NOT unsafe. Thousands of people manage to drive along it every day without having an accident. Inattention is unsafe. It’s a failure to read the road and conditions that will cause the collision, not the road itself.

At the rate we’re going, the authorities may feel compelled to take action. Already, one section has been made 30mph, though folk seem pretty keen on ignoring that. I got overtaken through that section the other day, even though I may have been doing slightly more than 30 myself (not very much more I’ll concede). But that’s what can happen, which immediately makes the road less enjoyable to drive.

It’s entirely possible to drive this road at no more than the legal speed limit and have a very jolly time, but it does require a lot of concentration and consideration for other road users. If there’s a stream of traffic,  then you have to accept that you’ll be travelling more slowly. That’s ok. There’s always another day. Unless you take ridiculous risks, in which case that might not be true.

3 thoughts on “Drive safe!

  1. Good post; always worth a reminder of the dangers of motoring. I find that the most dangerous habit that I encounter is the tendency for those being overtaken to accelerate. It often seems to aflict people who look like they might be mild mannered and thoroughly respectable people yet it is bordering on murderous. It seems much more common in Britain. I generally find drivers on the continent are more relaxed about being overtaken.

    • I agree with the comment but what I have also noticed is this occurs on any road, motorway to byway and the instant that you pass they slow straight back to the speed they were doing before you caught them up. Very strange,but, having spent 30 years commuting along the A46 and A15 in Lincolnshire no driving amazes me, best place in the world for courteous drivers Brunei, they would wait all day to allow cars by and smile while they waited!

  2. This is a really good piece, we drive this road almost daily, from Llangurig to Aber it’s not the road it’s unfortunately it momentary poor judgement of drivers and riders that I’m sure being honest with ourselves we have all been guilty of at some point and ‘pure’ luck has kept us safe.

    Whats interesting is I used to live near the a358 between Taunton and Minehead, similar reputation and regular accidents and unfortunately fatalities, they reduced the speed limits along most of this 20 miles stretch to 30s 40s and 50s in a bid to reduce speeds and therefore in their thought process accidents, interestingly the rate of accidents went up not down, they have now brought these limits back up. The reason behind this they believe is there were less overtaking opportunities and more drivers therefore took chances to ‘get past’. What they have done now is made it clearer when and where there are sensible overtaking opportunities should drivers want to reasonably overtake.

    It’s an interesting scenario and one I think should be taken into account more.

    I’m not saying increased speed does not produce more risk, however mearly reducing speed limits does not make it a safer road.
    Inmy opinion it needs a different approach.

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